Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Jacobs Fleece Felted Rug

OK, here goes...

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.

It measured just under 9ft long x 5ft wide at this point and was very thick!

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.

After a day and 2 nights it was dry. I spent a couple of hours today crawling around on it finding and removing burrs and twigs that had escaped my notice. Now it is finished... an Im very happy with it :o) Its worth the aching joint & stiff muscles... and Im sure I will felt more of these. Im actually planning to do a couple of half sized ones with purple accents.

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)



Ruthie Redden said...

Deborah, i love it, wow such hard work, i felt(s'cuse the pun) quite exhausted just reading about the process. But wow, so worth it, its gorgeous. well done for tackling such a huge project. Have a fab camping trip, we are desperate to get away in our tent!!!

Unknown said...

Wow it's amazing, and it looks really snuggly. What a labour of love!

Unknown said...

This is wonderful!!!! I think I would be sleeping on the thing if I put that much energy into it! :)

Heather Woollove said...

Deborah---How fantastic!! I love the red that you used with it...very modern!
What a lot of work, though!!
You deserve a vacation and some rest!

Charlotte said...

This is amazing! You should be very proud of your new rug! I have felted with raw wool once when I was at college! I would do it again if I had the room and time for it!
I bet the rug weighed a ton when it was all wrapped up! What a good workout!

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks folks :o) I love it, to me its worth the aches - which are all better now thank goodness.
Im pretty much ready to go now, just got to throw some clothes in a bag :o) Our house guests arrive later... friends are staying in the house while we are away (Im hoping they remember to water my veggies). So planning a nice dinner tonight.

Felted House said...

I am in awe of such a large project and how well it's come out with such a fantastic texture. Looks like so much hard work though, my friend said she used to roll felt with her feet! xx

feltedfibers said...

Wonderful Deborah, I felted a full fleece but took the easy way and got 4 grandchildren with their wellington boots on stamping in wet suds for the day, its been hanging on the inside of my shed door for several years now. Nice to find your blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow Deborah, I LOVE it!!! The red is a gorgeous contrast with the chocolate and white, you will treasure this for ever, makes me want to go and start another one myself immediately!

FeltersJourney said...

It was too big to roll with my feet unfortunately... I didnt measure the width of the roll but its got to of been about 18"-22" when I started, and it was about 5ft long. Toward the end when it was tighter I did use my feet a little.
I felted rugs with my children a few years ago using our feet. We put the music on and boogied on it like a dancefloor, then wrapped it in a blind and rolled it with our feet. They worked REALLY well (& excellent fun with the kids!), but those rugs were a lot smaller than this one... there are pics on my Flickr gallery under 'kids stuff'.

Katharine's Creations said...

Hello there, finally caught up with your blog, rug looks great, now you are making me feel bad for only doing a pair of Oussant fleece, they are tiny by comparison.

nopony farmer said...

I have literally been scouring the internet for weeks looking for information to make exactly what you have made right here. As far as I can tell, there is no other info anywhere about felting an entire raw fleece. I will make my way to the fiber group you mentioned, but may I ask a question here? The one part that puzzles me is how you were able to leave some "shag" on the wool. It appears that you have some areas where the wool is at least an inch thick. I think I understand how one makes a fringe of looser fibers around the edge (by leaving the fringe hanging out of the plastic roll), but I don't understand how you could end up with fluffy, plush parts in the middle of the rug. This "sheepskin" effect is exactly what I would like to make. Any hints would be greatly appreciated.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marianna Halassy said...

Hi Deborah, the rug is gorgeous!
I have the same question as Colin - is there any tutorial you know of about raw fleece rugs?
While you are felting it are you constantly pulling the locks which you don't want to felt together?
You mentioned that you got some help to make this rug on Flickr; I joined the group you wrote about, but the discussion is blocked there, no info there.
I would really appreciate some hints here. Thanks!

FeltersJourney said...

