DHG contacted me a few months ago to ask if I’d be up for working with their Mulberry Silk Tops, which are now part of the new collection and come in a wide variety of wonderful colours. Having already had the pleasure of working with DHG in the past, I jumped at the chance of being able to work with them again and I’ve come up with a few specially-made projects. I hope this simple project (arm warmers) will entice you to try out this outstanding product too! With its bright colours, distinctive texture and its chameleonic nature, it’s perfect for all kinds of different projects.
Mulberry silk is the highest quality silk available and the unique thing about it, is how it is produced. Local farmers in China grow Mulberry trees and harvest the leaves for silkworms to feed on. The cocoons are then spun into raw silk fibers. The silkworms of the Bombyx Mori moth are only fed Mulberry leaves, making it one of the finest silks available in the world. It is pure white and made up of individual long fibers, so the Mulberry silk is more refined than other types of silk. As it is pure natural fiber, it soaks up dyes beautifully and when it’s combined with wool, it produces the most beautiful surface when nuno felting. The new range of the DHG colors allows you to produce the most luxurious, hand felted creations and very little wool is needed to have the most effective results, as the silk has a beautiful shiny surface.<>Arm warmers are fun to make. They make a great weekend activity, either with friends or family, who are maybe new to the art of felt making, with the aim of making something beautiful together. This is a very easy project to do and the results are very satisfying.
For arm wamers use the measurements and wool lay out as shown in diagram.
Draft 3 templates of 20 cm by 70 cm with a non-permanent marker, by drawing it on the template paper. You can use bubble wrap or the thin wrapping foam. Note: these are long arm warmers.
Divide the pattern in 2 sections. Upper hand part 15 cm.
Now prepare your work space, by covering the table first with bubble wrap (1) big enough for your two arm warmers. Cover the bubble wrap with a paint protection plastic. This is useful when flipping the project over.
Divide the silk pongee in two. Lay the one half on the plastic (2), add in with the resist. Crinkle it (this gives a very interesting effect!) and then cover it with Mulberry silk tops (3). You can use more colours to add interest to your design. When you've finished decorating, cover it with the pattern template (4).
Now repeat step 3, by covering the resist with Mulberry silk tops. This time the silk fibres (5) will be on top of the resist. Remember to mirror the layout if using more than one color.
Repeat these steps for the other arm warmer too. (6-7)
Cut around the resist pattern leaving 3-4 cm around the edges. Fold the seams around the sides leaving the top and bottom open. Now add the rest of of the silk (8) on top of the fibres wrapping around on the sides again, it may need crinkling it up again too.
Make sure the Mulberry silk fibers are straight before starting to pull out the extra fine merino wool, then carefully divide the wool in half (9), 40 gr for each warmer and then divide in half again (20 gr for the front and 20 gr for the back). Then divide it into small parts.
TIP: splitting the wool allows you to keep control of how much wool you are pulling out and it helps to lay the wool evenly, not too thick and not too much. Make sure you avoid putting too much wool on your piece. Too much wool will reduce the shrinkage and the arm warmers will be too strong to enjoy.
Lay out the wool very finely starting with the top area, lay on this area 15 cm vertically and the rest you lay the wool horizontally (10).
Now completely cover the piece with a shade net or a thin plastic (11). Press down to get rid of all the pockets of air. If not soapy enough rub a bar of soap over it. Check to make sure all the areas are well soaked (12). Now gently remove the shade net or thin plastic. Check the project for any moved wool and if necessary fill the open spaces with little tufts of wool.
It is now time to use the sander (13). Sand the piece for 10 seconds on each position. Do not sand the sides as you need to fold these parts of wool and fabric later to the back.
After you finished examining it thoroughly, cover it with a thin plastic sheet, such as a paint protection plastic. Then flip the project over with the help of the plastic to be placed underneath between the project and the anti-slip (14). Remove the plastic. The back will have the silk fabrics already which will now be on top.
Pull out the base wool from the underside and fold it over to this side on the silk which is already there. Lay a thin layer of extra fine merino wool repeating step 3 and 5.
Check the sides lines (seam lines) and flatten them by smoothing them with your hand and a little soap (15). Or cover your hands with the thin plastic to make sure you don’t disturb the wool. If you are happy with all the seam lines it is time to roll (16).
Using a pool noodle or a wooden roll, long enough for your project (17), start rolling the project.
TIP: do not roll it too tightly it may create wrinkles on your project.
Begin rolling by applying pressure onto the project for 5 minutes, unwrap the project and massage away all the wrinkles and fix whatever needs fixing. Rub the seam lines and shoulder seams.
At this stage, you can still repair anything (and also can add to your project elements you might have forgotten to add). Just remember to always use a sander to fix them down.
Reroll the project from the opposite side and roll for another 5 minutes (18). Open and smooth out the shoulder seams and side seams (19).
Then sprinkle hot water over it to keep your project warm (20). Move the pool noodle to the top part of the project and tightly roll it up again and repeat the steps. This time roll for 5 minutes, both the top and bottom.
Then open the top and the bottom of the arm warmers and remove the template (19). By now the project has shrunk by 25%.
Sprinkle some hot water (20) and then smooth out the wrinkles and all folds paying attention to the sides seams.
Start by spreading the arm warmers out and have a quick look (21-22-23). If you are happy with the pre-felt stage you can start with pouring hot water on the project and roll it in the anti-slip mat, this time without the swimming pool noodle.
Roll up to the count of 50 then open it up and spread it out to make sure the inside is not felted together). Now alternate the sides and roll from top to bottom, adding hot water whenever necessary. Keep checking that you don’t shrink it too much so I suggest to keep tape measure at hand to check the measurements.
Put the pool noodle inside the arm warmers and continue felting until they fit tightly on the noodle.
TIP: Once happy with the shrinkage you can rinse the project in a little vinegar water. Then put it back on the pool noodle, shape it by using steam. The steaming also gives them a professional look. Leave it to dry on the noodle. This way the shape will keep its size.
And here’s what they look like on.