Tips on Laying out fibres when felting a scarf in wools and silks

First steps in design

It’s a really good idea, firstly, to look at all the possible colour combinations and designs of your wools. Designs can be uniform or random. The basic scarf can be embellished with silks, remnants, curly locks etc, so do a dry run by moving colours and textures around first.

Colour sketch

Make at least one quick colour sketch in your notebook as a reminder.

Samples or Testers

You’ll find some extra wools in your pack to create some samples, which will indicate shrinkage,thicknesses, textures and colour matches. I usually make 3 samples or testers of 10cm squares. This will save wasting your precious wools later on and help avoid costly mistakes.

Divide your wools in half

If you’re planning a balanced or symmetrical design, split your main wools in half and work outwards from the centre in each direction. This avoids running out of fibres and ending up with uneven, unmatched scarf.

Use length of silk chiffon or habotai as insert.

Unless you are determined to make a thick woolly scarf involving at least 4 layers, use a silk insert. Why?

1. It will make the final piece lighter, softer and stronger, without having to use lots of wool layers. You can achieve this by fully encasing the silk scarf inside two layers of wool, like a sandwich.

2. It will feel smoother around your neck. The silk insert can be fairly short – about 40cm- to feel the benefit. It doesn’t have to run the full final length of the scarf

3. If you’re new to felting, you will find full Nuno felting of wool fibres through the silk to be quite difficult and tedious, so this method is easier if you follow the guidelines below.

Mark out template of silk scarf on bubble wrap.

Use a Sharpie to draw round the outside of your silk insert on the bubble wrap. Then, remove the silk for the next stage.

Decide on length of scarf and allow for shrinkage.

I also mark out the shape of the scarf on the bubble wrap to provide guidelines for laying out drafts of wool fibres.

Start to lay out all the drafts of wool in one direction first. ( Vertically ) Make absolutely sure that that the fibres overlap the edge of the scarf template by at least 4cm along the lengths and by at least 15 to 20 cm at each end.

Make sure each successive row of fibres overlaps each other by at least 3cms. If not, the wool will not attach or felt.

The drafts of wool should be drawn away carefully in an even fashion. No clumpy tufts! Aim for an even and uniform covering. It’s better to lay down two thin layers than one big clumpy layer. I’ve used red for the base layer. My lay out of fibres is patchy her to show you the base layer.

When you have completely covered the base layer, press down with your hands to check for any empty patches and infill.

Lay down the silk inset on top of first wool layer.

Apply second layer of wool.

Think of the silk as a cheese slice inbetween two slices of woolly bread.

This time, lay down wool in horizontal direction. Pay attention to corners at each end by strengthening with good coverage of wool.

Overlap the edges of silk with wool.

It is essential that second layer of wool goes over the silk edge and attached to wool all the way round. You are encasing the silk in wool. Here, I have used multicoloured wool fibres for the second layer to illustrate this method.

Add silk embellishments.

You can add in any silk fibres, scraps, curly tops on this layer, but you must always attach wool to silk. Even a few wisps of wool laid on top of silk scraps will help to glue the silk in place. Never silk on silk- always silk on wool or wool on silk.

The wool pencil rovings will attach okay as will the two wispy pre felts I made for you as they are both made from felting wool. Curly locks can be added to either end but remember to anchor them down with some wisps of wool on top.

Hold final design in place with netting.

Published by Felting in Devon

Felt artist, Fibre artist, Wet Felter, Nuno Felter, Felting in Devon workshops,

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