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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Felt a "Pelt"

Hurray!  It worked. ")

I have been wanting to try felting a whole raw fleece for some time.  Wet felting however is very physically demanding, what with the rolling, and rolling, and rolling.  Since my back is not happy with leaning and rolling for hours on end, I've been looking for an alternate method. 

I know from hours of trolling fibery websites and groups on the interwebs that fiber artists have had success with some wet felting in the dryer.  I even found a reference to felting a fleece in the washing machine, but no directions.  I decided, what the heck, might as well give it a whirl, so to speak.

I started with a cotted (that means somewhat stuck together) shetland hogget fleece.  I layed it out on a sheet with the cut side up.  Then I started to lay a THIN layer of merino roving on top. 

Next I layed a second thin layer of merino roving at a 90 degree angle to the first.




After that I folded the sheet carefully over the whole thing, starting with the long sides, then folding in the ends.  I was VERY careful to make sure that all the wool was encased in the sheet and not touching itself or sticking out.  Finally I rolled it tightly on itself from one end, and tied it with several ties, also tightly.


The whole thing got stuffed into my front loading washing machine.  I set it on permanent press, hot wash, cold rinse and put in a bit of Eucalan.  Finally, I fired up that washer!  (Then I sat in front of it and watched the wooly package flop around.  Yes, really.)

After one cycle, I pulled it out, unrolled it, placed it on a clean sheet, folded and rerolled the sheet from the side, and put it back in for a second wash. When I took it out and unrolled it, this is what I saw:


   It shrank ALOT, but it held together and it is very well felted.  Drawbacks: 1.  The washer wouldn't spin, so I had to throw dry towels in to soak up the dirty water.  2. It's kinda stinky.

I'm really happy with the result.  It would make a wonderful matt, small rug, or whatnot. 

Tada:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spin-curious?

Recently my fiber adventures have taken a dramatic and exciting turn.  I've done what I said I would never do and purchased a spinning wheel.  I did quite a bit of research, and decided on the Ashford Kiwi, based on numerous positive reviews and the attractive price point.

Here's my Kiwi when I brought it home from Webs:

Now, the Kiwi is completely lovely all on it's own, naked, as it were, but I discovered that people like to personalise their wheels with all sorts of lovely colors and finishes.  (Check out the thread on ravelry here: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/kiwi-spinners/582663/651-675#667 )  I decided to staint the wheel itself a lovely cherry color and paint in the Kiwi bird on the treadle with the same color.  I sealed the wheel with polyurathane, then I waxed the whole shebang with Ashford teak wax. (Which smells delicious by the way.)

Isn't she pretty?  What's most amazing is I've taught myself to spin on her!  Thought it might be fun to do a little video for the curious.  Apologies in advance for the shakiness.  It was a family affair and my little one was the videographer.    Enjoy!


Just in case you were worried that this means no more felting, never fear! One hobby is never enough. I recently finished this little lion,

and am hard at work on a unicorn.  Happy days to all!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gone Batty!

My latest personal project is the wet felting of some chair pads, or a runner for my dresser, haven't exactly decided yet.  To complete this project I will need lots, and lots, of wool.  Sooooooo, I dug through my stash and pulled out my washed Navajo Churro fleece, which looked like this before washing.   
I spent about two weeks picking the washed locks apart by hand and taking out any large clumps of kemp (rough hairy fibers found in primitive breeds).  Once I had a bunch of fluffy wuffy wooly, I carded it on my drum carder.

I carded, and carded, and carded some more.  In fact, having never carded an entire (pretty much - saved a few pieces for needle felting a cute long haired doggie) fleece before I was amazed at the volume of batts I could make!  Here's a vid of the carder in action. 


The best results are had by adding a small amount of fleece at a time. Once carded the batts are carefully removed. All told, I carded 15 huge batts! They made a Navajo Churro mountain, and when I laid them out on my 8 foot work table they carpeted it two layers deep. ")

See? 

Maybe I will be able to make my chair pads and a runner after all.  Oooooohhhh, all the buttery goodness!  But first, a lion.  ROAR!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fun with fiber!

