I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Confession time... The felted failure.

This morning we had a strange, but beautiful, sunrise.
 Low clouds, heavy with rain, letting the sun peek through for just a few minutes. It didn't last long. The dark clouds won again and the rain came upon us for a third day.

It occurred to me that this was one of those strange but beautiful days when I had the time to show all of you my dark side and that Farmlady can really botch up one of her artistic endeavours. She doesn't like to talk about her mistakes. I don't think she is alone in this.
(She's going to tell this story in the third person so it doesn't hurt so much.)

Over a week ago Farmlady decided to try making a large Nuno felted scarf. She read quite a few websites on the subject. She had taken a class last fall and successfully completed a beautiful scarf, with the help of a wonderful artist named Lorri Scott.  Farmlady had done lots of felting and thought that she knew the in's and outs of putting one together.
So, that morning, Farmlady laid out the bubble wrap on top of an old towel and meticulously choose the fabric. She ironed the pieces and, laying them upside down on bubble wrap to form the design of the scarf.
When she got it just the way she wanted it, Farmlady began to "glue" the pieces together with small amounts of roving.
When the felting process is completed, the wool will hold onto the fabric and bind everything together. She made sure that every piece of fabric was overlapped and had the wool roving in between.
Then she covered all of it except for the middle and the ends, with a thin layer of the wool roving and covered the whole scarf with a piece of nylon tulle. She got a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water and some liquid soap and sprayed the whole scarf, using a plastic bag, over her hand to pat and smooth all the wool down. This is a long process. The tulle would be removed later when the wool started to stick to the fabric.
When the fabric and wool were thoroughly saturated, she put another piece of bubble wrap on top and rolled the "scarf" up on a piece of a yellow pool tube that kids like to float on when they go swimming.

 Farmlady tied it with some fabric strips  and then she began to ROLL. She rolled it for quite a while, stopped and opened it, checked... nope , no adhesion yet. So she rolled it up from the other end and ROLLED it again. Checked,.. nope.. nothing.
Rolled some more. Checked...
She finally went out on the porch and ROLLED the whole thing with her feet... always an alternative if your arms get tired.
Farmlady was getting tired .
Finally, after quite a few times, ROLLING and UNROLLING, she laid the "scarf out on the table and check to see if the fabric and the wool were going to "become one".
Was this a fruitless endeavor for some unknown reason, or was she just tired? It was starting to stick and she knew that she should continue the ROLLING longer, but... she didn't.
 As soon as she thought it was sticking at all, she filled a plastic bag with very hot, almost boiling water and dumped the scarf into the bag. She shook it. Rolled it... slapped it around in the sink for a while. CHECKED IT....
 She pulled the scarf out of the bag. The ends didn't stick. She had to take them off.... The lovely eyelet fabric in the middle too.
Still, nothing happen... so she threw the whole thing into a mesh bag and into a small soapy load in her washing machine. YEP! She just did it. She was tired of messing with it.
After more that 5 or 6 five minute intervals, the fabric started  to "scrunch". and within about 30 to 40 minutes the scarf was finished felting.
Farmlady was finished too. She rinsed out the scarf and rolled it in her hands. She realizing that she had made a mistake. She wasn't sure what the mistake was. The cotton fabric maybe?... although it did finally "scrunch" up and do what it was suppose to do. The wool?... that she had ordered from a farm and was not the cleanest roving she had ever used. Or, and this was probably the real "confessional" reason, HER OWN IMPATIENCES.
So she ended up with a very funny looking "scarf".
With a hole in the middle.
Did she hear laughter in the air?  Probably.
Will she try to remedy the situation?... Of course.
She realized that it could become the summer blouse for Miss Gray, a rather lovely mannequin that belongs to a friend of hers.
Or, she could make a new bodice for Bear.
Bear only has a heavy sweater to wear and summer is coming.

The felting process is a strange one and you cannot be impatient with it. Farmlady thinks that she could also hang this felted failure in front of her the next time she attempts a Nuno felted scarf....
  ...as a reminder that some things take time and patience... and a large amount of effort.
 "ART", as in life, requires making mistakes and doing things over and over until you get them right.
Farmlady slept many nights on this. She had dreams of making a scarf that held together and looked beautiful. She will try again and if she gives herself another chance, she may learn a bit more about the process of things and having to reconcile oneself to the way something is accomplished.
PATIENCE is of great importance.... Farmlady really did learn a lesson from this.
If you have an opinion on any of this, she would love to hear it.
.... She is listening.


  1. smiles...art like life def requires us to be willing to fail...and accepting that that is ok some times....i think you can get creative in how to use it, but you got your lesson...smiles.

  2. oh you call this the dark side...I call this the normal side...hee hee
    I'll bet you swore in your sleep that night :) I rather like the bear bodice

  3. Sorry your project did not turn out the way you wanted it to. Hopefuly the next time it will. Have a blessed evening. Madeline

  4. I was wondering about your "fiasco". It's really very beautiful, though, what there is of it

  5. Ah... tell the Farmlady that she is not the only one to ever feel that she has lost something to impatience. I have, I can't honestly say, learned the art of patience all the time but I have gotten where I have more patience than less with the creative process. I only got it after any number of discarded pieces of art and the same or more pieces of reworked or restrung pieces of jewelry. Farmlady is braver than me... I haven't shared any of my failures... yet.


  6. It doesn't matter how long you've been doing something, you still get things sent to teach you some more!!

  7. Another option for Farmlady ... turn it into a small bag for forays to the flea market or whereever she might want to carry just a few items!? I love the colors.

  8. Ah, but isn't it nice when even our "failures" have some beauty?

    I would suggest doing a small (swatch) test before doing your full project. Just use a couple pieces of the material and the wool that you intend to use to get an idea of how it's going to felt. I raise Shetland sheep and have found a huge difference in how even the various COLORS in my flock will felt!

    Keep on trying. You'll do better next time...

  9. Well, my first comment is that I would like you to please tell FarmLady that she is very brave by letting us all read of her "Fiasco." Second, I really like how it looks on her Bear.
    I've never felted like this before. The only way I've done it is by knitting with wool, and then putting it in a hot washer. I think it must take more patience the way you did this with roving. It's still very pretty, even though it didn't turn out like you had in your mind.

  10. Miss Gray said it looks quite nice on Mr Bear. Sometimes you learn something new from past mistakes and sometimes they just PISS YOU OFF. 'Nuff said.

  11. If I had a dollar for every time I attempted projects that didn't work out, I'd be one rich farmlass!
    I thought your scarf looked kinda cool...how about using it for a frame of sorts? maybe a cloth collage inside it? Keep the faith Connie!

  12. What you do with this, blows me away! Sigh. Talented, so talented and wise :)


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