Tag Archives: wool

Teresa’s Tips – Felting and Felt

I know you’ve done it.  If not, some man in your household has done it for you.  That special sweater that is supposed to be dryed flat…. now fits a toddler.  So how and why does wool shrink when dryed?

First of all, the wool did not shrink.  It has however changed shape and may or maynot ever be the same again. 
Secondly, many people think it is the heat of the dryer that caused the damage.  This is not true.  When wool is dyed it is brought to near boiling temperatures, yet does not ‘shrink’ or felt at all. 

So what does happen and why?

Take a look at these wool fibers up close.  See the scales on them? 

When wool is wet and agitated, these scales begin to connect together and interlock.  The more they are agitated, the more tangled and locked they become until they are densely felted.  Your sweater has an even great tendency to felt because heat and detergent cause the scales to open more readily.  Plus the knit of the sweater gives the wool a ‘head start’ on the tangling process.


But what about needle felting?  The wool is dry for that and yet it still felts. 

With needle felting, the effect is the same, but the cause is different.  A specially designed felting needle is used.  At the tip of the needle are very tiny barbs, or scales.  These barbs lift the edge of the wool scales, allowing them to interlock and the felting action to take place.

Can felting be ‘un felted’. 
I’ve never tried to unfelt something that is firmly felted, but since what has happened is a tangling and interlocking of the wool, some gentle tugging and maybe even a mist of fabric softner could help your unintentionally felted object.  But a fully felted object is pretty permanantly changed.

Oh!  And be careful with those needles!  They are sharp!

My Right Brain Wrestles with My Left Brain

I’m sitting at my computer feeling guilty about not having blogged in ‘forever’…. and trying to think of a topic that would be interesting and also supportive of my peers in business. I am an artist trying to be a business owner. My right brain and left brain trip over eachother often, yet I think as an artist I have a perspective that benefits my customers.

I recently had a custom request for some roving for a spinner who wanted to make yarn that was inspired by coffee foam. As an artist, I knew exactly what she meant. So we started talking color and texture and exchanging photos. 23 emails later, we came up with this blend of 7 different wool fibers that will emmulate a steamy cup o’ cappuccino.

Coffee Foam Roving

Cappuccino Roving

So, my office is a mess and I always push the deadline to the bitter edge (or just past) and I’m constantly running to and fro.  But I can speak the same language as my customers because we share a creative connection.  My business has become an extension of my art.  I can’t wait to see what the Coffee Foam yarn looks like, or whatever the next inspired project may be.  Custom orders are no problem because I understand when someone says “can we add a ‘pinch’ of a cinnamon colored wool to that?”
Whatever your art, consider where you shop.  By shopping from another artisan who is trying to ‘make a living’ as a supplier, you are supporting “the little guy” and helping someone’s dream come true.  At the same time, you should find that you get excellent customer service because your supplier understands what you are doing. 
So if you can deal with the fact that we organize in piles instead of in files… make an artist your supplier.
Team ESST is the Supply Team on Etsy.  Many of the suppliers are also artists.  Whether you are looking for beads, paper, tools, fabric or wool; you can find it at Team ESST on Etsy.   http://www.freewebs.com/etsysupplystreetteam/ 

The New Shop is Open (Mostly!)

You know when a big project seems like it won’t be that big… and it turns out to be even bigger than you’d imagined possible?  Well, that is what it is like moving a fiber artisan store and studio into your home.

My family was tired of my being gone so much and we had a buyer for our commercial building… so why not move the business to the house.  After all, we live downtown and we have plenty of room… maybe I can offer more hours and expand my product line too. 

I picture my kids helping me wind skeins of yarn and card roving.  We all sit in a circle by the fire and spin on Sunday afternoon.  The dog lays peacefully at my feet and my dining room is always ready to receive guests and students.

THEN I WAKE UP!

First I have to make a space.  The side porch is perfect.  It is light and breezy and actually bigger than the space I had before.  It is also a major disaster area as it has served as our families catch all for the last 5 years. 

Then there is the parking.  My husband’s collection of junker cars has got to go!  (This is the good part!) Woo Hoo!!

Now we are in the middle of moving and organizing.  I took a few pictures after stage one and posted them on the website.  www.yarn2spin.com

At this moment I have had a relapse with a sudden onslaught of stuff brought from the old location.  It arrived faster than I could put it away.  But hopefully by Thursday, the next Knit -n- Spin, I’ll be ready for the public once again.

Find out when we meet at http://www.meetup.com/Greenville-Knit-n-Spin/  Class schedules too!

