In the Fall 2011 issue of Living Crafts, we shared some beautiful resources for Pencil Rovings and some projects for inspiration on how to use them. Here is another wonderful project that uses pencil rovings in feltmaking to create a delicate, lightweight, perfect- for-Spring shawl.
One of the great advantages of using pencil roving is the ease with which we can draw out refined patterns, words or shapes. Pencil rovings speed up our layout time, allowing us to complete a complex looking project more quickly and easily. Our Scribbles Nuno Felt Shawl plays with this quality, creating a beautiful, random pattern in a lightweight, lovely to wear felt shawl.
36 x 30 inch silk gauze or chiffon
1.5 ounces Hampton Artistic Yarns pencil roving, shown in twilight colorway
2 lengths of bubble wrap, each 36 inches by 80 inches
1 length of plastic sheeting, like a plastic drop cloth, 36 inches x 80 inches
pool noodle or pvc pipe 36 inches long
Lay out the plastic sheeting on your work surface. Lay out one piece of bubble wrap on top, bubble side up.
Cut the silk length in half, diagonally, into two triangles.
Place the short edge of each triangle together, overlapping slightly.
To help the fibers move more easily through the silk, we will draft the pencil rovings. This means gently pulling and opening up the wool fibers. We can do this ahead of time, drafting the entire length of pencil roving by holding the fibers with our thumbs, about 6-10 inches apart and gently pulling until we feel the fibers release, but not come apart. We can also draft the fibers as we work, stretching them out as we “draw” with the wool on the silk. Outline all the way around the edges with a single strip of pencil roving and connect along the middle where the two silk triangles join, with two strips. This will felt the two silk pieces together and create a nice finished edge to our shawl.
“Scribble” a random pattern of loops working over the entire surface of the shawl. The beautiful dyeing of the pencil rovings will create their own patterning. Try to work fluidly, working from one side to the other and back. Have some of the scribbled loops touch or even overlap the outside edges of the shawl.
Mix about 1 teaspoon of dish soap with 1 quart of warm (not hot) water. Apply this mixture evenly over the surface of the entire shawl using a watering can, a plastic sports bottle or by pouring the water through a colander. We want to lightly water the surface, without moving our wool designs; just enough for the fibers to be wet, but not sitting in a pool of water.
Cover the shawl with the second piece of bubble wrap and press down with your hands. This flattens the wool fibers, bringing them into closer contact with the silk, and distributes the water and soap mixture. Press down on each section of the shawl 10-15 times to thoroughly wet out the fibers, before moving on to the next section. Work over the whole shawl in this way.
Lift the bubble wrap and check that all the fibers are flat and wet.
Replace the top layer of bubble wrap, and roll up all the layers, including the plastic sheet, around a pool noodle or length of pvc pipe. Roll applying steady gentle pressure for 3-5 minutes. Open up felt and check surface for even wetness. Apply more soap/water solution as necessary. We all have different felting rhythms, so you may roll up tightly and roll vigorously for 10-15 minutes total, or roll more gently for 30-45 minutes. Periodically open the roll, check the felt surface and re-roll. Check by rubbing your finger over the surface to see how much the fibres are moving, or by pinching to see how much the fibres lift. Once your fibers have started to move through the silk, and you can feel that they are attached well, you can roll without the pool noodle inside and alternate the rolling with tossing the balled up shawl down onto your open bubble wrap. This really helps to shrink the wool felt. Continue until the wool is quite well fulled, and feels firm.
Remove from roll and rinse well under warm water, to finish the fulling and remove any soapy residue. Lay flat to dry, or run through the spin cycle on your washing machine and steam dry with your iron. This gives the wool felt a tight smooth finish.
Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.
In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at www.kattikloo.com and on Facebook.