Friday, May 13, 2011

A Felted Fleece

 
I finally got a chance to try felting a raw fleece last week. It's the perfect way to use up those fleeces that are in the rise at shearing and those that are too short for optimum spinning.
This is Ginger's lamb fleece. She was coated last winter so her fleece was nice and clean, but she was in the rise at shearing. You can see it on the cut end of the fleece.

I added a layer of dark moorit roving, covered it with netting and wetted it down with hot soapy water.  Then the rolling began!  First by hand and then in the rolling machine.  
It was a very dirty job, but the result was well worth it.  My felted fleece is soft and warm, and it smells so good. I love to snuggle up under it!

7 comments:

  1. I'm so glad I got to see this piece in person. I can't wait to try to make one of my own. Your's was SO SOFT!

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  2. Thanks Sabrina, it was so great to finally get to visit you yesterday and see Boston Lake!
    If you do try this project, a word of a warning -it needs to be done outside -- at least for the beginning stages when the water is the dirtiest.

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  3. I love that idea! I would have thought that the tips of the fleece would felt down and not look so much like a pelt. They are great!

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  4. Hi Becky - I think this is so cool and would love to learn more! I don't have a machine roller - do you think it would still be possible to do? I am afraid that manually felting the back would affect the fleece - yes/no? It doesn't look like you added any cotton gauze or anything else as a backing - do you think that would be better or worse?
    I assume that you said it was a dirty job because you are using a raw unwashed fleece so that you are felting the back and washing it at the same time?
    Any other advice or thoughts as to what types of fleece this would work well for or not so well?
    Thanks for your help - I really want to try this!
    Gail

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  5. Thanks Gail. Yes it is essentially washing and felting the fleece at the same time. And no I didn't incorporate a fabric in the backing. But I think that would be a great idea and I will try it next time.
    I need to say that I was never taught how to do it, I just jumped in after reading tips on Heather's Wool love-functional fiber art blog and in my rolling machine instruction book. So I might not be doing it the most efficient way. I'm really excited about going to a felting retreat (The Creative Felt Gathering)in September so I can study with Elis Vermuelen and learn the proper techniques.
    If you don't have a rolling machine, you might want to start off with a small version, the bigger ones get quite heavy and with the lanolin in the water, they are kind of hard to handle and roll because they get slippery.
    I think most fast felting fleeces would work, just don't turn the piece over, only work the back side and most of the tips won't get felted in. It's amazing!

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  6. Thanks for the info Becky. I am going to experiment with this. I still have a few ewes to lamb & then I will have a bit more spare time.
    Your idea to start with a smaller version is a good idea. I have a variety of fleeces - from those that felt pretty easily like the BFLs or some Romneys to those that don't felt very easily like the Dorsets or Southdowns. It might be interesting to use a fleece that is harder to felt with roving from a sheep that felts more easily.
    Thanks again & I will let you know how they turn out and if I learn anything new!
    Gail

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  7. I would save the BFLs until you're more experienced, their fleeces are like gold to me. I think they would be wonderful for this. My initial thought was to use a slower felting fleece with fast felting roving like you mentioned. So my first attempt was with a Dorset cross fleece and Shetland Mule roving. But it didn't turn out (because I laid it out with the tips up rather than tips down as shown in this post of a successful project). I just wouldn't use anything too precious for your first attempt. The good news is you can always pull apart and drumcard your mistakes. :-)

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