I have a matchless talent for complicating my life. In my defence, I can say that this will be practice for future projects, but oh, my…
I have always had in mind to try a full-on-modern, Jane-would-never-have-done-this, take on one of the Stitch-Off designs. This is going to be that project.
I’ve been intending to do something with this blanket for quite some time, and I’ve also been intending to have a serious play (as it were) with my embellisher. Not the least of the challenges will be in managing a full size, pure wool blanket – nearly six foot square, and heavy.
I’ve sketched out the central medallion from the design for the child’s cap by eye. From now on, it’s a venture into the unknown…
I began by cutting leaf shapes in two colours out of two different types of felt, and alternating them around the circle. My wavy stem line wasn’t quite even, so I’ve tried to even up the spacing by eye, and attached the leaves roughly.
I’m expecting to build up this pattern in layers, and fine-tune the felting as I go, so the first stage here is just to make sure nothing moves too much..
Originally needle-felting was an industrial process for making a non-woven fabric. It dates back to about the 1860s, and these days is used for things like geotextiles and insulation. A quick rummage online told me that among the applications are tiles on the Space Shuttle and tennis court surfaces. The application to craft and art is much more recent, but it uses exactly the same needles – just not as many of them!
However, because of this background, an embellisher is a great way to use wool fibre as well as fabric in a project, and that in turn means an opportunity to play with colours. One of the strongest memories I have of my childhood introduction to the textile industry is visiting a woollen mill in Totnes in Devon, which made upholstery fabrics. The manufacturing process began with bales of alarmingly bright colours of wook fibre being thrown into a carding machine, and ended with wonderfully subtle, lively colours of fabric coming off the looms. I’m going to see what I can do to emulate this intimate blending of colour using my little hand cards.