Lots More Wool! (and a Felt "Painting")

Woo-hoo! I'm so excited. I got THREE boxes of processed wool back from Zeilinger Wool Company in Frankenmuth, Michigan. I got 6 pounds of Musket (almost a Champagne color) combed top, 9.5 pounds of white combed top (Shetland and Shetland/BFL cross fiber - very nice!), 3 pounds of dark moorit Shetland roving, and two queen size comforter batts.

Above you can see how the combed top comes, nicely coiled and stacked. It took me a while to ball it all up last night, below you can see the results.

I shipped the combed top order out on Sept. 18 and the roving/batt order on October 3rd. I'd say they came through in amazing time. And I can't say enough good things about the quality of the work they did. I don't coat my sheep and I do feed hay year round. So my fleeces have VM, that's why I prefer combed top. The combing process removes all the noils, neps, and VM. IMO, it's worth the extra cost to have a product I can be proud to sell.

That said, they did a terrific job on the dark moorit roving and the quilt batts too. I can't believe how clean they came back. Now I just have to figure out my prices and start selling these fabulous fibers. The quilt batts were from the britch wool, so only the softest fibers went into the roving and the top. I haven't spun any of it up yet, but I'm sure they will all be soft enough for scarves and next to the skin wear.

This is a photo of my latest wool painting - it was not quite finished in this photo - I took out some of the water and I attempted to sign it in wool - that was not easy! I'm sorry the wool paintings don't photograph well at all. In real life they look like pastel paintings when matted and framed and the colors aren't as harsh. But I wanted to give you an idea of what I'm doing. This piece is only about 9 x 12" after all the felting and fulling. It was done from my imagination and past experience. I used primarily hand-dyed Shetland wool from Bramble Hetty. It was a combination of needle and wet felting. I feel like I'm ready to tackle a big one now - maybe some birch trees or a sheep portrait! :-)


  1. I was so pleased with my roving from Zeilinger's too. I took some to them at the end of September at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival and it is back already! One roving included dehairing Cashmere to blend with kid mohair and Shetland. SOOO soft and wonderful. I don't coat either and just had roving done and it came back very clean. I love your wool painting!!!

  2. Wow...you are such an inspiration to me. :-) I have been attempting a little felted 'painting' too, just thinking that it would be fun, but yours is gorgeous. I hope you don't mind questions! What do you use for backing? Do you stretch it once you are done? Do you use quite a bit of layering? I was bit confused on what to use on the backing. Yours is such a a wonderful piece of artwork. Would you mind showing a picture of your quilt batts too? I've never tried Zeilingers but they are who I had in mind for the batts. Thanks for the inspiring post.

  3. Thanks you guys. This must be a good time of year to send in wool for processing, I love getting it back so quickly.
    I don't mind questions at all Tammy. Have you read "Watercolor Felting" by Pat Spark? She has some good tips, but I mostly just go by trial and error.
    For this one I started with a leftover small quilt batt that I wet felted into a sheet of pre-felt about 30 x 40". I cut that into several smaller oatmeal colored "canvases". Using the smallest of those canvases, I needle-felted on the base colors, figuring out the composition so people could tell what it was. Then I wet-felted it again to integrate all the fibers and reduce it down to size. After that I brought the highlights back out and gave it texture again by needle felting on more dyed Shetland wool. It's 100% wool, but in the past I've used silk gauze as a base which results in a lighter weight piece. After I use up all my pre-felt canvases, I think I will apply the color right in the initial felting process.
    I mount these on matboard using straight pins along the top and bottom edges. I have some shadow box frames and plenty of mats on hand which makes framing very easy. Inside the frame there is the glass, the mat, a wooden spacer, and then the wool pinned on the matboard, the frame backing is the final layer. When done, I seal up the back with a paper tape to keep bugs out. There is a difference of opinion on whether or not to put felt artwork behind glass. I firmly believe that behind glass is best, it keeps the bugs and dust away from the work.
    Yes, I will take a photo of the quilt batts. My neighbor is coming over tonight to get hers and we'll unroll them then -- I'm not sure I'd be able to stuff it back in the bag without her help. I asked for two 3.5 pound batts, one is that size the other bag weighs 4.25 pounds, so I'm not sure if there's an extra smaller batt in there too.

  4. am wondering if the shetland top seems "hairy"? With our north american shetlands being "coarser" than UK shetlands, and more double coated, I've heard north american top can be "harsh" (or hairy) when made into top. (combing it into top removes the soft/fine undercoat). Am curious, because I too prefer top, but have been afraid to have it done with shetland. --stephen

  5. Hi Stephen, this is the second year I've done combed top with my Shetland wool. I skirt pretty heavily and only send the finer fibers so I haven't noticed it being hairy. I sort through all my washed wool before I send it in, pulling out any coarse fibers or britch wool and any hairy locks. Those go in the garbage or into the quilt batt bag.
    Last year I had black top done with 12% llama added. That was kind of hairy, but they were short hairs.
    I've been surprised at how little waste fiber there is with the combed top - they return it, I suppose you could use it for stuffing things. I was thinking there would be lots more waste than what I got back. The waste fiber is really short, useless stuff.
    I've only spun a few sample yarns so far with this year's top, but I'm happy as it seems to have less combing oil on it and it still has good elasticity to the fibers. Last year's top had to be washed well after spinning to remove all the oils and bring back the fluff.
    I still have two big bags of long silky moorit and black to be processed. I'm not sure if I should do that in roving or top. They sure managed to get a lot of VM out in the roving. And roving is about half the cost of top.

  6. SO lovely - both the fiber and the painting! I'm jealous of your combed top; right now I'm unable or unwilling to spring for the extra cost. But next weekend I hope to be getting back the rest of my roving, and I do expect to be quite happy with it. Oh, for more spinning time!

  7. The fiber looks fantastic! And your wool painting turned out lovely. The other aspect of the photo is that it doesn't show the texture, which adds to the overall appeal of the work. Most inspiring!

  8. Beautiful photos, lucky you to have all that gorgeous fiber. I especially like the dark moorit. Stunning.

  9. Thanks for the comments Karen, Terri and Michelle. I just love that dark moorit fiber too, I wish I had more of it. :-)

  10. Oops Tammy, I forgot to photograph the quilt batt! It's all one big piece of roving, 90 x 90" and about 3" thick. I'll photograph the steps of encasing it in muslin in a later post. I put my comforters in duvet covers -- the wool tends to migrate through the muslin.


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