Friday, October 17, 2014


This is just an update with NEW INFO on sander safety.

As you can imagine I am right in the middle of getting ready for tomorrow's Workshop while moving to a new apartment all at the same time.  We are primo multitaskers!

This is a great question because when I had to find a new sander the only ones available are those with a "pipe at the back" right underneath the handle where you attach a "bag to collect the dust from sanding."

It seems that in 2014 most tool makers have stopped making 1/3rd sheet sanders (the perfect size for us) and are only making ones with this pesky attachment.

No fear  --- you CAN USE THESE kind of SANDERS without a problem, just NEVER ATTACH a bag to them.  NEVER.

The "vacuum suction" through the holes in the plate of the sander WILL NOT WORK or suck in any water if you DO NOT ATTACH a bag.  The suction only works if you attach a bag.

The only problem you will have with this kind of sander is when you press it on your wet nuno felted fibers.  It will leave a "impression of a hole" sometimes but that has no impact whatsoever on what a SANDER CAN DO FOR YOU.


COVER THE HOLES IN THE SANDER PLATE?  No, you don't need to.  Don't attach any collection bag and there is NO SUCTION.  

10 years ago when felters discovered that sanders were sent from heaven most sanders had metal plates.  NEW SANDERS HAVE DENSE PLASTIC PLATES.  (It used to be that we were told to glue a thick smooth plastic cut to size for old-metal-plate sanders but I would NEVER EVER USE A SANDER WITH A METAL PLATE.)

Don't listen to those guys in the hardware and big box stores because they are NOT FELTERS and they have no idea what you're talking about. ***

*** True Story:  I just visited 2 mom and pop hardware stores and the big box local contractor/hardware store in Petaluma to find COMPLETELY CLEAR 1 MIL PLASTIC DROP CLOTH which I use to encase all my wet projects to start the Rubbing Stage.

All guys, all told me various stories about how 1 mil is good for nothin' and that their NEW OPAQUE WHITE (that I can't see through) would work just as well.  When I explained that I have to SEE WHAT I AM DOING to the fibers on fabric they all looked at me like I was NUTS.

When you go to buy a NEW SANDER don't listen to anything they say.  Us "nice little ladies" will do just fine without all the ridiculous "advice" that is not advice at all.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Inspiration from Opulent Fibers

Transitioning into Fall with new fibers. Order our limited edition color series to capture the moment.
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Welcoming a change...

Fall Transitions

The "Fall Transitions" color series is inspired by my experiences these past weeks here in the Pacific Northwest. Leaves are just starting to change… Greens transitioning to yellows with tips bursting into pink and orange flames. Late summer harvests of figs and tomatoes are still filling baskets at the PSU market, but pumpkins and winter crops are starting to take over again. It is such a short window and one that I truly want to remember as we slip back into the darker days.

This is the first limited edition series I have to share with you and I chose silk hankies because they are reminiscent of the leaves falling and stacking up layers of color around the yard. Each ½ ounce package contains approximately 30 hankies that can be used in so many ways…

Spin them… a great material for drop spindles!
Knit without spinning by stretching them open from the center and break the loop to create a strong length of silk.
Felt them in to create a marbled look by stretching the hankie into a web and placing them over the surface of a layout.
Felt them in with a more controlled look (think flowers!) by scrunching and shaping. Wool fibers will migrate right into the hankie and felt it into your design.

Basha stretching silk hankies over her jacket layout.
Jean Gauger workshop, 2013.
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Portland, OR 97214

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fiber heaven.....MORE TO COME

PLEASE WATCH HERE to see what I have been able to come up with using these new handpainted merino fibers in my 2014 scarves.  They look kind of ho-hum but wait until you see!

Using Silk Fibers - Blog Reader Question

In a recent re-post of the newest "felt-in" at Feltmakers North in Ireland I highlighted a merino/silk nuno felt scarf and got a great question about using silk fibers.

I am not a fan of silk fibers for a couple of reasons (that are about to fly out the window) because when they are nuno felted they often have such a high gloss that they are notoriously hard to photograph for my online stores.  

