Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ArtFelt Fun

If you've just downloaded your annual renewal and membership form, you'll notice there is a questionnaire. One of the questions is regarding how often you take mini-workshops and what kinds you would like.

Workshop project made by an AKG member.

Our June mini-workshop was with superstar Karin Skacel. And the workshop wasn't about knitting, but rather was about playing with fiber and getting instant gratification. For those of you who get caught in the holiday gift-making maelstrom, may I suggest you scribble the word "ArtFelt" into the margin of your December day planner page?

Karin brought lots of inventive and beautiful samples. This lovely shawl in browns incorporates commercial ribbon yarn! So you can even use some of your stash in you ArtFelt projects. You can add all sorts of interesting things to your project. Karin had little snippets of yarn that we added to create a speckled lining to our projects. If you have sparkly threads, or even beads or sequins on threads, you could add those to your project to add bling.

Some of the samples Karin brought used fiber in strips to create open spaces -- very modern and deconstructionist! You can be very free and inventive in the shapes and designs you make with ArtFelt. This technique is very much like drawing or painting with fiber. If you layer some of the colors, you can get effects that resemble marble or abstract painting.

Karin did share some important pointers:
  • Keep your fingers away from the felting needles! Sharp! For delicate work, use one needle to hold fibers in place while you stab with the other needle.
  • Use a straight edge to turn over frizzy edges and needle them tidy.
  • Be sure to overlap all the fibers. They felt better that way.
  • Fibers shrink more in length than width. In the striped scarf (below, left), the ruffle formed because the long stripes shrank more than the sideways ruffle.
  • Corollary: Be sure to layer background fibers in both directions so that your project will felt evenly to the desired shape.
In the picture at left, Karin shows us how a properly felted project does have some strength. A finished felted project should hold up over time.

There will be some leftover beginner's kits available for $10 at the July meeting. These would be great to tuck away in your craft closet for those last-minute gifts. Each kit will make a small project, such as a sleeve for an MP3 player or cell phone, as did in the workshop. But you could also make a pocket for circular knitting needles, a tall sleeve for straight or double-pointed needles, or a fold-over for tapestry needles. For non-knitting gifts, you could make a dice bag, a fingernail file sleeve, a pocket-pack for tissues, sunglasses case, photo case (for those who still carry printed photographs), or business card case.

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