Long time no post.  Life keeps getting in the way of my hobbies.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.  This weekend has been a fun fibery one!  A new spindle arrived, that I'm planning to use to spin some lovely lama down, you can see them here .  It's called the colt, so being horse related, I figured it was for me. 

In addition, my family and I enjoyed some Easter egg dying.  In the spirit of frugality, we used the extra dye to paint up some wool.  I layed it out in waves in an old pyrex baking dish.  My kids took turns squirting it with the leftover dye.  It looked like this when all the dye was used up:

Next, I popped it in the oven and baked it at 200 degrees for about 2 hours.  I've seen this referred to on Facebook as a spinner's dinner.  I wouldn't recommend consumption, but it sure looked yummy!

After dyeing, rinsing, and drying, I braided it up and it looks SWEET!

The colors are somewhat muted but truly lovely.  I think this will make a fantastic yarn.  I'm going to crochet it up into an Easter bunny before next year.

In addition, today I paid a visit to a local alpaca farm.  I came away with fleece, of course.  I'm not really sure where I'm going to put it while I work through my stash, but it is soooo soft I want to lay down on it and go to sleep.  First batch is washing as I speak! 

I hope you have a terrific Easter or Passover as your beliefs dictate, or a terrific day if your beliefs dictate neither!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Gorilla Glue, I love you!

So, my most recent triumph involves a spindle, some water, and my old friend Gorilla Glue.  I don't know who invented this stuff, but I really believe it should be the eighth wonder of the world.  I've fixed leaky rubber gloves, too many toys to count, door handles and now my spindle, all with the glue of the Gorilla. 

This past weekend I made a point to do all my schoolwork on Friday so I would have all of Saturday morning free for felting and spinning.  Well, after working on my latest little lime green feltie, I decided some spinning was in order.  I've been working away at spinning some Jacob and as I was going to be away from home on Saturday, I'd packed my spindle and tons of fiber.  Alas, when I pulled out the spindle I noticed the tip where the hook screws in was beginning to split.  I was a bit discouraged, but having a rubber band in my purse I managed to McGyver it into shape well enough to do some spinning.  I knew however, that a more permanent fix would have to be found.  Enter the Gorilla!  When I got home, I carefully wet the areas and applied the tiniest amount of glue you can imagine.  I've learned this stuff is seriously expandable and to be conservative.  I set the spindle aside for the requisite 2 hours and hoped for the best.  Wala! The miracle of modern science worked and my spindle is back in business.  Good as new and spins like a dream. 

This wasn't my only fiber adventure of the weekend. I also dyed some roving using Wilton's Icing dye, in pretty blues and teals.  The plan is to spin this fiber and ply it with some burgandy, green, and blue that is already spun.  Here it is:
I've also been busily washing small batches of lovely Merino cross wool I aquired in a trade.
Here it is drying on mesh clipped to a laundry basket.  I'm itching to comb and spin this and make something delicious.
Also, last but not least, this little creature is coming to life:
Who is he, you may ask?  Only time will tell!  Happy week!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Momma's got new toys!

Boys aren't the only ones who like toys!  Fiber addicts like me enjoy them as well.  I've been saving and saving my pennies and yesterday my wonderful new piece of equipment arrived on my doorstep in a giant box.  I purchased a Brother drumcarder!   Now, non-fiber addicts will be asking the all important question, "What is a drumcarder, and what on earth does it do?"  A drumcarder is a lovely contraption composed of two wheels, a drive band, hand crank, and wire brush that is similar to a  doggy bush.  This fabulous invention takes clean wooly fleece and brushes it so that it is all lined up in the same direction in a fluffy batt that can be used for spinning, felting, or quilting.  I'm going to spin my test batt, but my ultimate plan is to use the batts for wet felting things like table runners.  Take a look at my baby:

This is my first pass of Jacob wool from a fleece I purchased raw and washed myself.  This fleece had a big variation in length and fiber type and this collection of fleece is the mixed colors I was left with after seperating the fleece by color and type.  It contains long and short fibers, as well as some kemp (stiff hairy fibers) and second cuts.  This is all okay with me because I am spinning this into a rough bulky to use for a crocheted basket.  :)

Here is the finished batt after three passes.  I have been combing and spinning this fiber, so I'll be interested in seeing the difference in spinning from a batt.