I also don't think they add any "textural interest" in the way that bamboo fibers placed in and near the surface of about 90% of my designs.  My customers online and in person love that I add bamboo and when I point it out to those interested in buying one of my scarves, they love the look and texture.  Adding bamboo also "lightens" the weight of the wool nuno felted on fabric.  It creates more ethereal designs and the more bamboo I add, the more interesting it is.

However, silk adds one important element that cuts down on the problem many have (including myself) wearing 100% wool.  I used to be able to wear it all the time when I lived on the East Coast and had quite a collection of wonderful all-merino wool sweaters.  As I got older and my skin more finicky, I can wear cashmere but not 100% wool unless it is very high quality merino.  ADDING SILK fibers can eliminate the "scratchy" problem that many of us have with 100% wool (of any quality).  It can make "felted wool" a lot more wearable.

The more silk you add to nuno felt, the softer and more-supple it is.  So I am convinced! that working with more silk in my custom-mixes is the right way to go and plan to make designs with a very high content of silk fibers this season.

Please remember that you have to have 100% wool to make a successful piece of nuno felt ---- but you can add other non-wool fibers up to 50% to change the weight, texture, look and feel.  For those of you who are willing to do the extra labor, you can add up to 70-80% non-wool fibers but they will always take 3x to 4x longer to nuno felt.  

BEST MIXES:  If you buy machine carded custom mixes of up to 50/50 silk/merino you are much more likely to have success.  If you have your own carding machine you can make your own.  If you use wood hand-carders like I do, you do need to card the mixes at least 6 times to make it work ---- and have more of a chance for success.

If you have never worked with silk before, you may want to try a machine-carded mix.  

SURFACE DESIGN using silk fibers:  Always add a layer of wool fibers ON TOP OF your silk fiber if you place it on top of your layout.  Add a layer of wool fibers if you lay out a carded mix and see that some silk fibers are "all by themselves" on top of your fabric --- they need the wool to felt.  Even it is it a gossamer thin layer of wool that no one but you can see, you still need to "anchor" your non wool fibers with wool.  Any stray silk fibers will just fall off once you finish if you don't spend the extra time to make sure they adhere.

Nuno felting has so many possibilities that even if you add 10% non-wool fibers to your projects you will be enchanted by what it adds to the color, weight, texture and total effect of your work.  There are so many wonderful options for adding all kinds of fibers that you can experiment until the sheep come home......

Sunday, September 14, 2014

SANDERS for Nuno Felting - what I'm using now

Those of you who were hooked on the B&D 1/3rd Sheet Finishing Sander which is no longer made have been sending great notes to me with suggestions for substitutes/

I just got back from our local big box hardware store empty-handed because they only carry 1/4 sheet and orbital finishing sanders --- NO 1/3rd sheet at all.  Guess they have "gone out of favor" with contractors who obviously prefer the smaller units.  I imagine they are much more adaptable for custom work but that doesn't help felters at all!!!!!!

Did they count us out?

1/3rd sheets have the biggest plate so you can get more done more quickly.  Period.  You can use the 1/4 sheet but it will just take you twice as long***

My last (boohoo) B&D just bit the dust so I am using my new BUFFALO TOOLS 1/3rd sheet from Sears:

It's OK but it is much lighter than the B&D and the ON switch really needs to be secured with your finger ---- both of these problems make it harder to use.  I have to physically PRESS down harder and my fingers hurt after using it for 10-15 minutes, my usual routine duration.

One great blog reader told me to look into the MIATA 1/3rd sheet sander so I ordered it and will let you know ----------- costly but if it works and last longer than 6 months it might end up being worth it.

Who wants to spend hours and hours looking for a replacement for that wonderful B&D?????

If you have any suggestions, please let me know and I'll post if for all of you to read.

***Palm Finishing Sanders are just what they say --- you hold it with the palm of your hand.  If you have any arthritis or problems gripping a "knob" for several minutes at a time, this might be way too uncomfortable for you to use.  Some of the smaller finishing sanders have the same-sized plate so get one that you can grip comfortably.    The more sanding you do, the more you will pay attention to your comfort ---- if you can "try out" various sanders in a store, do that.  It's worth the extra effort.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Yarn Fringe Part 2

Adding fringe with yarn sounds easier than it looks. 

I've added lots of yarn to my nuno felt scarves but found that it was so time consuming that I wouldn't attempt it again - until now when fringe seems to be making a comeback (let's hope it's a brief one).

