Needle Felted Sheep Class

I hope all our American friends had a great Thanksgiving and have survived Black Friday.  Up here in Canada it is a new idea that has really only caught on along the boarder, where they hope for cross boarder shopping.  While some were out shopping I spent Saturday teaching a needle felted sheep class.

Here are a few of mine that created the demand for the class.


I had 3 student that had never needle felted before. We start by making all the parts. I forgot to take pictures early on but here are some legs being attached. I left the pen in to help you see the size.

adding legs

I love the way people really get into the felting. Such concentration. You can see her right hand is blurry as she needles the head on.

consentrating  After the parts of the sheep are all needle felted together and they have naked sheep,  it’s time to start adding curls. We use Bluefaced Leicester curls. They are good for this application because they are small tight curls.

starting to look like a sheep almost wooly enough

The last thing they add are the eyes. You don’t want to be stabbing something that is looking at you. LOL

adding the eyes

Here they are posing on some weaving that was on one of the looms in the Guild studio. I brought lots of colours but 2 of the ladies decide to got with the natural curls.

all finished They are always so cute.





Posted in Needle Felting, Teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Notebook Winner and Another Free Design

The winner of the felt notebook is Rhonda Lynn! Rhonda Lynn please contact me with your snail mail address at laneruthe at gmail dot com and I will send you the notebook. I used a random number generator to pick the winner and the number was 11. So congratulations to Rhonda Lynn.

Back in October, I told you about a project I am working on with Deb Stika using her contemporary and modern designs. So I am posting another free design today in PDF format that you are welcome to use in your work. I would love to see if you make anything. Last time, Teri Berry made a beautiful nuno felted creation from one of the designs. You can see her piece here.

Psychedelic 1

This next design is in the Psychedelic category.

Psychedelic 1 - Hand Stitch

This is Deb’s hand stitched representation of the design. The background fabric is a piece of screen printed fabric that I made several years ago.

Cut Back Felt Machine Applique - Psychedelic Design 1

And this is my machine stitched cut back applique made with two layers of felt. Since several people thought it would be a good idea to have some tutorial aspects in the proposed book, I did a short tutorial to show you how I made this.

Water Soluble Taped to Paper Design

I started with the printed design on paper. I then taped down water soluble fabric over the design and traced it. Use a regular pencil, not a colored pencil. Colored pencils have wax that gum up your sewing machine needle.

Two Layers of Felt

I then chose a couple of pieces of screen printed felt in different colors. It helps if the colors are different either in value or hue.

Water Soluble with Design on Felt

I placed the design over the felt and then…

Water Soluble Fabric Pinned to Two Layers of Felt

pinned it down. It would probably be better to baste all the layers together but I was being lazy and it actually didn’t shift that much with stitching.

Stitching Outer Edge

I then began free motion stitching the outer edge. With free motion stitching you need to use a darning foot, lower the feed dogs and set your stitch length to zero. I stitched all the lines at least twice over.

Close Up Free Motion Machine Stitching

Here’s a little bit closer view of the stitching.

Stitching Inner Lines

Then I started working on the inner lines. I made sure to stitch in place at the end of each inner design to lock the thread and then just moved the needle to the next spot. At the end, you have to trim off all the threads that are between the stitched designs.

Still Stitching

And then I stitched, stitched and stitched some more. It took a while.

Ready to Start Cutting Back

I cut off the excess threads and trimmed off the extra water soluble fabric from around the edges.

Water Soluble Dissolved

Then I soaked the piece in warm water to dissolve the water soluble fabric. Then I let the piece dry completely. I forgot to take any photos of the cut back process. While carefully looking at the paper design, I decided which areas to cut out. Use a sharp pair of embroidery type scissors and cut inside your stitched lines. Only cut the first layer of fabric or felt as close to the stitched line as possible. But don’t cut through your stitching.

Cut Back Complete

And here you can see the green beneath showing where I cut out portion of the upper blue felt.

Dense Free Motion Stitching

I then did some really dense stitching on the “black” part of the original design.

