Birdless in Ilkley

Despite the lack of an actual fibreglass curlew I’ve continued to plan for this project. I’ve jotted down lots of ideas and finally got quite a lot of them straight in my head. Early on I thought it would be a good idea to include a leaf shaped flap which, when lifted, would reveal a flower underneath. This has been discounted along with the thought to hide lettering on the curlew and to include a barn structure on the background. There will be no fabric on the felt and no found objects such as buttons or hardware. All the texture and colour will be created through use of different wools and how they’re felted.

I’m not going to tell you yet which ideas I’ve left in but I have been considering how I will felt the curlew. Fibreglass is a mixture of glass and plastic resin so it will be non-porous and very slippy. It’s a large, odd shape so it can’t go in a washing machine or be rolled. Guess I’m left with lots of rubbing! I’ll start the felt flat but transfer to the curlew whilst it’s still very soft as it’ll be easier to felt on and be completely seamless (wouldn’t want anyone removing all my hard work). Keeping it wet and warm throughout the felting process will also be a challenge and I’m contemplating the use of lots of bowls and a large covered area to keep the water under control or the use of my bath. If you’ve any other suggestions please send them in.

dyed wensleydaleAfter speaking to Ladka and others with more natural dyeing experience I have decided to use chemical dyes. The main reason being the time available, I have to complete the curlew in time for it to dry and be handed over three weeks today. Natural dyeing takes more time and I would need to check each recipe for colour fastness which also takes time. So natural dyeing will need to be a project on its own.

So, I’ve had a lovely day dyeing Swaledale fibres, Blue Faced Leicester roving, silk throwsters waste, silk chiffon and muslin. Well, there’s no point in wasting all that dye, is there. You can see the results for yourself. The Swaledale isn’t a pure white wool and as you can see it takes the dye differently from the Blue Faced Leicester (BFL). Some of these colours look quite bold but flat at the moment however, when carded together and mixed with the ready dyed BFL they’ll be great..

bfl rovingTowards the end of the day I made up a purple dye bath and put in: Swaledale fibres, muslin, roving and some Wensleydale curls and the strangest thing happened. With the exception of the muslin,which came out blue, everything came out pink. As I rinsed the fibres the excess dye washed out was blue. This has never happened to me before. I’ve checked that it was an acid and not a fibre reactive dye but that’s not the reason. Anyone with an explanation – please let me know. Meanwhile, it will all have to be dyed again and hope that when I come to produce some more greens that I don’t have the same problem with the blue.

Whilst I’ve been writing this I’ve had a call to say that I can collect my curlew – yippee.

P.S. My friend Kate has admitted to crocheting 3 guinea pigs, does anyone else feel the need to confess?

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