I planned to felt one of the lovely fleeces from the farm into a sheepskin type felted rug... Now Ive never felted anything this big before... or felted with raw fleece (straight off the sheep, no cleaning). I was very lucky to have excellent advice from Nicola Brown - Clasheen, and Katherine Huggett from Working with Fibre group on Flickr, thanks ladies :o) it was very much appreciated.
My first job was to get some strong bubblewrap that was big enough for the job. The local electrical store came up trumps with 2 HUGE sheets of big bubble-super strong stuff, they were about 10ft long x 5 ft wide.
I chose a beautifully marked Jacobs fleece, with lots of dark bitter chocolate brown & creamy white patches. After picking as much veggie matter & muck out as I could I laid it out tips down (so the bit that had been closest to the sheep was uppermost. Just look at how dark that brown is...
Nicola felted a rug from a Jacobs last year, and I love the way the background felt (in contrasting colour) extended past the fleece and framed it. I decided to do this with red Icelandic wool batts from Alafoss - 750grams worth! I seperated the batts into thin layers and layed out 3 perpendicular layers over the whole fleece & extending past the edges.
Next I layed some purple cotton nuno gauze from Wingham on-top and covered the edges with the last of my batts.
I watered it with very hot water with lots of washing up liquid in, using a watering can with a sprinkler rose on it. It took about 3 gallons to wet it, so good job I was working in the garden! Once rolled it was like a roll of carpet, it was so fat!
Unfortunately it was at this point that I deviated from the good advice... I didnt really have a suitable table to roll it on. The best I could manage was our old picnic bench, which was ok... but being as it was as long as the table I couldnt roll from the short end... which meant the benches were in my way. I couldnt stand close enough to roll easily, so one knee went on the bench and basically I spent 4 hours of rolling - every roll was like an aerobic lunge - hence the stiff muscles! Half way through the rolling I rubbed the fabric side, with my hands in plastic bags, with extra soap just to make sure the fibres had penetrated through the fabric properly.
Id planned to getpast the messy stage and get the kids involved as a family project... it didnt happen - this was really messy. Rachael played mom for the day, she made lunch & drinks bless her :o)
After every 100 rolls I unwrapped it, straightened it out, sprinkled more hot soapy water and rolled in a different direction. Once everything was holiding together well I worked it with the fleece side up for a couple hundred rolls. Then I did something I rarely do... I surrendered it to the washing machine. I drained it, then it went through 2 rinses & 3 wool washes (no extra soap). After every cycle I took it out and checked it carefully. When I was happy it had felted enough and was clean & soap free I put it through a short spin cycle and draped it over a clothes horse to dry.
Just finished picking it over... thought I should test it out for comfort :o)
I used white throwsters waste silk fibre around the edge of the fleece (placed before the batts went down) and in some of the gaps, you can see it here around the outside.
The rug now measures approx 7 1/2ft x 4ft, approximate because of the wavy edges.
What else has been going on this week...? Well the kids attended their golf summer school... at Garys Golf Club. Rachael won a little trophy for the biggest hit from a girl that the pro has taught so far this year - she is very pleased with herself & big bro is chuffed with her too :o) Unfortunately she managed to jar her hand with all the hard hits - its in a sling on doctors orders today. They dont go again for another 2 weeks now so it should be better by then.
We are going camping on Saturday... I really should start thinking about what to take. I probably wont blog again before we go, so until then be well folks and have a good couple of weeks :o)