Cut Back Felt Machine Applique - Psychedelic Design 1

And this is the result. I think if I was going to mount this piece, I might cut around the outside of the design to give it more definition. But I am leaving it how it is for right now. So here’s another mini challenge, use this design in your own work with whatever media you choose. You can increase the size of the design if you’d like or leave it as it is. Have fun!

Psychedelic 1 with copyright



Posted in Announcements, Free Motion Stitching, Giveaways | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Different Types of Wool, From a Swedish Felter´s Perspective

Guest Post from Zara Tuulikki Rooke

As a felter and sheep-owner, I am intrigued by the variety of wool from different sheep breeds. As I live in Sweden, I have mostly felted wool from Swedish breeds, which are divided into three different basic types:

1)    Finull, which literately means “fine wool”. We have a breed of sheep with the same name, which produce a soft, silky and fine-fibred wool (often 20-30 microns), with little difference between the undercoat and outer coat (i.e. it all, more or less, looks like undercoat).  The fibres are quite short and have a fine crimp. Finull sheep can be white, black or brown.

2. Gobelängull, which can be translated into “tapestry wool”, and Gotland wool are our equivalents to “long-wool”. This is a slightly coarser, but lustrous wool (from 30 microns and upwards), with fewer crimps (“waves”) per cm. Coarser wool from Finull sheep, with no more than 5 crimps per 3 cm, is classified as Gobeläng. Gotland sheep have been bred for meat and pelts, and the latter has steered the selection towards long, lustrous, medium to large curls in the outer coat, with an undercoat of similar length and thickness. A fine-fibred undercoat would only lead to the pelts becoming fuzzy. Gotland fleeces can vary quite a lot, both in colour (very light to very dark grey) and in the shape of the locks. As a general rule, finer fibres have finer curls/crimp, and coarser fibres have a larger curl.  

3)    Ryaull, which can be translated into “carpet wool” (“rya” is a type of hooked wool carpet). Sheep of the breed Rya have a short, fine undercoat and a long, lustrous, wavy to straight and rather coarse outer coat. Ideally, the undercoat makes up 40-60% of the volume of the fleece on an adult sheep. Rya sheep are either white or black.

Below is a sketch showing the general difference between the three types of wool, and photos of wool from Finull, Gotland and Rya sheep to illustrate the difference.

Photo 1Thanks to rather recent conservation programmes, we also have a number of smaller native landrace breeds. These are small breeds, which have been locally isolated and are now named after the region or village where they were rediscovered. They are generally quite small and hardy, with good mothering instincts and easy lambing, and can vary in colour and type of wool even within an individual fleece. Below are photos of wool from two such breeds, Åsen and Klövsjö, which to me both look like finer versions of Rya.

Below are also three photos of white wool from cross-breeds. “Svea” is a collective name used for native breeds crossed with imported meat breeds (such as Texel or any of the British Downs). As expected, the wool on a Svea sheep can vary a lot depending on its ancestry. The photo furthest to the left (“Svea”) shows a fuzzy type of wool, which is typical for the meat breeds. The photo in the middle (“Svea x Finull”) shows wool with a crimp of Finull type. And the photo furthest to the right shows wool from an interesting new breed called Jämtland (named after the county I live in), which originates from a cross between Svea, Finull and Merino. This breed has been developed to produce fine fibre wool as a complement to lamb meat production.

Photo 2Now that we have looked at the different types of wool, it´s time to do some felting! Swedish native breeds are known to have wool that felts easily, but I wanted to compare their felting characteristics to these cross-breeds and to merino. Wool properties can vary between individual animals, and even within the same fleece, and this is not a strict scientific set-up with replicates. But I did try to standardize as much as possible. The wool was washed and carded, and I used 10g of each wool. I laid out the wool in 4 layers to cover a 20cm x 20 cm square, and on top of that, I laid out a piece of red cotton gause, a piece of wool yarn and a piece of cotton yarn. Then I felted each piece – wetted, added soap, rubbed, rolled and finally fulled it by more rubbing and tossing with hot water.

