Welcome to Staff Show & Tell, where Lion Brand Yarn Studio staff members like to show off our beautiful yarn in their own projects. Read on for expert tips and yarncraft inspiration!
We sat down with Darrin to hear all about his latest artistic masterpiece.
Tell us about your project.
When Lion Brand CEO David Blumenthal asked me to yarn bomb a wooden chair for his office, he said he thought I would probably do something on the more unusual side of the spectrum. Most people think of crochet or knitting when they hear yarn bombing. I wanted to do something more surprising, and so I went with felting.
I thought the recipient would appreciate felting as the medium. David has often complimented one of my cobweb lace felting projects, which I made for a class I teach at the Studio [check out our upcoming cobweb lace class here!]. He likes unusual textures and bright colors, and my yarn choices reflected this.
What yarn did you use?
All different yarns! For wet felting, animal hair fibers work best. I used LB Collection Silk Mohair, Alpine Wool, LB Collection Angora Merino, and Fishermen’s Wool. (While silk doesn’t really felt, it works in the fuzzy Silk Mohair – the mohair drags the silk along with it in the felting process.)
I needle felted on top of the wet felt to add some extra color, using Vanna’s Glamour and Bonbons for sparkle, along with LB Collection Silk. I incorporated braids made of these yarns to add more color, and used a bit of silk fabric underneath as well for more dimension and colors. (The silk and acrylic won’t felt, which is why I used those fibers in the braids.)
In the process of wet felting, the fibers shift and sometimes you develop holes. So I worked up some circles in Bonbons to cover up these small holes in the felt.
How did you approach the process for this project?
Some of the process was a surprise for me, especially when I was putting it together. I wasn’t expecting the curves of the chair to be quite so hard to sew around.
I wrapped parts of the chair in paper (like wrapping a gift), and then cut the paper off the chair and used these paper pieces as a pattern. I wet felted yarn into large pieces of fabric, cut these to the size of the paper pattern pieces, and sewed them together. The felt is easy to sew together. And if you use the same yarn to sew it up that you use to make the felt, the stitches blend in nicely.
I started with the legs of the chair, which were quite easy since you can basically just wrap the felt around them. I worked my way up in stages. The curves of the chair were very hard to sew around!
Sometimes when I came up against an issue in the creation process, I would just wait it out. I needed to take a break and take a step back from the project. Waiting for new ideas and answers to come to me worked well! Every so often the answers simply presented themselves.
I was going to do so much more…instead of braids in the felt, I wanted to have big braids hanging off the back, and I was going to sculpt with fabric cement on the top and make waves. But the crisp even lines of the chair were so appealing, I decided “less is more”. Usually I believe “more is more”, but in this case, I let the project guide me. I like to say I don’t know what the project wants to be yet; I have to wait to let it tell me what it wants to be.
How long did you work on this project?
That’s such a hard question to answer. All told this was in process for over six months. If I were working on this full time from start to finish, perhaps it would take two weeks or less? But doing a project like this full time wouldn’t work, since inspiration doesn’t come to me that way – it comes in spurts instead.
Where did you work on this project?
I made the big sheets of felt at home in my kitchen. Then I worked here in the office with the chair.
What was your favorite part of the process?
When it was done! Also, earlier on in the process when I saw it start to come together – that was very fun and satisfying.
This kind of project is really fun to make – I like things that don’t have clearly defined rules. Freeform, no math, letting the project develop organically…I love that at any point in the process, I could have changed my mind and gone a different direction.
Did you learn any lessons working this project?
Not really…I’ve done a lot of work with felt. I knew I could do the project when David asked me to make it. And then I wondered how I would do it, and over time it all came together.
What’s on your needles now?
Lots of baby stuff – I just became a grandfather! I have a baby sweater on the needles, and the next project I’m going to make is a “dedication outfit” using 24/7 Cotton in white. I’m combining aspects of three different patterns for this one, including knitting a leaf lace pattern for the top, and crocheting pineapples around the bottom of the skirt.
We have a cobweb lace class – taught by Darrin! – coming up on Monday, October 30th from 12pm to 4pm. Come join the magical journey of felt making and watch ordinary animal fiber yarn melt into your very own cobweb lace shawl.