Felted fringe takes even more work and since I'm not a "natural" at it, the most I can do is sigh and oooh and aaah at FeltedPleasure's talent for making the most gorgeous felted fringe (most of which end in a leaf shape) I have ever seen.  No one I know can match it. 

I found an incredible handpainted, handspun merino yarn in all the right Fall colors at Dharma Trading's store in San Rafael a couple of months ago.  Expensive but I just had to have it.  My plan was to add it underneath the fibers to add substance and body to my designs and knew it would work for fringe.  It was really the yarn that made me do it!

If you add yarn and want to minimize the amount of extra work, use 100% wool; it will felt better, stick better and end in better fringe. 

You are always going to have these problems with wool yarn:
1.  it will shift and move around when you wet down
2.  it often does not stay in a straight line - see below

Lay out your fabric and lay out a very thin "underlayer" of your fibers in the spots you are going to lay down your wool yarn (here it's along the entire length) and place the wool yarn ON TOP of this underlayer.

Cover with screen, wet down, press, remove excess water (with an old towel) and remove screens.

LOOK AT YOUR ROWS OF YARN TO SEE IF THEY ARE STRAIGHT - they will not be perfect -- use your fingers to coax wonky areas back into line.

DO NOT PULL the yarn to straighten it --------- because if you do, it will shrink at a different rate than your fibers and PULL AWAY FROM your fabric while you complete the finishing steps.  See more about this below.

Just try your best to straighten it out without pulling.

PLACE THE REST of your fibers on top of the yarn and repeat screens on, wet down.  Cover with plastic, move on to the Rubbing Stage.

Don't use a Palm Washboard since it will DISLODGE your rows of yarn.  This is a Rubbing Stage that has to be done by hand.  Use a very light touch for the first 5-8 minutes to make sure you have firmly pressed the fibers into and around your rows of yarn ---- they should then stay in place for the rest of the Rubbing Stage process.

FRINGE ENDS - pay special attention
The wool fringe/yarn will start to felt along with your project but you can help the felting process by using a sander on them when and if you do sanding.  (make sure the fringe is soapy wet)

Carefully check the fibers at the end of your fabric where the fringe "grows" and make sure they are securely nuno felted to the fabric (so your yarn stays straight).  If you need to do extra work to seal that area, use a sander or your hands.   It's important to make sure that the fringe does not pull the fibers away from the fabric--------be extra sure that everything is sealed.

Throw and agitate your finished project BUT NEVER STRETCH AND PULL IT to improve the final "drape" ---- if you pull it the yarn WILL COME OFF THE FABRIC and ruin it.  (I've made this mistake more than once.)

Once completely dry, check the fringe and snip off any scraggly threads at the tips.  You can tie knots into the ends, the tops (near the fabric) or add beads.  You need to see the final fringe before you can make a decision if it needs any further embellishment.  For example, if your fringe looks too "light" next to its nuno felted fabric, add beads or multiple knots so that it looks "balanced" --- you want to make it look like the fringe belongs.

SECRET:  The fringed scarf pictured here is nothing like it is in person -- this merino yarn is so exquisite that it "makes" the scarf into something enchanting that has a lovely soft and fascinating texture.   After using it, I would never settle for an inferior yarn.  (I keep a sample of this yarn in my purse so when I need to compare it for my next purchase, it will be my reference point.)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fringe - adding fringe to your nuno felt designs

Fringe in accessories and garments are the big deal this Fall Season and you can add this to your nuno felt projects - it does take extra work.  You also need, to make it look great at the end, to pay attention to it all through the process.
no thanks!
Fringe can look great or it can be a fiasco.  And it's an add-on that some women just don't like to wear. 

I like it in very limited situations --- but it is THE LOOK in scarves for 2014.  And not just fringe; scarves are now as big as shawls and are wrapped backwards using the middle at the front of the neck with the 2 ends looped over the shoulder to the front.  That takes a lot of scarf and a lot of fabric.


wool yarn fringe

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Books on FASTER Nuno Felting by Nunofeltdesigns - Print & Digital editions

Create better, more intricate nuno felt faster!

