Friday, 30 March 2012

Tried & Tested: Natural Dyes

On this fabulous sunny day, I stained my fingers with Logwood Chips in an effort to produce some lovely samples for the website and instead became enamoured with the craft of dyeing using plants.
Top left to bottom right, samples included Merino wool prefelt, cotton fabric,
silk fabric, Mohair yarn, 80% wool / 20% nylon yarn, and paper yarn
Fustic Chips and Logwood Chips
The different fibre content absorbed the colours in different ways. The purple of the Logwood Chips was quite consistent while the colour from the Fustic Chips ranged from creamy yellow to mustard.
The dyed swatches of materials   
Visit our Fact File page on the website to find out more about this Natural Dyeing experiment - and learn from my mistakes!

Monday, 26 March 2012

The Tool Kit: getting started with tapestry weaving

Tapestry weaving is an art form. Pattern, symbols and pictures can be built up in the weave to create decorative wall hangings, rugs or cushion covers.

A yarn (which is called the warp) is wrapped around a simple sturdy frame and tied in place. 

The warp threads wrapped onto the frame.

A (weft) yarn is then woven under and over the warp yarn using a tapestry bobbin.  Each row of weft yarn is pushed down with the point of the bobbin until the warp is completely covered to create a 'weft-faced' fabric.

Tapestry Weaving on a simple frame

Our Tapestry Fact File page shows how to arrive at this stage through step-by-step instructions. 

A variety of materials can be woven into the warp.  Beads and feathers will add decoration, while strips of plastic bag or paper yarns will add excitement and texture.

When the tapestry is complete, the ends can be cut and tied-off or they can be tied onto a wooden dowel at the top and bottom so that the tapestry can be wall mounted.  Another method of finishing off the tapestry is to thread the warp ends with beads.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Felix and his Knitted Farmyard

The Knitted Farmyard by Hannelore Wernhard
When this charming book The Knitted Farmyard, written by Hannelore Wernhard was first published, the business Fibrecrafts (now George Weil) was still in its infancy. 

Denise Kitchin was commissioned to knit the farm as a promotion for the outlet in Dartington and the book flew off the shelves.  This popular and successful book, which contains a collection of patterns designed to create a whole farm, has now been reprinted. 

Nearly 30 years on, the knitted farmyard still exists and continues to be played with by members of the Bowers' family. 

Felix Bowers plays with animals knitted from the original publication
of the book The Knitted Farmyard
The Knitted Farmyard is amongst a number of new books which have just arrived, visit the What's New? section of the website to view.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Canvas Bag painted with Deka Permanent

There are a number of 'bags for life' being offered at super markets, but if you want to create a unique and personal design, our canvas bag can be painted with fabric paints. This is my latest attempt which you can read more about in the Fact File page, the simple design has been painted using Deka Permanent Fabric Paints.

A canvas bag painted with Deka Permanent fabric paint
The paints are available in a large selection of opaque colours which can be used on white and light coloured natural fabrics such as cotton, canvas and silk.  Their consistency is quite thick which means that the flow can be controlled quite easily and they do not flood the fabric.  Adding water will make the paint both thinner and transparent, or there is a paint extender which can be combined with the paint to make pastel shades without thinning it. Deka Permanent fabric paints are set by ironing the fabric on the reverse which makes the paint washable to 60°C.

A cushion cover painted with Deka Permanent fabric paint

I painted the cushion cover above with the same paints.  The paints went on to the finely woven cotton much more smoothly than on the coarser canvas fabric. The bag below was painted with Jacquard Lumiere fabric paints, see our Fact File page to see how it was designed, or browse the George Weil range of fabric paints.

A canvas bag painted with Jacquard Lumiere fabric paint
by Allison Holland

Monday, 19 March 2012

Spring coloured Wool Tops for Making Felt

When I walked into the warehouse this morning with Sharon's cup of tea, I couldn't resist coming back with the camera to photograph this assortment of wool tops.

6 of the 9 colours of Wool tops waiting to be bagged up

Sharon was in the process of collating together the wool tops into a 1kg mixed bag of light colours.  There are nine colours in this selection and I was struck at how Spring-like the colour combination is.  These 1kg mixed bags are also available in a selection of mid tone colours and a selection of the dark colours, making them an economical way of sampling the entire colour range.

If you haven't yet had a go at felt making, these lovely pastel shades may tempt you, and we hope our Fact File pages on felt making will give you enough information to get you started. 

