Sunday, 19 January 2014

Something new for 2014 - Fibre of the Month

This year I am going to experiment more with new fibres..  Fibres I have either never used before, or not used very much.  I'm going to try to work on and blog about one of these fibres every month..

January's fibre is SHETLAND

Image found on the net.
I love Shetland sheep.. and their fleeces are gorgeous to spin and felt
Micron 29-31  /  Staple length 90mm
Shetland sheep are one of the UK's oldest breeds.. brought to the Shetland islands by Viking settlers over 1000 years ago.  They are small, hardy, adaptable and very friendly.  Usually rams have curly horns and ewes are hornless.  There are 11 recognised fleece colours, and 30 recognised markings. Apparently of the names of the colours and markings are still the old Norse names.  More info at keepthefleece.

The very first fleece I ever had was a Shetland!  It was all lovely light browns and grey with a little white.  A lady I knew spent each summer living on the Shetland Isles as a Viking (re enactor) and at the end of summer came back with as many fleeces as she could carry.  This was many years ago, but I still have some of that first fleece unused.. it's special and waiting for a special project :)

For this feature I used Black Shetland tops.  The first step was to make a sample swatch.  I shall do this for each fibre and record the same details.  There was a brilliant tip for this in the September 2013 Felt Matters magazine article - CiFT Getting Started by Debbie Lucas.. as follows:

Make a 20cm x 20cm square, with lines every 2cm going in both directions to make a grid; so there are 10 squares across in each direction.  This is good for gauging shrinkage.. as each square represents 10% in that direction. Laminating the square protects in from water while using it.. place the laminated square beneath the bubble wrap and lay out fibre on top of it using the outside of the square as your guide.

And this is what I did :)   I didn't take pics as I went along.. it was just a square.  I used 3 layers, and felted it thoroughly to get maximum shrinkage.  

There is one difference in my sampling from what the article suggested. Weight; I am laying out a specific size and no. of layers and weighing the finished felt sample.  The article suggests starting with a certain weight of fibre each time..  well I want to know how much fibre I will use for a set piece, not scrimp to make heavier fibres go further or layer it thick for light weights..


- I found that it stretched when I wet it out.. it ended up quite a bit bigger than I had laid it out.
- It is an easy felter.

Weight:        15.6grams
Finished size: 20cm x 14cm
Shrinkage:  30% in one direction only

This was a bit of a shocker!  It had stretched so much initially that when I fulled it to it's maximum shrinkage it was the same size as it started in the direction that only had one layer of fibre.

I am freemotion embroidering the details onto each sample..
there's no forgetting or risk of mix ups that way :)

The finished felt is really lovely and tactile!  Strong and firm, slightly fluffy rather than hairy, but feels quite soft to the touch.  I don't think I'd use it for garments that are next to the skin, I think it could be a little itchy.

Lesson Learned
Be very careful when wetting out!  Wet the edges first making sure they don't migrate sideways, then work your way in.. and rub the outside edges first.  I did the samples edges first.. just not carefully enough I guess!

The next post will be a project made from Shetland.. 


Terriea Kwong said...

A very good record of sampling and nice way of marking notes. Wonderful reference ! Thanks for sharing.

Elmtree said...

This sounds like an interesting experiment! I will be following your trials .
I found some Pitt Island and moufflon wool in my stash, which I want to spin this year, rare breeds.
I love trying new things.

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks Terrie :) x

Ooo Elmtree, I hadn't heard of Pitt Island or Moufflon.. I like rare breeds. I'm looking forward to experimenting this year x

Zed said...

I plan to do the same with wools and fibres, I have two lists, one with wools and fibres I chose to go with them and one where I randomly picked the fibres. I'll be happy if I even do one :)
I'll look forward to your posts :)

Unknown said...

I started doing this and was amazed at the felting results from various fibers. I also love, love, love, the freehand embroidery on the swatch. That is a clever idea indeed! I look forward to seeing your results and the fibers you choose!

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks girls :) I've been meaning to do samples for aaaages.. I'm quite excited about doing it this way and blogging about each one, it'll help keep me focused (and if it doesn't feel free to shout at me lol)

Jenny said...

I'm a great fan [and only recently discovered you/your work]. I raise a small /colorful flock of Shetlands! I wish we were neighbors! :)

FeltersJourney said...

ooo Jenny, I wish we were neighbours too! I love Shetland sheep, and of course their fleeces.. I followed the link to your site and I think we have a very similar style especially with our sheepy stuff.. though I'd never seen yours before either until just now. We must be very like minded :) I love your work too!