Thursday, 30 April 2015

How to create a beautiful felted ombre effect.

Ombre felted bag
Knitted and felted ombre design bag

One of the loveliest current trends that is making an appearance almost everywhere at the moment is ombre. (pronounced ombray)

There is something I find very pleasing about ombre design. Whether it is a combination of muted, earthy tones or bright primary splashes of colour, it doesn't seem to matter to my eyes. My little brain appreciates them all.

It really is a trend that has permeated many different aspects of art and design and has inspired many people. There are now many thousands of search results for 'ombre hair', 'ombre cakes', 'ombre home decor' or 'ombre painting techniques'.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the definition of ombre as: A fabric woven, dyed or printed in colour tones graduating from light to dark, usually giving a striped effect. Also: such a design or effect.

I have been keen for a while now to take this idea and combine it with my love of knitting to come up with an ombre design of my own. There are many so-called ombre (or space-dyed) yarns out there that are dyed in sections and create a random striped pattern when knitted up, but this wasn't quite the effect I was looking to achieve.

So I began to explore the possibilities of creating my piece using felted knitting. Now I absolutely love felted knitting. I love the element of surprise in that you're never quite sure what you're going to get when you pull your lovingly created knitted piece out of the washing machine, and I adore the soft-focus fluffiness of the work once it is dry. I also have a bit of a thing about knitted bags, and so a felted market bag seemed like the obvious solution.

If you are going to felt your knitting make sure you use pure untreated wool, not the shrink-resist kind that is fabulous for everything else except when you intend to intentionally 'ruin' your work in a washing machine.

I knitted the bag using two strands of yarn together. In this way I was able to change just one strand at a time to the next colour which created graduated bands up the length of the work. This is the ugly duckling before washing, just to give you some idea of how much it shrank.

knitted bag before felting

I then put it through a full 40 degree washing cycle together with a pair of jeans to rough it up a bit...and Ta dah! Good work washing machine. 

bag after felting

I was so pleased with the colour choices of chocolate brown through grey to cream with a pop of pink in there to catch the eye, and it felted back to a very usable sized bag.

Is it just me or does the soft blend of scrummy colours make you think of slightly melted Neapolitan ice-cream? Mmmmm.

This post is my submission to the Deramores Craft Blog Competition 2015. 
Deramores is the UK's number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. 
Visit for more details.

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