 

See the New Selection of Michigan Made Shepherd’s Wool yarn!!

shepwoolallcolors 

 

2009 – The International Year of Natural Fibers

Yarn 2 Spin strives to provide quality fibers to textile artisans.   Spinners, Weavers, Knitters, Felters and Crocheters can all find unique fibers to feed their creativity.  95% of the fibers we sell are natural fibers.  We strive to obtain products that are grown and processed with environmentally responsible methods.  Visit the online store to see what we have:   Yarn 2 Spin Store

We are very excited that the UN has declared 2009 as The Year of The Natural Fiber.  This video will show the production and uses of natural fibers around the world and how the industry is changing to meet the demands of today’s market.

The Making of Yarn! Part II

Sorry it has been a few days….  Life does get busy… especially with all my bunnies hoping around.

Part II

After the sheep is shorn and the fleece is skirted, it is generally washed.  Some spinners to spin “in the grease”, but that is a specialty that we won’t get to for now. 

Washing a fleece correctly is important to remove the lanolin and vegetable matter and … uh hummm, other ‘stuff’ that may be stuck in the wool.   After all, wool is a natural product.  The trick is to clean the fiber without felting or damaging the wool. 

You want to try it on your own?  Here is one way… There are several.

Tub Washing

1.  Fill a large tub, basin or bucket with very hot water.  Add 1 cup of detergent.  I use dish detergent.

2. Submerge your fleece in the water.  Do NOT agitate!  Just let it soak for about 45 minutes.

3.  Lift the fleece out of the water and set aside.

4.  Repeat steps 1 and 2. 

5.  Sort the fibers that are clean enough to dry and those that need to go through steps 1 and 2 again.

6.  Before drying…  Fill  your tub one more time with Hot water and about 1 cup of white vinegar and let soak for 30 minutes.

7.  Now remove your fiber, gently squeezing out extra water and lay flat to dry.  I dry mine on the trampoline… but a towel or sheet works fine too.

You can do the above in your washing machine… but be careful not to let it it agitate.  I have found that the lanolin is really not very good for my machine… so now I use a tub.

It is fun to wash your own fleece, but if you want to get to the next step faster, you may want to send it out to be done.  Here are some links to some of the mills I know of.

www.woolmill.com

www.zwool.com

www.stonehedgefibermill.com

http://fibermill.yurtboutique.com/

Upcoming New Series – The Making of a Yarn!

A knitting friend of mine told me that she never thought about where her yarn comes from until she started coming to my shop and watching the spinners.  So let’s take some time to get back to basics and look at yarn from the beginning.

For the sake of simplicity, we will begin with the world’s most popular type of yarn… wool.  By the end of the series we will talk about other fibers and forms of making yarn too…. but first things first.

Baaaa!

Baaaa!

 

Yes, it starts with the sheep… or llama, or goat , or rabbit, or camel, or bison, or some type of wool producing creature.  (Veggie fibers are coming up later). 

There are many different breeds and kinds of sheep fibers that can be spun into yarn.  Two of the major considerations when determining the use of a wool fiber is the coarseness (measured in microns) and the staple length.   A very soft fiber has a micron of 22 or less.  We’ll look at staple length more later.

Sheep must be shorn to harvest the wool fiber.  It doesn’t hurt them, and if it wasn’t done they could have serious health problems.  That is why sheep have always been cared for by a shepherd.  Domestic breeds of sheep are not likely to survive long without the care of people.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Shady Side Farm on Shearing Day!  It was very interesting.  Read about the process of shearing the sheep on their blog.   http://shadysidefarm.blogspot.com/2009/03/shearing-day-photo-report.html

The next in this series will cover the washing and preparing of the shorn fibers. 

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What’s in a Ball? One never knows….

In one of my felting classes I taught my students to make felted geodes… or as I like to call them, wool-eodes. They are fun, easy and no two are alike. 

An unopened Wool-eode

An unopened Wool-eode

So I made a kit where you can create your own. Once you make one, you can send in a picture of your creation to share. Each kit makes 2 wool-eodes.

To order – visit the online store!

The Inside of a Wool-eode

The Inside of a Wool-eode

So, what do you do with a wool-eode?

Toss it, Bounce it, kick it, let the cat play with it,  When you eventually cut it open, you can make something with it or just admire your creation.

For more felting fun! Check out The Fiber Friday Carnival!  http://www.alpacafarmgirl.com/2009/03/fiber-arts-friday-carnival/