After making my cobweb scarves, it was time to try something new. Nuno felting. I know, what the heck is that you say? I say, Google and YouTube are your two best friends. It is basically felting with fabric, usually silk. I have seen it used in hats to good effect and I needed to try it. I needed to, really. So, I trawled through the charity shops to find some silk scarves or something I could felt on that looked pretty and that was inexpensive. Easy peasy one would think, but no. There were loads of pretty scarves, but not many silk ones that still had the labels on. The label is very important! There are different types of silk, and fabric that feels like silk, but isn’t.
You just can’t felt on anything. Viscose is ok, but not polyester. There are so many silky scarves I came across that I didn’t buy as they had no care label on. I get it, they can be unseemly. But really good scarves have them stitched on nicely so they don’t flap around. I didn’t want to spend money on something that wouldn’t felt. I did find a nice, plain, thin, lavender silk scarf for £1! Woohoo, bargain! It would make a nice practice piece. If I messed it up, well, it would be a learning experience that only cost me time and not much money.
This is the scarf with the Merino I was using. These are the same colors in this hat.
I love this hat! I wore it out recently and got loads of compliments and people wanted to try it on. I guess the fedora style is popular and one I shall make again. This hat is purple and NOT blue. My cameras hate the color purple!
The premise of nuno felting is that the wool fiber will migrate through the fabric and create texture as the wool shrinks. The fabric itself does not felt or actually shrink. I laid out some Merino wool in the center of the scarf as I wanted the edges to be frilly. I had a random plan of laying out. I put only one layer of Merino on the silk. I then added some sari silk fiber in pink and some wispy bits of Merino to hold the silk down. I then covered the scarf with netting and wet it down with cool, soapy water. One needs to use cool water so the wool doesn’t felt before it gets a chance to migrate through the fiber. I checked to see that the fibers didn’t spread out too much and pulled bits in to make two straight lines and folded over any wool that went over the edge on the ends. I didn’t think to take pictures as this was a test piece. Sorry. I then got some painters plastic to cover and got the sander out. The sander is meant to mimic the rolling process without all the hard work of rolling. One can also do this next step in a cool tumble dryer. I am happy to use the sander. It took 4 passes with the sander (two on each side), before I was happy with how the wool was binding together and I could actually see that it was migrating through the silk. The next bit was a bit scary, but I got my painters tray (£1 from the pound store) and added warm soapy water to it. I then dunked the scarf in there, added more soap and gently rolled it around in my hands for a minute before whacking it down on the table. Yes, I whacked! I think the whacking is the really fun bit. You just throw it down, gently at first, and increase your whack. It is meant to shock the wool to make it shrink and felt together. I did that for 30 times and then checked my progress. It was starting to shrink and the fabric was getting crinkled. Such excitement, I can’t tell you. Really, no kidding, as this is what was supposed to happen and what I wanted. I then gently stretched out the scarf in both directions and did that procedure about 3-4 more times. Stretching helps the wool felt better, supposedly. I also used the ridges in the painters tray to help with he fulling by rubbing the wool gently along them. (What did you think I got a painters tray for! 🙂 ) I stopped when I was happy.
Here it is drying on the rack.
Look at all those lovely crinkles, and the ruffles!
Here is a close up. The crinkles in the silk are created as the wool shrinks and where it hasn’t adhered to the fabric. I am so happy with how it turned out. It is not a long scarf, but long enough to put around your neck and have a tuck if wanted. It is also reversible. I am waiting for the weather to brighten up to show you how pretty it is on.
So another adventure in felt turned out to be a success! Nothing adventured, nothing gained!