Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nuno Scarves on the Felting Machine

My book, The Art of Machine Needle Felting is still for sale on my website for 25% off the original price until the end of July. 

I know I have not been posting as much as I would like but I have not dropped off the face of the earth.  What did happen was, I was asked by the Babylock company, the people who make the 12 needle Embellisher machine, to create some new work and an advertising flyer for them to publish.  I made that deadline on the weekend and now have my life back.  I do have lots of new things to share with you all about cool new projects with your needle felting machines.  Following is one of the scarves I will make into a class I will be teaching locally.  Here is a picture of it:

I have taken several traditional felting classes whenever I could in my area so I could learn how it is done and then translate that into machine needle felting.  Think of hand quilting and then think of machine quilting - two paths to the same result but very different looks and timelines. 

I created some scarves with my Babylock Embellisher and am very pleased with the results.  I wanted to create scarves that were thin and drapey, rather than thick and felty. I also wanted them to be wearable and sturdy for regular people to use and not be afraid the wool was going to pull off or matt.  I also wanted more control over the outcome or look of the piece.  With hand felting, it can distort and shrink in unpredictable ways and I just knew we didn't have to live with that.  I hoped the Embellisher would be able to do that and sure enough, all the scarves turned out better than I had hoped on this machine.  Here are some pictures of them, modelled by some good friends.

  I used wool roving, sheep curls, yarn, ribbon and a silk base for each one.  I will be experimenting with other fabric bases but this is what I have done so far.  I really enjoyed creating them and will talk more about them when I find out from the company what I can and cannot publish on this blog.
However, I will be teaching the Nuno with Needlefelting class in the fall so I will talk about it now.
Here it is:

I started with a dusky blue crepey silk blend and cut it a little larger than I wanted the scarf to be.  I took several needles out of the Embellisher head so they would not distress the fabric surface too much and ruin it. 

I chose 4 colors of roving I wanted in the scarf and blended them together into one rope with my Fancy Kitty Carding Machine (whhhooooo-yeahhh!!!)  I wanted the colors to be blending without being lost entirely to one another

I pulled off thin wisps of wool with all the colors visible, laid them down and felted them in place.  There was some distressing of the silk but not as much as I thought.  The scarf didn't shrink as much as a regular hand-felted scarf shrinks either, which is great because you can judge how large your project needs to be in the end and it won't shrink too much and disappoint you.

I staggered the position of the wisps so there would be silk fabric showing in between that would keep the surface interesting, sheer and drapey.   You can see what I mean here. 

I then had to solve the problems of raw edges.  With a hand-rolled silk scarf I would treat the edges differently, or not treat them at all, but I needed to do something to keep the edges from ravelling too much.  The Embellisher quickly and easily felted them without chewing them up, tearing them or shrinking them.  I laid down wisps of wool along the edges in straight lines and the Embellisher felted the raw edges away.
Next was the "fringe."  Most scarves have fringes and I wanted one for this too.  I opened my big bin of hand dyed curls and picked out some colors that would match the roving on the scarf.  I didn't have enough for an enire fringe so I just put fringe in the corners.  It was easy as pie.  I just laid them on the bed of the machine and felted away.  I added a layer of roving on the ends of the curls on both sides of the scarf and felted some more to hold them in place and here is the result:

Next I will make more colorways of this scarf and then develop the other styles in other colorways as well.  By the way, polyester works just as well as silk with this method and there are a lot of beautiful silky prints around that could be used creatively in scarf making.  I probably won't get any sleep thinking about the possibilities..........

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