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 -, 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!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

We all Have to Start Somewhere and Foot in Mouth

Recently I shared and commented on a how-to video that used a mold for needle felting a 3D dog.  I regret trying to work out my thoughts on my Facebook page.  My comments were a written dialog of what was going through my head while watching the video.  I was not trying to convince anyone else that working with a mold was a bad idea or to say that that particular kit was not helpful and ingenious, or that using a mold is not the perfect enjoyable and rewarding way for kids or beginners to get introduced to needle felting.  I loved doing paint by numbers when I was a kid; I got to use the paints and brush, loose myself in the process, and create something pretty cool.  It didn't mean I didn't go on to learn how to mix my own colors and make a painting from the bottom up or that paint by numbers was not fun and satisfying.

Some of my first ornaments... not even as old as my very first ones which I have no record of because I did not even own a digital camera!

Little Blind Dogs ( ? ? )

Discovering fiber arts opens up a wonderful world.  The joy and fun is in the fiber and exploring a new creative process.  That's what got me hooked when I began five years ago.   Now that I have a growing following on Facebook and Youtube, many people are seeing my work for the first time at a current level.  I started at the beginning, though, just like anyone else.

A goat, deer, and pony - these were all only about 2" tall

My goal is to teach and share in a way that I believe in.  The possibilities are endless, felting wool is no less than miraculous, the medium is forgiving and lends itself to fuzzy cuteness, and it doesn't take an art degree to enjoy it.  My techniques are methods that I grew with, that I practiced, and that were born out of my desire to make the next one better.  As you can see I've come a long way!

It seems I did not think any critters needed to see.
Happy creating, Sara