Felt and kantha

I love the results of my kantha stitching experiments, but it’s quite hard on the fingers stitching through four layers of fabric. So I thought I’d see if I could produce similar results on something softer, like felt.

I stitched a couple of circles made out of prefelt, and then felted these onto a piece of flat felt along with two plain unstitched circles of prefelt. After felting, I stitched the two plain circles. This let me compare the results of stitching before and after felting.

kantha prefeltkantha felt sample

As you can see, the prefelt circles that were stitched before felting flattened out and distorted during the felting process, and the thread started to hang loose in places because the felt shrank. The circles that were stitched after felting were much more distinct.

Circle stitched before felting
Circle stitched before felting
Circle stitched after felting
Circle stitched after felting

So I felted some grey prefelt onto a piece of silk crinkle chiffon to make a sample nuno felt scarf. As I hope you can see, the ruched texture caused by the felt shrinking onto the silk is enhanced by the stitching afterwards. I call it my limpet scarf!

kantha felt scarfkantha felt scarf detail

It’s a lot of stitching, but at least it’s easier on the fingers. 🙂

Shibori scarf giveaway

Woohoo – I’ve racked up 200 posts, so time for a giveaway, just in time for Christmas!

So here is one of my new elegant silk scarves, made of 5mm pongee silk, which is beautifully light – you can hardly feel it when you are wearing it.

shibori sill scarf

The scarf is hand-dyed using indigo, which produces a fabulous range of blues on silk. The pattern is produced using the shibori itajime technique – shibori is a sophisticated kind of tie-dye.

I dip the scarf several times in the indigo vat to build up the colour, leaving it to oxidise between dips. Indigo requires oxygen to turn blue – when I remove the scarf from the vat the colour is actually green, and as it is exposed to the air it turns blue before my eyes! Letting the scarf oxidise between dips also makes the indigo fast and less likely to run when washed.

Because all my scarves are dyed by hand, each one is unique – I couldn’t produce exact copies even if I wanted to! The variation results from slight differences in folding, clamping and binding, and in different temperatures, indigo concentrations and drying times.

I recommend that you wash the scarf separately in warm water with a little bit of shampoo added. Rinse in cool water, roll in a towel to remove excess water, and dry flat. Press with a warm iron.

The scarf measures approx 125cm x 35 cm.

If you’d like to win this scarf, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post before midnight GMT next Wednesday 21 November. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday 22 November.

Spontaneous scarf

This is hardly the weather to be thinking about scarves (hurrah!), but as I’ve suddenly acquired a large stash of odd balls of wool from a friend, I thought it was worth trying out this pattern for a spontaneous scarf by Charlene Anderson.

The scarf is knitted lengthwise, changing the yarn every row and leaving a length of 7-8 inches of wool at each end that later forms the fringe. By using moss stitch (that’s British moss stitch, not American moss stitch*), you achieve an almost woven effect.

It’s so effective but so simple – certainly simple enough for me to be able to watch Scandinavian thrillers with subtitles without any problem while knitting! And because you change yarn every row, it’s great for using up leftover balls.

*Another example of two nations divided by a single language. In British moss stitch you knit one, purl one across the row, and then on the second row you purl the knit stitches and knit the purl stitches. Americans call this seed stitch. American moss stitch is alternating knit and purl across two rows, followed by two rows of alternating purl and knit.

Nearly network

Is there a seasonality about textiles? I just ask because over the summer I’ve done absolutely no felting – just shibori, shibori, shibori. But now that the chills of autumn are in the air I’ve suddenly had a desire to go back to felt.

This may also have had something to do with the arrival of my copy of From Felt to Friendship by Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown. I know Nicola because she writes the excellent Clasheen blog and is kind enough to give me advice through her comments here. One day I will have enough time/money to go to Ireland for one of her workshops, but in the meantime I have the book to inspire me.

So, still thinking about Claudia Phipps’ glass wings, I wanted to make a scarf with holes in it (aka network felt). I’ve made these before, by laying out adjoining circles of wool and felting them together (left).

I’d read what seemed like an easier method, of laying the roving out in a grid, in both Lizzie Houghton’s Creative Felting and in Fabulous Felted Scarves by Chad Alice Hagan and Jorie Johnson. But the holes produced in this way were too regular and, well, grid like!

