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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Flowers that Bloom in the Spring...

Spring arrives slowly, and sometimes rather reluctantly in Erie. Last weekend, we had a beautiful spell of warm weather with temps that reached almost 80 degrees! This past weekend? Yup, its Erie. Snow flurries and sleet. A miserable 37 degrees was what the thermometer on my Jeep was reading as I was huddling into my heated seat on my way to an animal rescue farm to watch alpacas being shorn. What, you say? Alpaca shearing? How does this relate to bridal flowers? Not a darn thing. It was what I was doing this weekend with my knitting friends. Tromping around a barn, taking pictures of alpacas, avoiding stepping in unidentifiable poop, and watching the gorgeous fleece come off these charming animals. And dreaming what it must be like to spin and knit this fabulous fiber.

Back to the subject at hand. There is a new fascinator in the Etsy Shop. It has a unique feature, a Floral Coin Pearl Broach that can be removed from the center of the flower and worn after the wedding! I love making items that have a "double life". The fascinator also has a detachable French Net face veil. The headpiece can be worn on either side of one's face, or on top of the head. Cocque feathers give it a bit of charming whimsy, don't you think?

My latest adventure with flowers has been with my passion for wool and knitting. I have been interested in felting for years, thanks to my Minnesota friend, Avis, who introduced me to the idea that you can shrink knitted wool on purpose. I have been delving into books about knitting and felting flowers. Felting is an ancient craft, going back to Asia and Eastern Europe. Most likely shepherds picked up bits of stray wool left by their sheep and tucked them inside their moccasins and boots. When the wool matted down from the pressure of their feet, and moisture from becoming wet, it became wool. Of course, their feet would have stayed warmer because of the wool fibers in their footwear! Wool can be felted or "fulled" with water and soap over a mesh screen, or dry by poking it over and over with barbed needles. The barbed needles tangle the fibers together, forming a matted mess that one continually shapes as you harden with the continued poking. The goal of course is to poke the fibers with the sharp barbed needles, and not ones fingers!

The techniques are all fascinating, and after a lot of practice, the goal is to be able to just about "paint" with the many colors that wool roving is available in. Its amazing, and for a fiberholic such as I, it is addicting. So here we go with yet another fiber hobby. Then, there is knitted felt, as mentioned earlier, where a garment or item is knitted about 40% larger than what you want, then washed in the washer. The soapy water, combined with the agitation shrinks the wool in this "fulling" process. The fabric is very dense and durable. It makes great handbags! And afterwards, needle felting can be done on the surface to add decoration.

I have a large felted tote bag project in process at the moment. The tote bag is made and "fulled". I am now in the process of creating the flowers. I am not sure of what the final arrangement will be, as I am still so new in the designing of felted flowers, both in knitting and needle felting. I am also needle felting over some of my knitted fulled flowers to add more definition and detail to them. I will be adding more pictures soon as the project progresses!

This is my kind of gardening! Fiber style!

1 comment:

Judy said...

Oh, I love the double life, too! And your fiber flowers are fantastic! Can't wait to see the final product!