Monday, April 10, 2006
Felting and Embroidering a Kitty Cat Sweater
Wool is my most favorite fiber to work with. It stitches up so nicely - whether sewn, knit or embroidered. All you have to do is hit it with a bit of steam and everything miraculously evens itself out.
When I was in college way back when, I had an extraordinary art professor named Patricia Sparks at Oregon State University. She was one of the forerunners of the American felting craze - virtually establishing it as an art form. I took a class with her on it and it has always been part of my fascination with wool - an art I revisit every once and again.
When I was working on my latest book Colorful Stitchery, I incorporated felting by recycling inexpensive wool sweaters and blankets I purchased from the local thrift store. I really enjoy the hunt of the old wool - digging through racks of old clothes to try to discover sweaters with enough wool in them to felt and light enough in color so I can dye them. Julia has been along on some of these thrifting "expotitions" and I think may be catching the thrifting bug.
It was on an occassion in Brattleboro that I discovered a woman's size large lavender wool sweater. I thought I would chop it up into potholders but my daughter had other ideas. She wanted it! So finally, after several months of it sitting on the floor in my studio already nicely felted, I got inspired to actually decorate this little gem with a bit of embroidery. It took all of one evening. Here it is along with a close-up of the kitty embroidery.
For the embroidery, I used Paternayan Persian wool and split it into single plies to work the cat. I placed my original cat drawing about 2" down from the neckline and centered it. I used the directions in Colorful Stitchery for transferring the design.
To make the sweater, I cut the sleeves out of the sweater. Then I cut up the sideseams and the armseams. The only thing that remained whole was the neckline and shoulder seams. I measured one of Julia's nicely fitting sweaters and cut the excess sweater body fabric off of it (so it looked like a square) keeping the neckline in tact. I cut the sleeves to the proper length and width. With my sewing machine, I sewed the sleeves into the top of the sweater, then sewed the underarm and sideseams. This took all of less than an hour (although there was several months of procrastination involved - now why is that?)
She's happy and so am I -- this project idea has been weighing on my mind for several months. It is now her favorite sweater.