Then in From Felt to Friendship I came across one of Nicola’s scarves where she cuts slits in the felt to form holes after felting. She also included a method of incorporating beads by threading them onto roving and felting them in. Never known for my lack of ambition(!), I thought I’d give both techniques a go – and include some fringes for good measure.


This is the result. The holes in Nicola’s scarf were much smaller, but I wanted them quite large, and next time I think I will make them even larger and more of them. The scarf is made with only one layer of wool, and I actually made some of the holes by just pulling the wool apart in some of the thin areas, rather than cutting.

The beads along the fringes worked quite well, but you do have to rub well between the beads to get the roving to felt in properly.

All in all, a happy, productive afternoon. It was good to get back to felting after the break!

Nuno shibori scarf

A few weeks ago I tried nuno felting on nylon net. Last night in class I used a shibori technique to add texture.

nuno net scarf
Nuno net scarf before shibori

We rolled the scarf around a piece of sawn-off drainpipe, about 18 inches high. This was fine, because I wanted the ridges to run vertically along the length of the scarf. If I had wanted horizontal ridges across the width, the scarf would have to be rolled vertically, which would have needed a much longer drainpipe!

After rolling, we secured one edge of the scarf with an elastic band, then tied some string to this and rolled it in a spiral down the rest of the scarf, leaving gaps of about half an inch between each  round. About halfway, we squashed the part of the scarf that had been tied down to the bottom so that the ridges became more pronounced, then finished tying the other half. Finally, we put another elastic band on the top edge of the scarf, tied off the string, and pushed the whole scarf down as far as it would go. (Sorry I don’t have any pictures of this – would be much easier to show!)

We heated some water in a tea urn and placed the drainpipe inside with the scarf at the top, so that no water was touching it. (The idea is to use the steam to set the pleats, not to wet the fabric.) We put a towel on top to seal in the steam, and then the lid. I guess you could do this at home in a tall stockpot or similar, but obviously this limits the width of fabric you can use, which is why a tea urn is ideal.

After steaming for about an hour, we removed the drainpipe and scarf, cut off the elastic bands and string, and admired the end result.

Nuno net scarf after shibori

The tying/steaming process didn’t just produce the pleasing pleats – it also softened the cheap scratchy nylon net into something much more pleasant to handle.

My tutor says that the scarf can be dry cleaned or washed without damaging the pleats, though obviously in cool rather than boiling water.


Circles scarf

What I like about this scarf is that it looks as if it’s made from hundreds of circles sewed together. In fact, it’s made in long strips of circles, which are connected with slip stitch as you go along. So there’s no sewing – only a few ends to tidy up at the end. Which is a relief – I hate having to sew in lots of ends.

And it’s worked in a multicoloured yarn, so you don’t have to keep changing colours all the time.

I found the pattern, by Linda Permann, in an old copy of Inside Crochet magazine, which I picked up at a market stall, but it’s also on Ravelry. I used Silk Garden Sock Yarn by Noro in blue, black, lime, and grey.

Student textiles display at Morley College

I spent all of yesterday afternoon frantically trying to finish my nuno scarf so that it could be included in the display of work by students on the creative and experimental textiles course at Morley College.

You may remember that the velvet circles didn’t felt very successfully onto the scarf, so I had to find some way of attaching them. I originally planned to use the embellisher to dry-felt them, but looking at the scarf, I felt that some sort of texture was needed. So during the week I hand-embroidered some with French knots in graded colours from orange to yellow. The result was a lovely tactile contrast to the burgundy velvet.

I went into college intending to use the embellisher on the rest of the circles, but after experimenting on some scrap velvet I decided I didn’t like the effect – it was a bit flat, and the embellisher caused some of the edges to fray quite badly. So instead I attached the rest with machine embroidery, again using colours ranging from orange to yellow.

The good news is that I just finished the scarf in time to be included in the display. The bad news is that I didn’t have time to take a photo of it before it went in the display case. So the photos below aren’t great, as they were taken through the glass case, with all the reflections from the lights and camera flash.

Still, if you’re in the Waterloo area in the next week and have a few minutes to spare, pop in and see the display for yourself. Our tutor Debby Brown has put in a lot of work – I hope we did her proud.

Student display at Morley
Nuno scarf and felt pot
Student textiles display at Morley College
Sample album and embroidery sampler
Student textiles exhibition at Morley College
Eyeglass and smartphone cases made from recycled plastic bags

Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7HT