Sharon in full swing
by Allison Holland

Friday, 16 March 2012

Rug Yarn for Weaving

You may not have come across this product on our website as we recommend a sample card or a visit to the showroom to help you with your choice.  The colours are generally non-repeatable but we do hold reasonably large volumes in stock, we therefore suggest enough yarn is ordered so that you can complete your project.  Here is just a small selection of the colours currently in stock.
80% wool, 20% nylon rug yarn
The yarn is 80% wool and 20% nylon, approximately 810m/kg (400yds/lb) 2.50 Dewsbury. 

If you would like to see what we currently have available, please order a sample card, specifying the colours you would like to see in the notes section at the checkout, and we will make up a card to your requirements.  Alternatively you are welcome to give us a ring during office hours on 01483 565800.
Cone of rug yarns

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Paper Yarn

The Journal, Spring 2012
We were really excited to see the latest cover of The Journal magazine.  Belinda Rose's colourful and innovative three dimensional weavings shows the versatility of these paper yarns.

Allison took this image (below) of the George Weil corded paper yarns in 2005.  It shows how the ends have been untwisted.  In this cover image featuring Belinda's weaving, the yarn has been untwisted at intervals along its length. 

Paper yarn can be dyed to any colour using Procion MX dyes or coloured using fabric paints such as Jacquard Dye-na-Flow

Corded & Shifu paper yarn
The ends of the corded yarn untwisted
The image above left, shows two samples of paper yarn. The sample on the left shows a corded yarn which means the paper has been twisted (or spun) to create a very strong yarn.  The corded paper yarn needs to be dampened with water to make it flexible enough for weaving or knitting. The sample on the right is Shifu paper. Shifu or folded paper yarn is very flexible but not as strong as the corded yarn.

Paper yarn knitted

Paper yarn woven

The image above shows examples of paper yarn knitted.  The white knitting is the fine loosely spun yarn and was knitted using large knitting needles, the brown knitting was created using a folded yarn. The image above right shows a woven folded yarn.  The fabric is very flexible and ideal for making hats and bags.  The image right shows the corded paper yarn woven into a braid.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Applying Gutta Outliner

The purpose of outliner or gutta resist, is to create a boundary around part of an image or pattern so that silk paint or dye does not run beyond that boundary.
Silk Painting using outliner
Painting on silk fabric using outliner and Deka Silk Paints
A number of interlocking squares were drawn onto the silk fabric using a black outliner.  The outline of each element is completed so that the paint will not seep out through any gaps and it is important to ensure that the outliner has fully penetrated through the silk fabric to create a complete barrier.
Leaves painted on silk fabric

Outliner can be used to great effect in silk painting, here it is used to outline the leaf design so that two wet paints can be applied and blended.

Visit the website to see the George Weil Fact File page Using outliner or gutta in Silk Painting

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Polymer Clay: Embellishment and Inclusions

Most polymer clay manufacturers offer effects clays such as pearlescent, glitter and transluscent. There are also a number of materials which can be used to add effects to the clays including foils, mica powders such as Jacquard Pearl-Ex, resins and liquid clays.
Sue Heaser's polymer clay necklace
Sue Heaser's necklace (above) was made by first rolling out black clay and placing a layer of metal leaf onto the clay before rolling the clay again to fracture the metal leaf. A leaf shaped cutter was then used to cut out the decorative beads. When the beads had been baked, a coat of varnish was applied over the foil to seal it and make the jewellery more durable. Lisa Pavelka's Magic-Glos is very effective for this purpose as it dries clear and glossy but can also be used to create raised patterns such as water droplets. The Magic-Glos can be applied in layers and built up to create a lens. It is crystal clear and dries very hard once exposed to sunshine or a UV light source.

Here we show how some of the Jacquard Pearl-Ex colours are very effective when use on the surface of clay. Three of the interference colours have been brushed over the surface of the black polymer clay.  When baked, the Pearl-Ex is made permanent with a coat of varnish or Magic-Glos.

The translucent clays can be used to create faux effects. These simple beads were created by combining a white translucent clay with two other colours (see more about how these were made from our Fact File page).

The liquid polymer clays which include FIMO Liquid clay and Translucent Liquid Sculpey can be used for image transfer or there are Lisa Pavelka's waterslide transfer sheets which come either blank for home printing or with a selection of images such as the one featured in this necklace designed by Lisa.
Lisa Pavelka's pendant created using a Waterslide Transfer Sheet
For other ways of decorating or colouring clays, experiment with anything that will withstand the temperature of your oven at 130°C. Use tea leaves, dried herbs, or sand but take care not to add anything that will give out toxic fumes.

There are a selection of glues, resins, varnishes, foils, metal leaf and metallic powders available from the George Weil website.