TOPICS include:
Part 1: How to use the new tools including the Palm Washboard, Edge Tool, Felting Stone & Felting Mat
Part 2: Tumbler Dryer Method & Shelf Liner Shortcuts, Rolling Machines - what they do, where to buy
Part 3: Importance of Color in Nuno Felting including How to Work with White, Using Non-Wool Fibers, Using Cotton Base Fabrics, Prefelts & Batts, & What went wrong - my fibers fell off?!
Part 4: How to make an Infinity Loop, add Ruffles to your designs on the edges and inside, make Felt Lace, the Two Layer Technique, Mosaic Nuno Felt, add how to quickly make and add Prefelt Swirls as a design element
Part 5: List of sources for supplies including fibers, tools and fabric


Kindle COVER
Kindle Digital Edition*:

PRINT Edition on***:
*NOTE: The Kindle digital edition is readable on all Apple and Android devices including tablets and smartphones using free Kindle Reader software.


NFT&T has hundreds of secrets and tips for how to nuno felt better and faster using the newest and latest techniques and tools. It's so popular that it's now available in several bookstores and public libraries in the US and UK. Available in print and digital editions.

Best Silks for nuno felting with a list of types and weights
Cottons for nuno felting
How to dye your own fabrics with RIT and DYLON powdered dyes
Non-wool fibers and nuno felting
Using a microwave
Using a portable electric sander; detailed directions
How to "water" your nuno felt
Soaps for nuno felting
Learn how to make great EDGES and ENDS
Make "ROVING YARN" to create outlines & designs
What to look for when buying custom-dyed/mixed fibers online
Best throwing technique
Using the "ALL COLD WATER" method
Fix a "mistake" with needle felting
plus many, many more!
or you can buy it from my online store at a discounted price


Friday, September 5, 2014

Blog Reader Question - What Weight Silk Fabric for Nuno Felting?

silk Chiffon
There's a list of suitable silks you can use in the Tips & Tricks Book but what counts most is what you want your project to be ---- a scarf?  Garment?  Bag?  Pillow cover?

Weight and drape are most important for wearables including scarves and garments.  For thin, delicate nuno felt you'll be happiest with SILK GAUZE which is available in mummy weights from 3.5 to 5.  3.5 is very hard to work with and may not be durable enough for an item that is worn often, like a scarf.

I love to use 4.5 and 5 mummy SILK GAUZE and in my experience it is the most flexible.

For heavier weight wearables and for items like jackets and coats (bags too) you'll be better off using a SILK CHIFFON which comes in weights (usually) from 8 to 16 mummy.  The heavier the fabric the longer it takes to nuno felt!

OTHER SILKS including HABOTAI are available in 3/5 to 8 and sometimes you can find it in 10-12m.  It has a very shiny surface and is always harder to nuno felt because of this treatment.

Other silks and silk blends are ok to use but I strongly recommend you make a 12"x12" test piece before you attempt a larger project. 

For example, I have had great success using 100% SILK TAFFETA but, as you probably know, the surface of taffeta varies so widely (it can be very nubby to very sheer to very stiff) so do a test piece first.  A full-bodied silk like this will often crimp and pucker into an un-wearable --- scratchy and stiff which is a final texture that you won't want to wear next to your skin.

SILK ORGANIZA is best for making bags and items like table runners and pillow covers.  High quality Organza is always stiff and will get a whole lot more stiff once it's nuno felted, believe me.

IF YOU ARE JUST STARTING OUT, see if you can get a couple of yards of 4.5-5m SILK GAUZE and a lowest-weight SILK CHIFFON (8m).  Once you work with each one you'll discover that you probably prefer one over the other or one for a certain mix of fibers/embellishments than another.

For WINTER WEIGHT wearables I recommend an 8m SILK CHIFFON which is wonderful to work with.  It has plenty of body and structure but drapes wonderfully once it's nuno felted with as little and one thin layer of fibers.   Makes wonderful shawls and wraps as well. 

SILK CHIFFON ALSO ACTS BETTER if you're adding felt or yarn fringe; FRINGE is the big deal in scarves and garments this season.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

SAVING YOUR PROJECT for the next day....yes you can!