This carding adventure was by no means my only fiber play this weekend!  I finished a pair of fingerless gloves using overdyed merino sock yarn (on the left).

I also tea dyed my first substantially sized handspun skein of yarn.  This is commercially prepared domestic roving from R.H. Lindsay Co. in Boston.  Spun on a spindle and two-plied on a spindle:
I
I brewed some very dark tea,
added vinegar and couple of nails containing iron and left the wool in for hours and hours and hours. 
This is the finished yarn.  I'm fairly happy with the golden brown color and am planning to make a pair of fingerless gloves.  I'm really loving those.

So, all in all, a very productive fibery weekend was had by me!  And, before all this I finished my latest needle felted creation, which is looking for a happy home:
Have a great week and may you find time for your passions!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Um, busy?

Busy, busy, busy.  Isn't that from a kid's movie?  Well, here I sit with a spinning head, and not much else currently spinning!  Things have been characteristically crazy here at Felt Well.  I guess that's par for the course for a full time working mom with a seriously huge amount of hobbies and a (small) business.

Happening recently, crochet, horseback riding (Yeah!), correcting, household item sorting and culling, more horse stuff (Yeah!), needle felting, spinning, and craft class prep.  I recently also sold my needle felted sun, which made me very happy.  Hopefully the person receiving it as a gift will be equally happy.

So, here is a pic of a recently commissioned sea turtle:


Once this little guy had swum off to his new home I started on a pretty little dragon whelp which is still in the works,  and I've been slowing spinning up some yarn:

which will eventually turn into something resembling this first skein:
though hopefully with a bit more yardage.

So, I hope you are happily busy, or not, according to your choice, in your life as well!  Time to get on to the next thing...


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My first Felt Well Workshop!

So, pretty much ever since I started needle felting I've been wanting to share this very cool craft with others.  Whenever I make a new creation I'm amazed all over again at what the wool can be persuaded to do with a little bit of poking. ")    So, I'm taking the plunge and holding my first workshop.  HURRAY!  Now I'll probably be both excited and nervous to see how it goes.  All the information is below:

Learn Needle Felting with
Amy Brown of
Felt Well Woolies
Make your own Suffolk sheep!

Learn basic needle felting techniques that you can use on any project: rolling basic shapes, connecting shapes, making eyes, and creating texture!
Materials included: foam pad, 3 felting needles, rolling stick, all wool needed for your sheep, and yours to keep.
When: Sat., February 25th, 2012

9am to 3pm

Where: The First Church in Ludlow, 859 Center St. Ludlow, MA 01056

Cost: $40.00 and please bring a lunch and drink.
Who: Limited to ten participants.

Email: feltwellwoolies@verizon.net to register

Friday, January 13, 2012

Can't talk, but I can still poke!

I've had laryngitis for nine days.  NINE days.  I didn't even know it was possible to have laryngitis that long.  Apparently mother nature has a wicked sense of humor.  My nickname in sixth grade, given to me by my beloved and very strict teacher, was Motormouth.  Seriously, the inability to speak for nine days has been quite a challenge. The jokes have been a challenge too.  You can imagine, I'm sure.  If I had a nickel for every time I've heard, "Your husband must like this, hehehehehe", I could buy a coffee at least.  Couple that with the fact that my day job is teaching, and you get a very frustrated old lady. 

Thankfully, wool has come to the rescue.  Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself, and eating ice cream, (finger's crossed), I've been working on the last of last year's Christmas presents.  My best long-time friend had a hankering for a loon.  She and her husband have bought a beautiful getaway property with loons aplenty.  This lovely girl will hopefully remind her of the peace of her place by the lake when she can't be there.



Only problem is, what do I do now?

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