Thank you Marianna. If you send me a private message (through Flickr, either of my shops - all are named FeltersJourney, or I think through my profile you can contact me.) I shall send you the info I sent to Colin.

Im planning to make another on of these (maybe not as big as the red one) over the summer, think I may put up a tutorial..

p.s. the info wasnt on the Flickr group, it was advise given to me by one of the members.

Thanks for your comment, hope to hear from you & I shall pass on what I know :)

Marianna Halassy said...

Thank you Deborah! I sent you a mail to your Flicker mailbox. Hope you got it!

I think the tutorial is a great idea. I'm sure there are more people looking for information on raw fleece felting.

Thanks again!!!

FeltersJourney said...

Hi Marianna, your message through flickr has not arrived.. Did you follow the link on my blog? If you would like to try again (or through etsy/folksy) please let me know here so I can keep an eye open for it..

I shall do a page on raw fleece rugs.. its just getting round to it tbh.

In the meantime, my friend Heather has started posting the process she uses for raw fleece rugs, if you copy/paste the link into your browser:

As you are probably aware.. its long, hard & dirty work - but worth it for the finished product.


Anonymous said...

You have a wonderful blog with great tutorials. I do have a question about the tips down part...How do you get them to stay that way?? I have lincoln fleece and they just lay flat, they don't 'stand up' in any way, I cant get them to do do you?
Thanks :)

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks Dana :)
I haven't used Lincoln fleece for this to be honest.. I'm wondering if it is to do with the staple length? The length of the fibre I have used has been between 10cm & 13cm. I have used Shetland and Jacobs fleeces.
I find that using a whole (skirted)fleece straight off the sheep it tends to hold together, so when I lay it tips down it stays in place.. around the edges it sometimes lies down, and if there are patches where the fleece isn't holding together so well it lies down there too.. but otherwise its fine.
I have used bits off different fleeces, some longer some shorter, in one rug, so long as they are pushed tightly together they seem to support each other and stay on the tips.
My guess is that it's the long length of the Lincoln that is making it lie down.. try a small section (maybe cushion cover sized), packing it tightly together and just placing your tops over the cut ends and ignoring any locks showing around the edges.. since the butt ends felt faster than the tips, and the tops will go fastest of all it may still work...
Let me know how you get on, I'm interested to know how much different staple length makes.
Deborah x

beej said...

It would seem to me that you might want to do some reading about how they felt rugs in the Middle East if you're going to take on more of these larger projects, though I doubt you'd want to acquire a camel. :-) A garden tractor, or maybe even foot power might work though, once you create the roller to drag behind you.

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks for your advise Beej :)
I'm really interested in how they felt rugs in the Middle East, I've read some really interesting descriptions and watched a couple of good (though too short for my liking :) videos.

Unfortunately my garden is about the size of a postage stamp so tractors are well out of it :) I do know people who've had great success doing that though!

I considered walking the roll by with my poor balance kept falling off it :) It was slower going for me than just rolling it with my arms.

Next time I shall try wrapping it in a sheet (rather than bubble wrap) I think that'll make a more solid roll that I'd be able to walk better. I made a couple of small rugs with my kids years ago and we walked those.. they were rolled in a rush mat so again a firmer footing. I think we helped each other balance too :)

Roving-One said...

What a beautiful rug. I love the contrasting red with the Jacob. What is the purpose of adding the cotton fabric? Does it make felting more difficult?

Roving-One said...

What a beautiful rug. I like the contrast of the red with the Jacob. What is the purpose of adding the fabric? I've not seen this done. Does it make felting it more difficult?

FeltersJourney said...

Thank you :)
the fabric is a fine cotton mesh/net so it felt in easily. the purpose was to add extra strength and stability without adding so many layers of fibre.. I would of used another 2 or even 4 layers of the red fibre if I hadn't used the fabric and that would of been VERY heavy work.
Thanks for asking :)
Deborah x