Not Every Make is a Masterpiece

After making loads of Alpaca samples, I was itching to make something to wear.  I had some cotton muslin that I found from my printmaking days. It was about a meter wide. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long enough to make anything, so I cut the fabric in half.  I reckoned that if I stitched it together, it should be long enough for a scarf.  I didn’t have a sample that I could use to measure out shrinkage, so I just went for it.  I first needed to make a resist.  My table is just over 4 feet long, but it has extensions that make it just over 7 feet long.  I made the resist the with of the table (32 inches) x 72 inches long.  The fabric was laid out along the resist so that the join was on the main side.  I don’t know what the exact measurements of the fabric were, maybe about 100 inches.  Certainly it was longer than the length of my table.  This would be my first time making a flat piece on a resist.  It would be a good exercise, if anything.

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Here is my layout.  I’ve got a sand, sea and sky theme going on here.  I did a cloud layout as I was using mostly 23 micron merino.  I have some 19 mic merino in cerulean that I used in the sea and mostly in the sky.  I am very limited with 19 mic merino.  Also, I have a cotton muslin, rather than gauze.  I knew I would be able to felt it, but it would take longer because of the weave and heavier weight merino.  I left some of the sides free of wool to see what texture I would get.  After laying out, I wet it and then rolled the piece, flipped it over and unrolled to do the other side.  There is a definite knack to doing that.  It took a couple of tries.  So I did the usual, soap, sanding and rolling.  It took 400 rolls and sanding on both sides.  I was still concerned about the pinch test, so I took a wooden back massager/roller and gave it a good rolling and that helped.  I then gave it a gentle swishing around on the bubble wrap, got extra soap and did some more gentle rubbing on the bubble wrap.  I was getting some very nice texture on the back of the scarf.

IMG_6156Here it is hanging on the line to dry.  It didn’t quite turn out how I imagined it would.  The shrinkage was quite irregular.  It is too wide in most parts, between 8 and 9 inches.  I would say that it shrunk more in width (about half), than it did in length.  It is approximately 92 inches long.  I could cut off the sand colored parts and that would make the length more manageable, but it is still an awkward piece to wear as it doesn’t drape well, even though it is lightweight.

The seam joins right up at the neck.  You can see there is a lot of texture on this piece and it is very soft.  I used 19 and 23 mic merino, silk laps, viscose fibers and sari silk fibers, and alpaca.

I think I might like the back even more than the front.  There is some really lovely texture here.  Some of the sari silk fibers bled into the material.  That happens often with sari silk fibers but I don’t mind it here.

Although I am not happy with this as a wearable, I can use it to make more seascape paintings or for other projects.  I might try cutting it up and sewing it together to make a shawl.  I have options.  If the shawl doesn’t pan out, I would definitely use it for seascape paintings.  I still think this material would make a great poncho, so when I am able to go shopping at the fabric store I shall purchase some more of this muslin and have another go.

Some people have asked me why I show things that don’t work out.  Well, like life, working with felt is an adventure.  It is about the journey and not just the destination.  Sometimes you need to get lost to know where you have to go.  Like moving to a new neighbourhood, one is bound to get lost a few times.  Felting is still new to me.  We learn from mistakes.  My only mistake here was not to do a sample.  I am not embarrassed about that, nor am I angry with myself.  It is only wool and cheap material and my time.  Nothing is wasted and nobody gets it right every time.  On to the next thing!

4 thoughts on “Not Every Make is a Masterpiece

  1. By showing stuff that doesn’t work you are encouraging new felters because if all they see is perfect stuff then they could be intimidated and give up. You’re also showing other felters ideas for what can be done with pieces of felt that didn’t go to your plan.
    Great post!
    There is some lovely texture and colour and you’re bound to find something good to do with it.

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    1. Thank you ladies! I have a small canvas that I shall be using for another felt painting. There are some sections I made that I really love. You can’t really see it, but I have some nice sparkly bits for the sea. We don’t give up here, we just keep going! 🙂

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  2. Some great textures there Arlene! I find I learn more from pieces that don’t work out than I do from successful pieces – so it’s all useful stuff.

    Maybe I misunderstood, but I’m not clear where or why you used a resist?

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