Photo 3As expected, the Finull, Gotland and Rya wool was easy to felt and full. I measured the width and height of each piece and compared that area (in cm2) to the original size (20 cm x 20 cm = 400 cm2).  The finer Finull shrunk to about 50% of the original size, while the coarser Gotland and Rya shrunk down to 42%. The latter two also result in a very thick, sturdy and rather hairy piece, where the fabric and yarn have become enclosed in the wool. These coarser wools are good for things that need to be sturdy and robust, such as slippers or rugs. They are perhaps not the best choice for nuno-felting, but a little shave would bring out the fabric again. The Finull is much softer, although densely fulled, which must be ideal for e.g. a hat or anything you would wear close to your skin.

Photo 4The Åsen and Klövsjö behaved pretty much like the Rya, with the Åsen actually shrinking a little more (to 39%), but felt a little less hairy. That makes sense, as they looked like a finer type of Rya, and consist of a mix of finer fibres and some coarser fibres (as opposed to the Gotland that more or less consists of only one type of medium coarse fibres). That the Åsen shrunk the most did not surprize me either. The wool comes from my previous ram, and his fleece often felted before I had a chance to shear it. The Klövsjö wool is from my new ram, who is still a lamb, which explains why it still feels quite soft. His fleece will probably develop into a coarser Rya-type fleece with time.

Photo 5Apparently, all the Swedish native sheep breeds, and the British long-wool breeds, have a different type of scales on their wool fibres, compared to other breeds. Their scales are smoother and laid out edge to edge. This reflects more light, making them look more shiny/lustrous, and provides less friction, making them feel softer and facilitating the fibres to slide into each other and felt together. Other breeds have rougher scales, overlapping like roofing tiles, which makes them more difficult to felt. Wool from meat breeds is described as fluffy wool, that wants to return to its previous state when squeezed, and therefore good to use as pillow stuffing, but not for felting. This difference becomes quite obvious if you try to stuff a bag with wool from a Swedish native breed versus a meat breed. The latter just feathers back and takes up space no matter how much you try to squash it down.

Below are photos of my felted samples of cross-breeds. The cross-breed with meat-type wool (Svea) did felt, but was difficult to full and only shrunk to 77% of the original size. The resulting piece also felt quite loose and spongy. The cross-breed with Finull-type wool felted a lot easier and shrunk down to 52.5 % in size when fulled (which is close to the pure Finull). The finer Jämtland (a cross between Svea, Finull and Merino) took a little convincing and careful handling to start felting, and couldn´t be fulled down to less than 72% of the original size. However, this piece felt very flat and dense, and very soft. In my opinion, an excellent choice for felting anything where softness is important.

Photo 6Lastly, I felted some merino (dyed and of unknown micron value) and some wool from a cross of dairy breeds (East Friesian Dairy Sheep x Lacaune Lait). The merino wool is, of course, unbelievably soft, but being used to the coarser and more easily felted Swedish breeds, I do find it a bit trickier to felt. The initial wetting down and start of the felting requires much more patience and caution than I am used to. I guess the fine fibres have a lot of air in between them, and it takes a while to convince the fibres to latch on to each other. I couldn´t full the merino down to less than 68% of its original size either, which is similar to the Jämtland wool. Compared to Jämtland, the merino does feel slightly more spongy, but much denser than the Svea meat-type wool, and yes, very soft. The dairy wool felt very fluffy to begin with (I have only seen it in a carded state), but felted very nicely and evenly and shrunk to 52.5% (the same as the Svea Finull-type wool). It´s a bit spongy too, but also denser than the Svea meat-type wool, and very soft. A nice wool for felting things that do not need to be so sturdy.

Photo 7 If you have managed to read this far, you must be a fibre nerd… The differences I have described above may seem small to some, but to a felter, the felting-capability of a wool, and the difference between shrinking to 39% or 77% of the original size, can make quite a difference in the finished piece. All the samples I tried could be felted, but they acted differently, especially during fulling, and produced different results. From smooth to hairy, soft to sturdy and dense to spongy. Different types of wool are better used for felting different things. Is softness or strength and lustre more important for what you want to make? Knowing your wool helps, because even if felting is fun, you don´t really want to wear through your slippers too quickly, or wear a hairy and itchy hat, do you…?

