Viscose roving – Advantages & Techniques

Advantages of using viscose in felting

viscose vegan fibre with wool

With many visual characteristics of silk tops, the lack of static makes felting with viscose easy. As a substitute and more economical than silk, viscose tops also add lustre and strength to felting projects. Making felt more elastic, its use enhances the drape of thin layouts. As well as additional comfort and softness,  using viscose tops / roving  reduces pilling.  Derived from regenerated wood-pulp,  it is  vegan & eco-friendly due to the closed cycle production process. 

Versatile viscose


Use clouds, strands or shingles for decorating and reinforcing when using viscose for felting. Use a little or a lot (up to 70%!) for different effects, especially on pre-felts. Mix different colours together in your hands or with hand carders to achieve a wide range of colour variations. For greater effect, use viscose colours that contrast with the wool. Make viscose sheets using soap, starch solution or wall paper paste when making faux ‘silk‘ paper for felting. Torn or cut pieces or whole sheets can be added to wool or pre-felt layouts. Using the textile medium or PVA glue method will give a firmer result more suited to embellishing other textiles and making bags or vessels. Anything you can do with silk roving, you can do with viscose roving with no static and at a fraction of the cost!

viscose prefelts

Being cellulose, use fibre reactive dye to dye white viscose tops or overdye light colours.

Viscose fibre is a wonderful fibre to incorporate into:

  • Felting – wet felting, nuno felting, needle felting
  • Spinning – incorporate with other fibres, create art batts
  • Hand weaving – use alone, in combination with wool roving, or as an accent in macramé wall hangings.
  • Paper making – added to other fibres or used alone to make fibre sheets
  • Doll making – for wigging and making curls
  • Mixed media and textile art surface design; layering, couching

Viscose Roving – Creative felting techniques

make silk paper with viscose

Stunning effects can be achieved with  viscose roving:

  • Marbled & Impressionist effects
  • Openwork and Windows
  • Viscose paper applique
  • Graphic images
  • Faux fur
  • Blending viscose

With explanatory subtitles, these techniques are beautifully illustrated below in videos by Katerina Korshun, a textile artist from Prague.


Felting with viscose fibres

FeltWEST February 2019 meeting

Mini-workshop – Fibre Finesse for Felt

Today Sara Quail kindly demonstrated the use of plant fibres for embellishing felt to create texture, subtle bling, sheen and colour variation. Adding non-wool fibre also reduces pilling and increases the structural integrity, allowing for extremely thin layouts.

Silk waste, silk spaghetti, soy silk, mulberry silk, tussah silk, viscose and ramie are some examples. Viscose is much finer and ramie (made from plants of the nettle family) is coarse. Fibres that are coarser than your wool will sit on the surface, whereas fibres of the same or finer thickness will combine with the wool.


viscose for felting - roving fibreToday we concentrated on viscose as it is one of the cheaper fibres but the same process works with other plant fibres. To make fibre paper, lay out fibres in both directions over a piece of plastic. Place netting over the fibre, wet down and rub soap bar (don’t use liquid soap) all over to create a good amount of foam. Gently peel off the netting and put the fibre on the plastic in the sun to dry. You may need to use small weights to prevent it blowing around. Once dry, the fibre paper is rigid enough to cut into pieces for decoration or can be folded and shaped.

laying out viscose to make fibre sheet


trapping silk carrier rods with minimal woolsilk paper using viscose

Colour variations can be achieved by chopping up the length of fibre into chunks and dropping onto the plastic. The fibre tops can also be pulled into fluffy clouds or different coloured fibres can be blended.

viscose prefelts


Fibre paper pieces or fibre (as lengths or clouds) can be placed onto laid out wool tops or wool prefelt and they will attach during the normal felting process. Fibre/wool prefelt can be cut into shapes and placed onto wool tops, Margilan silk or cotton gauze before continuing felting.


experimenting with prefelts and viscose

Another method is to lay out a tangle of wool pre-yarn, then place plant fibre on top, ensuring that all the plant fibre is in contact with wool. Pre-yarn can be added to the other side if desired. Very light, soft fabric with a cob-web effect can be achieved by laying out a very thin layer of wool, then covering with plant fibre.

lots of viscose, minimal wool

cobweb viscose and wool


viscose prefelts on margilan silk

mosaic nuno viscose and wool prefelt on margilan silk









Wraps – doodling with nuno-felt

With various opportunities to sell and donate felted wraps and scarves this year, I had a go at techniques I have not tried before. Having dyed around 60 metres of Margilan silk gauze a while back, I had plenty to work with!

Doodle nuno felt wrap
Doodle nuno wrap
Doodle wraps?

Scribbling with wool over Margilan silk gauze creates a very lightweight nuno felt, which is most suitable for our mild winters and occasional cool evenings in summer. With wool laid on one side of aound 3 metres of silk gauze, each side has a different look.  The seemingly random  placement seems to fit well with the equally random patterning of the dyed silk.

Using a double layer of silk gauze for the frills and covering one side completely with extra fine merino wool roving produces a more substantial wrap. The green one has a frill each side, which is a bit much for my taste. The red one had the frill on one side only, which enables a different look when worn.