As I said in 100 degree temps I just had to stop in the middle of the Rubbing Stage of a very large nuno felt shawl and wrap it all up in the plastic (it was still wetted down) around a Pool Noodle and save it to finish the next morning. 

It worked but I did have to back up and repeat a few steps.

Thank goodness I still had my Pool Noodles!  Those of you who have been reading this blog and the books know that I really don't Roll my designs manually using the Solar Pool Cover around a Noodle - I go from the Rubbing Stage shortened using the Palm Washboard to Sanding.

This is what I did:
1.  The project was still wrapped inside the 1m clear plastic and still wet-through with cold, soapy water;
2.  I tightly rolled the project INSIDE the plastic around a Pool Noodle;
3.  Secured both ends with strips of muslin ties (use anything but don't use rubber bands - they might leave impressions in your fabric);
4.  Left in a cool place NOT in any sunlight;
5.  Next morning at 8 AM (roughly 16 hours later) I unrolled the design still in plastic:
6.  Opened one side of the plastic and covered the whole designs with my window screen;
7.  Used my Weed Sprinkler to soak the project again, pressed and then used dry towels to soak up any excess soapy water.

Remove screens, fold over plastic to encase the project, complete Rubbing AND use the old fashioned Rolling Method, yes, I did roll it around a pool noodle 350 times (in all four directions) to make sure the fibers migrated through the silk shawl base.

Open plastic, remove shawl, place fiber side down on clean towel, complete SANDING.

Throw, agitate and stretch.
2 day project!

I used the old 350x Rolling Method after Rubbing because I needed to do a LOT more work based on my fiber combination.  I used 50% handpainted tencel with 50% handpainted merino.  This particular tencel was quite dry and required 30-40% more work.  Not all tencel is this dry but the person who handpainted it overprocessed it.

Had it been 100% merino I might have been able to eliminate the Rolling but probably not.

WHY?  This project was sitting wet for 16 hours and that in itself caused some FELTING TO OCCUR without any agitation; wrapped wet inside plastic meant that some reaction occurred just because of the room temps went from a high of 100 to a morning low of 56.  I am sure the fibers were affected by that huge swing. 

Yes, because it worked.  However, I would never do this with a dry or overprocessed fiber ---- because, all in all, it took me 4 times the effort to complete this project.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mistakes......can't get away from them!


Yes, I do make them and have been having such a hard time lately that it's just added to the stress that I'm being forced to move again after 2 forced moves this year, a complete nightmare.

Although there are no hard and fast facts the weather (temp) and humidity DO have an impact on felting.  I have learned that it's best to wait until the temp is around 75 or lower and humidity 50% or lower to do so much back-breaking work. 

Excessive heat also makes me lose patience and I fizzle out about half-way through each step so that I have to do 3x the work to finish.......not worth it.

What I've learned:

1.  TOWELS DO WEAR OUT.  One big bath sheet has been my "cushion" for sanding and it finally bit the dust.  Everything was sticking to it and at first I thought it was the horribly-too-soft water here in Petaluma or my soap, or the very hot weather, or anything but the whole damn thing just started to grab onto everything for dear life and now it looks like a furry piece of junk!

2.  PAJ SILK does not like anything but merino and the finer the fiber the better (do you know that most outsideUS nuno felters regularly use 14-15 micron merino?).  I tried using a combo of merino and handpainted BFL (each applied in layers) and the PAJ rejected the BFL.................

3.  When I hand-carded 50% merino with my handpainted BFL it worked and I was able to push through the fibers on PAJ but I won't use anything but merino (and cashmere) from now on because, even though the scarf is gorgeous, in the end I don't like the final look of BFL on this fabric.  The very fine and tight weave of PAJ demands a very fine and soft fiber.

4.  SOFT WATER creates so many problems that I have to constantly adjust my water temp, amount of soap and everything else.  It even affects my dyes.  I hate it.

5.  YES you can roll up and seal your project for up to 15 hours and pick it up to work on later....................there will be a SEPARATE POST on how to do this.

If you are constantly interrupted while nuno felting or have an emergency and can't complete your project you can SAVE it for later.  Polly Stirling said in a workshop that this was possible but you shouldn't leave it for more than a day................never had to use this tip but I was felting at 3PM while the temp outside went to 100 and that was it, I could not continue without passing out.