Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Cob Web Felted Scarves.....
As usual I didn't get as many crafty things done this winter as hoped, but I did manage to do some 'cob-web' felted scarves. At least my version of cob-web felt. These were fun and much easier to do than the nuno felted wool scarves with the silk base.
Awhile back I sent off a bunch of white merino/dorset raw fleece to be processed into batts. Well, when they came back the batts were huge and there were two bags full. I haven't even touched the second bag, but the first one, I cut up into smaller felt blocks to sell and/or made longer pieces for scarves.
The process is simple---cut or gently pull apart the approximate length and width of the scarf that you want from the batting. Then separate the layers, until you are left with a very fine layer of batting. Start pulling length and width ways and work your way down to the end. When you are done, you will have a thin piece of batting, with some holes in it....looking very much like a tired old cob-web. The real beauty of this process is that you can't 'do it wrong' as each piece is unique. Some have scalloped looking edges, all edges tend to be uneven etc. etc. If you are a perfectionist this might not be the project for you....
Once that is done, you use the same process as nuno-felting (again my version...) and lay out a long piece of rubber shelf liner that is longer and wider than the scarf. Place a short piece of pool noodle at the end and start rolling the whole thing up around the 'noodle'. When you are done pop a couple of rubber bands around the ends and head for the nearest sink or bathtub. Because you want to shock the wool and cause felting, it doesn't much matter the soap you use--just something that lathers well. I usually use whatever dish soap I have on hand and hot hot water from the tap. Submerge the roll and start kneading it, and rolling it--gently at first so the fibers catch. Again you are wanting to shock the fiber and cause it to felt. It really is kinda fun, although your arms can get tired! Depending on the piece, I usually roll and thump and knead it for about 15 minutes. Then I take it out, remove it from the shelf backing, turn it over, lay it back on the shelf backing, re-roll it and return to another 10-15 minutes of hot soapy water and thrashing.
When that is done, I rinse in cold water, and remove from the roll (you have to be careful as it will often stick a little to the backing, and the cobweb at this point is fragile).
Now is one of the fun parts! Lay a thick towel on a solid surface, wad up your scarf (after wringing out excess water), and start throwing it down on the towel as hard as you can. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Turn it often and do all sides. I think this is what is termed 'fulling'. About five to ten minutes of this and you are done.
Then comes the really fun part! Dyeing! I use Koolaid, because for now I don't really have the time or inclination to research and use more powerful dyes. Someday I would like to use more natural dye materials, picked from the sunny meadows and cool forests of my own tiny little farm. (lalalala)
For now though Koolaid is fun, and it smells pretty good too. There are lots of good internet articles that detail how to do this, if you Google it. Basically you take a large bowl (microwave) or pot (stove), add the Koolaid color of your choice (the less water the darker the dye), enough water that the scarf will be covered and your wet (or pre-soaked) scarf. For different effects you can sprinkle some Koolaid powder straight onto the scarf, or knot string around pieces of the scarf for a more tie-dye look. Heat until very hot, let set and cool, heat again and so forth until the water is clear and your scarf has absorbed all the dye. I then fill the sink with cold water and vinegar and put the scarf in there to set the dye. Koolaid is very acidic so you probably really don't need to do this part, but what the heck, and it rinses it of any remaining soap scum.
Let dry and you have a nice felted and very unique scarf!
Note: It's very important that resident cats are basking in front of a wood stove or other heat source before attempting this project. Trust me.