Friday, December 30, 2011

New Project, New Year

Well, it's that time again.  Out with the old, and in with the new.  I've been reading lots of posts on Facebook and other sites to which I belong, talking about the year past.  This has put me in the frame of mind to do my own annual reckoning.  However, when I try to think back on the year my head just feels fuzzy.  I'm so busy I can barely remember what I was doing last week never mind last January!  OY! As I look back, I'll leave out the children's milestones, the many adventures upon horseback, back pain, doggy exploits, vacations, work, and the loss of dear ones.  To remain sane, and avoid reader boredom, I'll concentrate on my current passion for felting.

One year ago, I hadn't given felting any thought.  I'd heard of wet felting, but gave it no notice.  I certainly had never heard of needle felting, and if someone had told me I'd have started a small business and be washing poopy fleece by hand in 2011, I'd have told them to get some better medication.  All that has come to pass however, and I find my most relaxing moments now, aside from riding my horse, to be those when I am creating something from wool.  It's quite soothing and satisfying.  Today, just in time for the new year, I tried some wet felting.  I'm planning some Nuno felting in 2012, but thought it might not be a bad idea to give traditional and somewhat simpler wet felting a go first.  I used some wonderful icelandic lambswool that I washed and carded by hand, enhanced with some very fine lama down procured at the New Engand Fiber Festival.

So, here we go!

Here you see 5 layers of icelandic wool decorated with the soft brown lama down.

The off side, showing the lama fibers beginning to migrate to the back.  Almost time to roll.

Nice little package to be rolled, and rolled, and rolled.  You get the idea.

After rinsing thoroughly, the piece is soaked in vinegar and water for 15 minutes, then rinsed again.

The final product after steaming now needs to dry flat. 

All in all, I am fairly satisfied with the end result.  There are a few thinner spots, particularly around the edges, but I believe I will be able to make a passable pillow out of it. Hurray!  I have many exciting projects to look forward to in 2012.  Happy New Year, and happy crafting!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wildness in Woolydom

     Ever feel like if you have to remember to do one more thing your head will just EXPLODE?  Well, that's right about where I am now.  It would be a happy explosion, sort of like celebratory fireworks, but my smarts would still be spewed around the room.  Seriously, I LOVE the holidays, particularly now that I have children, but I'm so afraid I won't get everything done on time.  Rational me says, "Now, now, take a deep breath. You've managed to get it all done before.  Perhaps some meditation would help?"
     Wild 'n Wooly me screams back, "ARE YOU INSANE?????  I have to felt 20 more soaps, wrap EVERYTHING, bake two pies, do last minute grocery shopping, finish a photo album, felt a pup, felt a loon, work all week, host Christmas Eve (only 6 people, but I'm on a roll), do the laundry, and SLEEP, I do not have time for meditation!"
     Ahhhh, the joys of the season. BRING ON THE EGGNOG.  And, add a little something please.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From This to That

Have you ever wondered what happens to the wool once it's off the sheep?  I know I did.  Well, wonder no more, because the mystery is about to be solved!  See this luscious, scrumptious, soft, but dirty fleece above?  I'm about to turn it into fluff!  First step, as I discovered much to my chagrin, is to pull of all the really poopy bits.  Yeah, you read that right.  Luckily, I am well acquainted with poop, having been the momma to dogs, hamsters, fish, cats, horses, and two human children.  A little dried up lamby poop ain't nothin' after that.  Once the really dirty bits are gone, I put the fleece into some small sweater bags.  Fill the tub with super hot water, including some boiling from the stove, a cup of Dawn dish detergent and soak. 

Once the wool has been soaked and rinsed, soaked and rinsed, soaked and rinsed, until your back is achin' and your arms are ready to fall off, put in on a rack to dry.  I used a piece of netting stretched and clamped onto some large empty plastic storage containers.
It takes a mighty long time for wool to dry.  Much longer than I thought.  During those days the wool must be checked and turned daily.  Once the wool is dry, I store it in an old pillowcase so it can breathe.  Yes, I know it's not technically alive, but it still must have access to the air!
Next step is carding.  I bought myself some wonderful hand cards for my birthday, and it's a good sitting down workout to take the washed wool and comb it into oh so soft fluffy mini batts.

Wala!  But alas, we are not done yet.  Many such mini batts must be carded.

Once I've carded enough to fill a scrapbooking box, (apparently JoAnn's does not sell "icelandic lambswool mini-batts" boxes) I then needle felt a rectangular flat bit, which is decorated with some of this incredibly soft merino roving that I picked up from New England Felting Supply.

Now we are finally getting to the "that" part.  I take the loosely needled and decorated wool fabric and wrap it tightly around a lovely, sweet smelling bar of natural soap.  To this I add some very hot water and a lot of elbow grease to magically transform the raw icelandic lambswool into:
Wooly Soap!!!!!  Hurray! 
A luxurious bar of soft lambswool wrapped soap.  The wool will continue to shrink as the soap is used up, all the while providing a soft natural exfoliation that cannot be found with a cotton terrycloth washcloth.  That's it this week from Woolydom!  Have a wonderful 7 days.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Big Bird's little bear plays!

He's done!  Big Bird's downy coat proved to be just the thing for this little guy.  I'd love to make a million little creatures from Big Bird's down.  It's sooooooo soft that I could touch it for hours.  It's a very comforting feeling.  I  really enjoyed making this bear.  He seems to have a happy dispostion and I think we all could use a little more happiness in our lives, right?

Once he was done I pondered him for a while.  Sure, he was soft as all get out, and he was cute as a button.  Something was missing though, and it took me a few days to figure it out.  He wanted to play in the snow.  Once I made him a snowbank he was happy as a clam.  His only other request?  Why, he needed a scarf of course.  I wet felted him a little holiday scarf and he was all set.  As I type, he's getting a good cold back scratch!

That's the latest from Woolydom.  Have a great week!Holiday Teddy Bear on Etsy

Friday, November 25, 2011

Big Bird becomes a bear.

So, the moment of truth has arrived.  One project has been finished, and another must begin.  This is always a curious moment.  The list of possible projects is ENDLESS, but time is finite.  Sooooo, do I make a gift?  Do I make a sale item?  Do I make something just because I want to with no intention attached to it whatsoever?  No, I do none of these things, instead I pick a wool a want to work with and let it tell me what it wants to be.  (I do not actually hear voices; I speak figuratively.) 
The next project will be a cuddly teddy bear, made from the down of a lama named Big Bird. I have never met Big Bird, but I met his human momma and poppa, and I've spent a pretty good amount of time fondling his down, so I feel we are acquianted.  I like to think that Big Bird would be happy to have a bit of himself morph into something sweet.   Let the poking commence!