Sunday, September 4, 2011

Add some fiber!

All you hear these days is that fiber is good for you. Well, I guess you could say that fiber is a fresh way to add texture and color to your projects. You see yarn and fiber in so many mixed media, quilting and fabric jewelry creations. I think yarn is a fabric waiting to happen. It amazes me how knitters can take a skein and turn it into a sweater or scarf in no time flat. Wow. I knit, but every thing I make turns into a triangle as I drop one stitch after another. So, I will be showing you how to sew with fiber and yarn.

My addiction to yarns is ridiculous. I went into my closet the other day and they all came tumbling down around me. I keep them in big bags according to their color, texture and style. I crochet and knit a little, but not nearly enough to justify my huge collection. So I decided it was time to do a little destashing and share the wealth. The yarns in my assortments are beautiful and rich. No sport weight or worsted yarns for me. No... I need variegated colorways representing every color in the rainbow and then some. I like bits of sparkle, long spidery fibers, bumps, lumps and ladders and ribbons. I buy one at a time to justify their ridiculous price tags. A little splurge here and there is good for the soul!

Here are a few links to my Etsy Shop where you can purchase some of these beautiful fibers and yarns; Pretty in Pink-, Sky and Water- and Landscape-

Take a look at my Etsy shop. I'm ready to share the wealth. Grab an assortment and explore the beauty of yarn and fiber as the perfect touch to your next project. Each strand is 5 feet long. Long enough to crochet a little posy, enhance a your next quilt, create a necklace, bracelet, tassel or pom pom. Each listing gives a list of projects in my shop that include fiber. I will also be adding tutorials to this blog in the next week.

Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of your yarn stash.

Couching- This can be done with a machine or by hand. Couching is simply trapping yarn under stitches. Some machines have a couching foot. The foot is made to accommodate a thick, long string of fiber. Simply slide the fiber into the groove and stitch away. I couch without this foot in a few different ways.
Simply set your machine for a zig zag stitch, wide enough to straddle the yarn. Its ok to poke the yarn. That makes it more stable and less likely to work itself free.
You can also couch across fibers. In the brooch above, I lay fibers across a piece of woven, recycled wool. I took it to the machine and stitched up and down across the layers of yarn to hold them firmly down. I then hand stitched beads, a charm and a pin back to complete the brooch.

You can create whole cloth from fibers without a knitting or crochet needle in an afternoon. Its easy and fun, but you will need a few assortments to make a nice long scarf. The following directions are for a full scarf, but I would advise trying this out on a smaller, practice cloth at least a foot square. You will be able to use this swatch for other projects when finished.

No-Knit, No Crochet Yarn Scarf
You will need to purchase a roll of water soluable, dissolving stabilizer. Solvy makes a roll, 12" wide by 9 yards long. Find a surface to work on that will accommodate the desired length of your scarf. Cut a piece of stabilizer the length of your finished scarf. Begin laying pieces of yarn and fiber, even scraps of fabric on top of the stabilizer. Keep adding until you have a generous layer of yarns. The best results come when you criss-cross your yarns. Once you have the stabilizer covered to your satisfaction, cover it with another piece of stabilizer the same size and length of the first. You will be creating a sandwich of sorts, with the yarn being the good stuff in between slices of stabilizer. Pin up and down the edges and in the middle, the full length of the scarf. You can even use a glue stick sparingly to hold the 2 layers together. Once you have both layers stabilized with pins or glue, carefully take your sandwich over the your machine. Begin stitching up and down and across all of the layers of yarn. It's okay if it begins to look bunchy and misshapen. The sewing machine thread has to be connected to other sewing machine threads. These threads will bind all of the yarn fibers together to create a whole cloth. Don't rush through this step. Add more stitches than you think are enough. You can use matching or contrasting threads. You can use straight, zig zag or any decorative stitch you desire. You can use one stitch or use many different stitches. These rows and rows of machine stitching will be somewhat evident in the final product, even when using matching threads.
When you have stitched each layer from top to bottom and side to side numerous times, its ready for the magic. In a large bowl, filled with warm water, submerge your scarf. Let it sit for a minute, then gently agitate the bath until the stabilizer begins to melt away. You will want to refresh the water bath a few times. If you feel brave, you can run warm water directly over your fibers to rinse the rest of the stabilizer away.
Lay your scarf across a layer of towels. Gently press it to remove the excess moisture. Arrange your scarf across fresh towels. Do a bit of "blocking" to create an even, flat cloth. Allow it to dry completely. Once dry, you are finished! Add some fringe to the ends if you like. The scarf pictured is a thin example of this method. I packed the fibers and yarns close together and used a zig zag stitch to hold everything together.

Hand wash gently when it needs a bit of cleaning and lay it flat to dry. You will love how easy and fun this process is.

I'd like to share some innovative ideas on couching and water soluble fabrics from a talented fiber artist, Christine Jones. Her blog is called Art Textiles. The first image is on couching and second is water soluble machine embroidery. You can click on the title of these images or her name to visit her blog and find out more about her work and her techniques.


Water Soluble Machine Embroidery

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