Thanks Zara for this wonderful guide to Swedish sheep and their wool.

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Wet Felting for Beginners Online Course and Giveaway

As Ruth mentioned last week, we’ve changed the format of our Wet Felting for Beginners online course. We had lots of enquiries about it between courses, and even with the extra weeks of support some people found it difficult to fit it in, or dates still clashed. So we’ve changed it to a ‘3 part course’ with unlimited access to the coursework, videos and class forum and continuous tutor support.

aa wet felting FOR BEGINNERS 3 PART COURSEFor anyone not familiar with the course, it covers all the ‘basics’ over the 3 parts, including wool lay out; how to get neat edges; the wet-felting process; exercises to learn about shrinkage and what affects it, and how to measure shrinkage and use this to calculate your layout size for future projects;  a whole load of information about different wools, felting methods and techniques to help you try out different things to find what suits you.

There are more details on the class information page, and we’ve included a detailed supplies list and what you’ll need for your wet felting ‘equipment’ :

Registration is open now, just use the contact form at the bottom of the class info page, and you can start the course as soon as payment is cleared.

But we also have 2 chances to win a free place in our giveaway! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post (make sure you use a valid email address, it won’t be shown, but we’ll need to contact you).

The winners will be announced on December the first and you’ll be contacted with all the details. Please feel free to share this on social media. Good Luck!

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Textile Museum

The sale I go to in September is put on by a local Textile museum.  The Mississippi Valley Textile museum. It is in an old textile mill and is more about the manufacture of textiles than the textiles themselves. There changing exhibits tend toward the art of textiles. They had an exhibit by nuno of Japan last year.

When I visited to drop off some thing for the store my hubby went into the permanent exhibit and took some pictures. If I know what something is I have labelled it.

sheep plaque sheep 2  This ram is the first thing you see when you go in. He is short and long.

strength testerThis is for testing the strength of wool. I am not sure if it was the fleece fibers or finished yarn.

pickerA large picker. The infeed teeth are flat. My picker is about 1/3 this size of this one but the teeth are pointy

carder carder 2 This is 2 shots of the carder. In the second picture you can see the beginnings of a second carder. There were two hooked together. You couldn’t get back far enough to take a picture of the whole thing but you can see it in the diagram below.

carding machin info carder diagram

sample carderThis is a little either model or a sample carder.

cop winder A cop winder. A cop is a larger longer package of wool on a metal spool.

loom 2 loom This is an industrial loom. It doesn’t have any treadles but I didn’t see a flying shuttle. Maybe its inside the box.

And some things that I have no idea what they are but they look interesting. I think the first one is a spinning frame and my hubby says the second one is the punch cards on an automatic loom

12243412_10156206960880527_3281772470439927932_n 12227559_10156206970655527_6741083765106202265_n 12227153_10156206961045527_4345758703388325902_n

Lastly a picture of an advertisement that was framed on the wall.

rosmond mill sign This mill is where the museum is now housed. The 2 storey building on the top right is the museum building.  The big building is now condos. I wish I had had more time. There were videos that showed how the machines work. They give you a remote so you can make them play as you go round.


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Three Months of Giveaways!

In celebration of the winter holidays and our fourth year anniversary, we are going to giveaway a bunch of fun stuff. Marilyn, Ann, Zed and I will each give something away over the next 3 months and we will also giveaway a few spots in our online classes. Just to let everyone know, we did change the format of the Wet Felting for Beginners online class so you can take the class at any time, at your convenience and have unlimited access to the course material. So keep your eyes peeled for all the giveaways and let the excitement begin!

For my giveaway, I created a sketchbook or notebook cover that fits a 5 1/2″ x 8″ book. It is removable so once you fill up the sketchbook, you can use it for another book. This includes a sketchbook that is perfect for drawing, making lists, taking notes or whatever you would like to record in it.

Front of Sketchbook Cover

It is a felt cover that I screen printed with the deconstructed screen printing method. (I am almost finished creating my online screen printing class if you’d like to learn this method.) I then added some silk paper for flowers and green silk sari ribbons. These were stitched down by machine.

