Sarafina Fiber Art

Sarafina Fiber Art

Friday, November 8, 2013

What Wool?

When I began needle felting I had no idea the doors that would open into a world of wool.  Who knew?  All the Wool People (aka Fiber People) knew, that's who.  People who spin, knit, crochet, felt, weave, shear, wash, dye, and nurture their sheep knew.  I am now in the middle of in-the-know; not a seasoned wool expert, but learning about what I like for needle felting.

Corriedale, Rambouilett, Border Leicester, Teeswater, Wensleydale, Cheviot.... sounds like an impressive cheese platter.  The sheep breeds are endless and the wool fibers as varied.  And now I want cheese.

I ended up frustrated more than once when I bought wool online.  It was not misrepresented, I just did not know what I needed or what to look for.  So much of what is available is geared towards spinners.  Going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival that first year was the best thing I could do.  Wool needs to be seen, touched, smelled!

Soon I understood what kinds of wools I liked to use for needle felting, if not by name than at least by texture.  The challenge then and now is finding a consistent source.  Once you find a good thing you want more!  A reliable source for wool is not easy to come by.  I have a few up my sleeve but am always on the lookout.
My ever changing wool wall
However, part of the art of needle felting, for better or worse, is working with the variations.  Letting the fibers be used how they best fit.   At this point, I could find a use for any fiber that came my way.

Here is what I know I like so far:

Blended Roving - many mills mix sheep varieties.  This approach, along with woolen carding, gives roving a the perfect nubby loft for needle felting.


Romney - Romney seems to have the right balance between kink, consistency, and loft.


East Fresian - My neighbor raises them for milk and out of convenience I decided to wash and card a few fleeces... turns out I love it.  Soft, fuzzy, feltable goodness.

Carded East Fresian in the middle, angora left, and Romney right


Locks - Lincoln for long and silky, Tesswater for smaller curls... more to explore on this front for sure.


Spinner's Hill - look her up!  Amazing batts and rovings, the best white I have ever found. Deep saturated yummy colors.

Suri Alpaca - great for soft locks as hair, manes, tails, etc


Merino and other long fine staple fibers are used as pelts sometimes blended with more easily felted wools.


Angora - get some, even if you can't figure out how to use it (I'll show you how. ; ) watch this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASt6Vn3kxUM), everyone should have a pile of angora to touch.  The world would be a peaceful place if that were the case.

May your most difficult decision in life be which baby bunny to take home.

 The next step?  My own fiber animals of course!







   

4 comments:

  1. Hello mehn, I've been following your blog for almost 6 months now without leaving any comment so I decided to quickly say hi today, just so you know you've got a fan somewhere. LOL. Your blog makes sense to me just like http://danieluyi.com, another similarly interesting blog that I'm also a fan of.

    Keep it up.

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  2. I just put together a list of resources for our textile/fiber art community of our TAFA members (www.tafalist.com) who sell supplies: http://www.tafaforum.com/tafas-do-it-yourself-supplies-tools/ Many of them have batts and roving. You could send them pics of what you do and ask what would work best of what they offer or you could also ask our needle felters that have similar work what they use. I'm sure they would be happy to share sources.

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