Our efforts to combine silk and alpaca into sheer fabrics just turned another corner.
Since we began Whispirit, we have felted without water to create our alpaca fabric. We have relied on a mechanized needle felting process to create yards of stable and strong textiles. With this process we have been able to range between more dense outer wear for outdoor winter, which uses 3 layers of alpaca; less dense early spring/fall and lighter”innerweight” fabrics for the warmer spring and air-conditioned summer, using a single thin layer of alpaca. This is a quick look at last year’s inner weight jackets, wraps and other spring and summerweight apparel.
Recently we have been working with techniques of using small amounts of water and soap after needle felting to create even lighter, airy, summer-weight fabric. We experimented with water felting in the washing machine for a handful of scarves and shawls last summer. We found this technique to use too much water and to be too difficult to control or even predict the outcome. Over the last few weeks, we have been trying out a technique recommended by fellow fiber artists and FeltLOOMERs Janice Arnold and Laverne Zabielski for finishing the felting after looming. Laverne even created a video about this simple technique that uses a small amount of soapy water sprayed onto the felted fabric, a technique of rolling the fabric and wrapping it in plastic and then running it in the dryer for a short while.
This technique allows us to leave sections of the underlying silk unexposed, which develops lovely puckers and gathers as the water, silk and natural fibers work together in lovely weaves of texture and color. It is like a felted kaleidoscope.
Off to Puyallup, Washington for the Stitchery and Sewing Expo 2016. If you are there, you will see me wearing one of our new designs. Til next time, Sandy.