Deconstructed nuno felt

The white scarf is made along the lines of my doubly deconstructed nuno wrap  .  The main difference is the silk gauze which I used on both sides giving it an overall sheen.

The asymmetrical blue wrap was made deconstructing a soy fibre and superfine merino prefelt  and applying it to cotton gauze. It produces  a noticeably heavier fabric than silk gauze. Originally white, it was dyed twice – first in an acid dye for the protein fibres, and then in fibre reactive dye for the cotton component.  Using slightly different shades of blue, seems to give in an interesting depth.

A wrap made in a workshop was finally finished properly!

I learn something new  about wool fibres, layouts, shrinkage rates and edges with every wrap or scarf. Fortunately almost all sold at the Feltwest popup shop a few weeks ago or I would be buried in nuno felt!

nuno felt wraps
Wraps for sale – popup shop

Felting Silk Carrier Rods – more ideas

While writing an article for FELT magazine about how silk carrier rods can be incorporated into felt making, I was inspired to try a few more things. In my previous post  I showed how layers, wispy bits and the full carrier rod could be used in a variety of ways.

Thin layers of carrier rod become even more versatile when combined with wool to make pre-felt. They are laid adjacent to one another on  a  base of wool fibre and felted to form a firm pre-felt. Once the layers of carrier rod are well and truly integrated, it is best to let it dry. The surface is slightly rigid which allows  cutting of  complex shapes and  more control over design elements as a result. Click on photos to see more detail.

The cut pre-felt shapes or pieces can then be felted into a project in the normal way. Why dry, these  additions provide more texture and rigidity than using standard pre-felt. With gauze – cotton or silk –  placed under the pre-felt shapes on top of a wool base, the added elements  become more defined, creating a halo at the edges.


While I was at it, I put tea lights in my little vessels.  There are some distinct possibilities here for lampshades or tea light holders. Light / natural  wool works best. Adding the carrier rod pre-felt has great potential for adding texture and creating defined areas.

Silk carrier rods defy the adage that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Turning something that is not particularly attractive in its raw state, to an appealing and interesting  embellishment is rather satisfying.Felting with silk carrier rods








The article appears in FELT issue #18 – Dec 2017 published by Artwear Publications, with 3 pages of photos and details about how to use Silk Carrier Rods. See more on Facebook Follow  Felt magazine on facebook for more info about the  great articles and projects for feltmakers.

Felt folding at Fibres West 2017

Felt Folding with Andrea Noeske-Porada

FIBRES WEST 2017 is a residential program over five days and 6 nights at Muresk in Northam. Reputedly the coldest place in winter in Western Australia. Not that we noticed too much as we quickly became engrossed in learning felt folding origami type techniques with Andrea Noeske-Porada.  A truly unique felting workshop experience with a dozen equally enthusiastic participants. Andrea’s technique of taking felt to another dimensional level requires some intense attention to detail. My cutting board is yet to recover as there was a lot of very precise cutting. As a result, my pieces below may not seem much for 5 days effort, but it is a technique that requires some thought and patience.felt folding

In order to understand the basic technique, we had some paper folding practice  before embarking on complex projects. Making a Kaleidocycle is a fascinating exercise. Being a three-dimensional ring, it can continually turn inside out to reveal the different coloured facets. Making it is felt is therefore more challenging. One has to first convert wool fibre into a fabric, so it can be cut, reassembled and shrunk.

Most of all, it was a wonderful week of creativity with presentations by all the Fibres West tutors, as well as a trade hall, evening activities, installation artist and displays. Despite the wonderful distractions (including all meals), the results from my fellow participants speak for themselves. Click on images below to see larger images and the amazing variety of items.


Silk carrier rods for felters

What are silk carrier rods?

Despite looking like something from an archaeological dig (according to a friend at least!), carrier rods are pretty fascinating things. They are a by-product of the silk reeling process. Filaments of silk and silk dust catch and wind around the carrier or guide rods of the machinery for reeling the silk filaments from the cocoon. Due to the sericin in the silk, the residue builds up as a hard mass up to 15cm (6″) long. This is slit off the rod periodically to give the silk carrier rod it’s distinctive cylindrical shape.


Being silk, carrier rods dye well and have a slight sheen. Textile enthusiasts use them in many ways either whole, manipulated or split into thinner layers. One can spin, weave, cut and stitch them as well as making structural silk paper to embellish with paint, foil, print or embossing. They are a wonderful addition to a fibre artists ‘stash’ and can simply be layered to give texture and dimension as in Pik-a-poppy

Recently I was demonstrating to our local felting group about carrier rods partly because I use them in a felt exhibition piece Life Cycle.  So the challenge was on to explore creative ways to use them when making felt.