Back of Felt Sketchbook Cover

This is the back of the cover.

Inside Front Cover

For the inside flaps, I used cotton fabric that my surface design group painted, stamped, stenciled etc.

Inside Back Cover

And here is the back flap.

Felt Sketchbook Cover

So if you would like to win this felt sketchbook cover, leave a comment here on this post. I would really appreciate it if you would share this on Facebook and other social media. The last day you can sign up to win is November 26 (which is Thanksgiving here in the US). I will announce the winner on November 27th. Please make sure that you don’t leave an anonymous comment or I won’t be able to contact you.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at The Felting and Fiber Studio. We really appreciate all of you who comment, participate on the forum, write guest posts and support us in our little venture. We never would have dreamed four years ago that our community of felt and fiber artists would have grown so big with so many countries in the world represented. We are grateful and humbled by your response and support. Thank You!

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A Peek at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London 2015

Our guest artist/author/photographer today is Leonor Calaca from Felt Buddies.

If you’re in Europe and a fibre aficionado, you’ve probably heard of the Knitting & Stitching Show. It happens in a few different locations and dates in the UK, and is probably the largest fabric/fibre event in Europe when hosted in Alexandra Palace here in London.

As it happens, the Alexandra Palace (or Ally Pally as it’s also known) is only 45 minutes away, on foot, from my place; as it happens as well, I’ve been volunteering for the past two years as a member of the London Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, to work a few hours a day at a booth that serves as a hub for all such UK guilds. Not because I’m such a wonderful and helpful person, mind you, but because this means I get a free pass to come and go anytime during those 5 days (and, at £16 for entry only, I think it’s well worth my time).

Last year I got all mesmerised by the fibres and materials I saw, and almost went bankrupt. This year I decided to be good,  more sensible and buy only the things I absolutely needed, which worked to an extent. I also decided to focus more on my energy on the really good exhibitions, and that’s what I’m going to write about.

Let’s start with an embroidery. How lovely and detailed is that?

Photo 1

Art wasn’t just in 2D, the sculptures were very interesting as well.

Photo 2

A glass and wool sculpture by Helen Pailing. She aims to use remnants from the glass and wool industry and incorporate them in a way that makes them not only art, but something you can keep instead of take to a landfill.

Photo 3

The Wishing Tree by Eileen McNulty. Just look at those little details.

Photo 4

I don’t know the author of this one, but here is ‘Palace,’ made with cocoon stripping paper and silk organza. The theme of this booth was vessels.

Photo 5

Elena Thomson embroidered a sieve. Would you have thought of that? I think this would be wonderful to confuse old ladies.

Photo 6

‘Stumpwork’ by Alana Chenevix-Trench.

Photo 7

And a lovely sheep by Margarita O’Byrne.

Photo 8

Then I went to Studio Art Quilt’s Associates (SAQA) booth that just blew my mind. I had no idea these detailed works of art could be made in that technique. The theme was Food For Thought and this is ‘Mushroom Frittata’ by Jean Sredi.

Photo 9

‘Pepitas’ by Vicky Bahnhoff.

Photo 10

‘Yum! Pineapple Upside Down Cake’ by Diane Powers-Harris. Yes, this is still a quilt.

Photo 11

‘Il Mercato’ by Jeannie Moore

Photo 12

‘Elegant Edibles’ by Jennifer Day.

Photo 13

Who doesn’t love dolls?

Photo 14

This one was my favourite: what a grumpy face.

Photo 15

These two sculptures surprised me, as they’re made from a traditional paper folding technique native to the Philippines.

Photo 16 Photo 17

And I saved the best for last: a fishmongers called Kate’s Plaice! Everything you see here is either knitted or sewn, and the details just make it extraordinary.

Photo 18 Photo 19 Photo 20


The artist herself.

Photo 21

Did you go to the K&S? What caught your eye? And am I going mad for taking more time to look at art instead of yummy yarn?

Thank you Leonor for taking us on this great fibre adventure!

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