Posted by: bschutzgruber | October 23, 2020

“It’s free….do you want it?” The Saga Continues

Chapter I – Scouring/Washing Fleece
Back in May I finally got around to washing a Romney fleece I’d been given in 2017. [“It’s free…do you want it?” ]
I ended up with 3 bags (36″ x 16″ x 5″) of washed fleece but there was quite a bit of plant debris that still needed to be removed.

Chapter II – Removing Plant Debris
For several days in July I sat on the back deck combing, shaking, and picking out plant debris by hand from the fleece.

Several weaving projects [Adventures at an Auction, Skin: We’re All Part of the Same Cloth, and Accepting a Challenge!] took priority for July, August, and September so I’m just now able to get back to the fleece.

Chapter III – Sample Test
I’ve felted with Romney wool in the past but it had always been carded (brushed until the fibers are more or less aligned in the same direction). This wool was still pretty chunky but I like the crimp. It also has some canary staining which is a result of bacterial action in wool under wet and humid conditions, and does not wash out. I was curious to see how the color would blend and if the crimp will remain after felting so I laid out a 12″ x 12″ sample to felt.

When held up to the light the resulting felt has some interesting details but the felt itself is pretty rough so I will need to card it. 

Chapter IV – Carding
The prospect of carding 3 bags worth by hand was not something I was looking forward to doing so I put out a call to my fellow Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild members to see if anyone had a drum carder that I could borrow or rent. I was very happy when Agnes Soderbeck [http://www.wildedgefelt.com] emailed to say I could come to her studio and use her drum carder = Yipee!!!

Agnes’ studio space is in a barn that from 1929-1945 housed the elephants for the winter camp of the Michigan based Lewis Brothers Circus. [One of the stories of the circus is that of a tragic accident that occurred in 1942 near Canton, Ohio, when a train hit one of the show trucks, killing an elephant handler and two Elephants (Lew and Tony).]

Oh yes….I have studio envy!!

Over 2 afternoons I carded the fleece.

I brought along a bag of dyed sliver that’s been in my stash since 2013. This was also an ‘It’s free….do you want it?” item.

10 hours of carding later…. 4 bags of Romney and 1 bag-and-a-bit of the sliver.

Chapter V – More Samples
I wasn’t sure what the colored wool was so I did a test felting it plus I tested the Romney batt.

The Romney batt felted much better and the colored sliver turned out to be alpaca.  I’ve been felting for nearly 25 years but have only worked with alpaca a few times so I wanted to see how it would felt to silk chiffon fabric and the Romney wool (it did OK with both), plus I needed an estimate on shrinkage (30-35%).

At this point I’m in good shape and on track to create some new felt projects!
The saga continues…..


Responses

  1. I’m not a felter but it is fun to follow your journey

    • Hi Barb-
      Thanks!!
      I liked your write up for taking Zoom Workshops. The Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild is all via Zoom too. We’ve had some good talks and a workshop by joining forces with the Needle and Textile Guild of Michigan.
      All the best!
      Barb


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