Sunday, 30 November 2014

Fibre of the Month November - Estonian Batts

Getting in during November just by the skin of my teeth - though the project will follow in early December (cos it isn't finished yet!)

This month I'm using Estonian Batts from Jane Flanagan Textiles - the batts are a blend of Gotland and merino.  Jane was unsure of the proportion of merino to Gotland in the blend.. but having used them to me they feel and behave like they are mostly Gotland.  I think maybe they are a little softer to handle than if it were just Gotland...

And as this is a blend I'm talking a little bit about both breeds :)

Gotland Sheep
Love the natural colours and wonderful curly fleeces
image from
Just look at that face!  What a beautiful sheep!
image from edengotlandsheep.wordpress
According to the British Coloured Sheep Breeders Association:
Gotland are a Northern Short Tailed breed, originating from the island of Gotland, where primitive examples still exist.  The modern Gotland sheep is famous for its' furskin in attractive shades of silver grey.  This is a sheep which yields 3 crops; good flavoured meat, a soft silky fleece, and its' furskin.

Gotland ewes are good mothers, easy to lamb, prolific and milky.  Lambs are fast to suckle and fast growing from birth.  They are a medium sized friendly sheep that is hardy and adaptable.

Fleeces weight  3 - 3.5 kg
Staple length 13 - 18cm
Averages 35 micron but can be as low as 18-20  /  Bradford count 48 average

Merino Sheep
According to Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers Ltd:
Merino are the oldest established breed of sheep in the world, the breed is named after a nomadic Berber tribe in North Africa who brought their sheep with them to Spain in the 12th century.  After 1786 the Spaniards relaxed their ban on exporting breeding stock.

Fleece weight 4 - 6 kg
Staple length 6 - 10cm
Micron count less than 24

I have a history in history :) I spent many years working for my local museum service and had a particular interest in textiles..   Considering how important the domestic wool industry of Britain was, it may be surprising that as well as exporting an aweful lot of fleece, our ancestors actually IMported it too!  The softest, most expensive and highly prized wool (only available to the rich due to it's cost) was imported Spanish Wool.  Which of course must of been merino..  These days in the UK we get most of our merino from Australia, New Zealand, Africa and South America.. you wouldn't imagine merino being here back in the medieval - until you hear of the history of the merino breed.. wonderful.  This made me really happy when I worked for the museum 'cos it meant I could get away with using merino fibre when I wanted.. it was Spanish Wool :)

And this is what Jane Flanagan says about the blend on the webshop:
'The wool is collected directly from farmers in Scandinavia and Estonia, and is then gently washed in a bleach-free liquid soap.  It is dyed to a beautiful range of colours without the use of harsh chemicals, so that it retains some lanolin and the natural feel and smell of pure wool.'

As you can see I haven't had time to embroider the details on as yet..
Laid out the same as previous samples: 20cm x 20cm square, 3 layers and felted hard to achieve maximum shrinkage.

These batts come as a cut edged square measuring about 20" square (from memory, I didn't measure).
You can feel that there is a nice amount of lanolin in there.  There wan't much veggie matter in the batts I brought.  

It's very easy to peel even layers from the batt to work with!

The sample is made from a very strongly coloured dark orange which I can report was pretty colour fast!  I had a small amount of colour run when I used very hot water in the last stages - but I'd of been more surprised if I didn't.

Finished sample size: 13cm x 12.5cm
Weight: 9.7g
Shrinkage: 35% x 37%

This has made a nice strong felt, now that it is finished it has a softer surface texture than I'd expect from Gotland alone.  But this doesn't detract from the strength of the felt..  It has a slightly hairy finish (actually I noticed while felting that it 'sheds' like Gotland usually does).

Next time: Estonian Batt Boots :)

Thursday, 27 November 2014


Setting up a Facebook Business page has been on my list of things to do for the longest time...  But I have finally done it :)  YAY :)

If anybody would like to pop over and join me there I'd be over the moon ...

I do have a personal profile but as I rarely use it, I really am a total Facebook novice.  Any words of wisdom, advice or shout outs if I manage to screw up will be very much appreciated :)   ... I have so much to learn :S


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Industrial Felt

Whenever I've used felt soles or insoles in the past I have always made my own felt.. but think I may just buy the industrial felt from JoesToes in future for them.  When I think about how long it takes to make such a thick hard piece as I would for soles, and how much fibre it uses I'm sure it works out cheaper to buy the industrial..

And as I said last time, Amanda stocks it in some really lovely colours and she very kindly sent me a sample swatch of all the different colours she stocks.

Really pretty felt colours..
The stars are samples of vibram
I wanted to show you this swatch in yesterdays post.. but forgot to take the photo until after it got dark :)

I've got a piece of red and a piece of green waiting to be used.. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014


Thank you everybody who commented on my last post!  I really do appreciate you taking the time to offer you opinion.. you all made my decisions very easy :)  

I went with RED..

hope the colours show up ok.. red tones are always tricky
Buttoned up
and open :)
It's the first time I've used industrial felt for anything.. I must say I thought they'd be easier to sew on than leather soles but it was harder!  My fingers were soooo sore by the time I finished.  I didn't want to punch holes 'cos that would weaken the felt, where as I always punch holes in leather.. and I guess the 5mm thickness may of had something to do with it too.  But I think they look lovely.. and I wouldn't hesitate to use it again (I'd wear leather thimbles next time though lol).  I'll post again quickly tomorrow about the industrial felt, I want to take a photo of the sample swatch and as it's dark now shall have to leave that bit till tomorrow.

I haven't painted the latex on as yet just incase who ever buys them wants them left 'naked'.  I have some customers who ask for bare felt soles so they can slip and slide around the hard floors in their homes :) it always makes me smile imagining them. 

If anyone is interested I shall be listing these boots tomorrow in my Etsy shop.. they're a UK womens size 7 to 7.5

Thanks again for your help folks :)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Your advice would be appreciated..

I was recently asked to felt a pair of rainbow fade boots using red, orange and yellow.. and to incorporate a spiral into the design..  this is what I came up with

Just finished drying..
They still need the closures sewing on so look a bit 'naked' at the moment..
The customer wanted latex soles rather than leather.. well you know I don't like painting it directly onto the slippers.  So I suggested a separate felt sole with the latex painted onto that.. and I decided to go with an industrial felt from Joestoes - she has it in really pretty colours.  I ordered the red and green so the customer could choose which they prefer.

Trouble is it turns out this wasnt at all what the customer was envisaging.. so they are going into my Etsy shop at the weekend.  And I have to decide which sole will go best..  decisions decisions..

The green will pick up the spiral beautifully..
making a really vibrant, funky pair of statement boots
The deep red picks up the dark part of the variegate red yarn in the spiral..
and I think it will ground the boots, mellowing them and giving them a cosy character.
In short I am torn.. I think they'd both look nice but can't decide which would look best..if either would look better than the other - I think it may just be a case of being different.  So the decision is what character these boots should have; bright & vivacious, or mulled wine and log fires cosy...?

HELP please..  I would really appreciate all suggestions.  As mentioned I want to get them listed at the weekend, so I've got 2.. 3 days at a pinch.. to make a decision.