Friday, June 10, 2011

Needle Felting Experiments - Ladder and Ribbon

This really quick sample, and I mean really quick (5 min) used ribbon yarn, sometimes known as knitting ribbon to create very realistic fence posts.  The background is simply three pieces of organza.  When the ribbon yarn first scrunched up like this, I was very disappointed, but as you see failures sometimes become successes.  Luckily the sample I first saw this with was brown and reminded me of wood after felting.

Each sample has been felted onto cotton and batting and includes a strand of un needlefeted yarn to the extreme right of each picture.
Quotes (in italics) on yarn definition are from wikipedia
Ladders and Ribbons
"Ribbon is a type of yarn that resembles a ribbon. It can be made from synthetic or natural fibers, such as silk or cotton. Some ribbon yarns are flat, while others are tubular in construction."
I have not included tubular ribbon yarn in this post as it tends to break needles.  It is best couched.

"Ladder resembles a ladder, with two flat threads representing the two sides of the ladder held together by a strip of material at the center that represents the rungs. The material at the center of ladder yarn can be metallic, beaded, or otherwise adorned. This type of yarn is more often used to create trim or embellishments than to knit or crochet entire garments."
 This first sample is quite clearly a ladder.Very fine tightly woven yarn forms the length of the ladder and the rungs are the same yarn, but only loosely woven.  As you can see, it loses it's width, distorting markedly, but creates a nice soft line of coloured dots on the back, so the loose fibres felt well.
 It is very hard to see in the photo, but this is actually a ladder, with a second yarn threaded through and looped.  The looped fibre is very loosely twisted and felts well.  It creates colour on the back and the loops can be used well in floral pieces of work, by either cutting the pieces between out, or embellishing with foliage yarns between.
 This yarn is like a double ladder, with a slub or roving type yarn alternating in the rungs either side.  As with all the ladder yarns I have looked at, it distorts and narrows, but the slub rungs felt extremely well, with good transfer of colour to the back, and on the front, if the slub blends with the background, it adds some narrow sketchy lines, which could be very useful in certain compositions.
 This is the first of the ribbon samples.  It is a narrow braided ribbon, about 5mm or 1/4 in in width. Looking at the original sample on the right, you can see in the stretched part that the fibres are aligned in diagonals from both sides.  The fibres are satiny prior to felting, but as can be seen, they become very fuzzy.  Like all ladders, ribbon yarns also narrow and distort, as you can see in the sample above.  This particular sample could be easily used for branches or stems, or even a line of sand in the distance.
 This is a similar ribbon to the one used in the fence picture above.  This one is more red than brown, but you can see the effect, still.  It is a wide satin ribbon more than 1cm wide and appears to be more of a woven, construction than the narrow ribbon above. It is actually constructed of six very narrow ladders with rungs that are extremely close together.  When this is needlefelted, it narrows by at least half its width and becomes a raised textured band.  Transfer to the back is very easy, but the texture it creates on the front is more interesting.
This last sample is also a knitting ribbon (Unfortunately white - sorry) but it is a nylon one, knitted or interlocked.  It distorts, narrowing by half,but also tends to shrink lengthwise unless the foundation is reasonably strong.  You can see this above, where the bottom sample (cotton) is quite puckered, whilst the top one(batting) is not.  Nylon ribbon used to be quite common and I remember my gran using it.  I use it to crochet really great pot scrubbers.  Now, I have found another use for it, since it felts down well.

So, a few points with ladders and ribbons
  1. They will shrink/distort in width to half or less of their original width
  2. They generally felt well with the embellisher
  3. Sometimes the shrinkage creates great texture
I have not included actual ribbons in this blog as I will consider them in a later set of posts using different fabrics.

Happy embellishing


  1. The ribbon yarn turned out to be a great choice for your fence sample.
    Nice going. Thanks for the detailed explanations of your felting experiences.

  2. I love the looks you are getting with the different yarns. I've not tried needle felting - did you do these samples by hand or with a felting (embellishing?) machine? I can see a new use for the collection of yarns I've been hording or maybe I should just say "acquiring".


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