Preparing Carrier Rods for felting

Being a hard gummy fibre (ie full of sericin), the rods vary considerably in appearance and can even contain cocoon remnants. They need some warmth to be able to manipulate them. The easiest way to flatten them is to iron them dry – no steam. They can be felted whole using ‘trapping’ techniques or separated and stretched out into thin wispy layers to incorporate with wool fibres. Rolling the rods length-ways against the curve for a few minutes in your hands will also soften and reveal the layers. Soaking in some warm water for 1/2 hr or so works too. When stretching the layers, the criss-cross of the fibres is apparent and acts as a natural resist in the dyeing process with interesting colour variations.

Felting with thin layers and wispy bits

As long as you can see light through the pieces, fine mesh layers felt in really well. They are easy to curve, shape and weave and seem to felt in better if put into position on the wool, before wetting out.

Carding little fluffy bits with wool produces a lovely mottled effect. Slightly thicker layers of the rod will also work with persistence and provide more texture in areas where it is thicker. Click to view larger images.

Trapping full rod thickness in felt

Using thicker layers or the full thickness of the carrier rod results in greater textural effect. As the silk is too dense for the wool to grab onto, trapping is a solution. Silk hankies and various fibres like silk and viscose work well. Despite the felting and fulling process, most of the texture and dimension of the rod pieces are retained.

Fine veiling with wool doesn’t work too well as too many edges of the rod pieces remain exposed. Using more wool to  trap the rods or pieces more effectively makes them almost invisible! Stitching them in place at the pre-felt stage with a wool yarn works.

Felting with silk paper made from carrier rods

Silk paper can be solid or sparse depending on the thickness and quantity of the layers.  After separating the layers, place them on a silicon sheet or baking parchment and spay lightly with water. Cover with baking parchment and iron. The moisture and heat activates the sericin and ‘glues’ the pieces together. Do not iron directly on the wet carrier rods unless you like to scrape things off the bottom of your iron. Keep ironing until almost dry and they are sticking together. Allow the paper to cool and harden up a bit before handling.

Cut or torn pieces can be trapped under net or gauze or used in ‘craters’. Maximum dimension and crinkling results, as there is almost no attachment of the silk paper to the wool fibres.

Deconstructed nuno wrap – in print!

Sari Nuno Wrap – Doubly Deconstructed
deconstructed nuno wrap
Finished wrap

It was the highlight of the week to see my project in print in the June 2017 issue of ‘Felt’. While the title is a bit of a mouthful, it is an accurate description. A little different to more traditional nuno felt projects, this one also includes wool ‘cheese’ (pre-yarn) and sari silk ribbons.

To keep the wrap as light as possible I use Uzbek silk gauze and 18.5 micron merino wool. I did have fun with this one, as I like working with a combination of unusual materials in textiles. I think my felt making is heading that way too!

Initially, I wasn’t sure how this project would turn out, but was curious to see what textures would result from using the contrasting materials. Stripes or checks? As it turns out, chopping up and rearranging the sari ribbon pre-felt creates both effects.

sara quail deconstructed nuno wrap
Deconstructed nuno wrap

Although all the elements were  off-white / ivory, there are interesting colour and pattern variations, depending in what light it is viewed. While ironing the end result gives the wrap a subtle sheen, I also like the exaggerated ‘pebbly’ nuno effect that is created after fulling.

The gallery below gives an indication of the process – click to enlarge photos.

Deconstructed nuno wrap in Felt Magazine

As a result of this experiment, I was asked to submit an article for ‘Felt’ by the editor Martien van Zuilen.  4 pages of comprehensive instructions for making this deconstructed nuno wrap appears in ‘Felt’ – issue #17.  It is pretty special to appear in such a high quality magazine alongside some great felting names which include local and international makers. The magazine contains felt-related articles as well as a variety of projects and lots of visual inspiration.

3D felt -Dimensional felting course with Pam de Groot

An online course in textures and dimension – 3D felt objects
splash felt
The splash

I have just completed the ‘Textures and Dimension’ online workshop with Pam de Groot. What a great course! Although not for beginners, for anyone who loves 3D felt techniques, this is the one. I had given up waiting for Pam to come to this side of the country anytime soon. So it was wonderful to be able to do this workshop in my own time over 6 weeks. Continue reading “3D felt -Dimensional felting course with Pam de Groot”

Felt Jewellery and small scale sculpture

Felt Adorned –  A felt jewellery workshop with Martien van Zuilen

I spent a very pleasant and creative weekend discovering the possibilities of creating felt jewellery and mini sculptural shapes. Martien van Zuilen’s ‘Sculpture and Jewellery on a Precious Scale’ workshop is full of  ideas and techniques to make jewellery or components to add to other felting projects. Continue reading “Felt Jewellery and small scale sculpture”

Felt hats – Dawn Edwards Geelong Fibre Forum 2016

Geelong Fibre Forum
Geelong Grammar Campus, Corio

I had the opportunity in October 2016 to make felt hats  with Dawn Edwards from the USA. She was a tutor at the Geelong Fibre Forum in Victoria (Australia). Every year Tafta Inc presents a week-long retreat with some amazing tutors.  Participants  come and create for a whole week, with nothing to do but enjoy the learning experience. Continue reading “Felt hats – Dawn Edwards Geelong Fibre Forum 2016”