Experiments with Coarse Wool and Embellishments

Today we have a Guest Post From Cathy ‘Luvswool’

Zed and I were chatting about coarse wool fibers–which we both enjoy–and the end result of our chat was my agreement to try some wet-felting experiments with some “exotic” coarse wool she had just got from Woolknoll.  And even though I have tried many different types of wool fibers over the past couple of years, Zed’s package of fibers was quite a surprise.  Okay, how many of you have heard of Fox Sheep wool, Milk Sheep wool, Russian camel and Chubut.  The latter name is what my siblings used to call me in our “anything goes” name-calling childhood.

While in Colorado, I had gifted my four colorful pods (above) to the Breckenridge Arts Council for their silent auction. And I missed them.  So I decided to make four more pods, this time in neutrals, using the same resist I had used previously.

I also planned to add embellishment fibers, which were also contained in Zed’s package.  Although I was familiar with Bamboo and Viscose, I did not know how they might react with coarse wool fibers, so I decided to use Zed’s new e-book, The Right Fibre as my guide.  In the e-guide on fibers,  Zed clearly explains how one can go about blending fibers with each other, but also tips on which fibers might go better together.  The photos–some of them macro–clearly show the effects one might be able to achieve.
I decided to work with 4 coarse fibers I had never before felted, which were Fox Sheep wool, Karakul, Milk Sheep wool and Chubut.  As embellishments, I chose Viscose, Bamboo, Russian camel and Schappe (a type of silk fiber).
First up was the mysterious fox sheep wool, which has nothing to do with foxes and everything to do with coarse, hairy wool.  As an embellishment, I used black viscose.

Next was the Karakul, which I had heard about but really didn’t want to think about too much or too long.  This wool fiber–of course–was not the dreaded karakul you might be thinking about…phew!  I used black bamboo, which actually looks grey in the photos.

The Milk Sheep wool was a surprisingly lovely brown color and quite coarse; and I paired it with Schappe, a type of white silk.

Last but not least was the Chubut, which was very white, and I used Russian Camel as the embellishment.

To keep it all scientific, I used the same sized resist, felted for the same amount of time, and likewise with the fulling; but I did change up the size of the openings for variety.  Here is the order of most coarse to least coarse (and hairy!):  Karakul, Milk Sheep, Fox Sheep and Chubut.
Here’s what surprised me:  The Schappe, which has looked so soft and silky, turned out to be lumpy as an embellishment on the Milk Sheep wool, and I would use it again, but strictly for the build up of texture underneath other fibers. It could react differently on a softer, lower micron fiber, such as Merino wool. The Karakul shrunk the most and retained its very hairy quality, which I do like for this particular pod.  The Fox Sheep wool (white with the black viscose) turned out well, and I like the way the Viscose retained its waviness.

I did add some green wool yarn I had lying around, just for fun.

fox sheep yarn carrierThe Chubut seemed to be slightly taken over with the Russian camel, but perhaps I used too much camel as an embellishment.  It would be useful to try all four base fibers again and pair them with different types of embellishment fibers.
Here are all four pods standing nicely together.  I have even decided their fate:  a bud vase, yarn carrier, cat bomb (you may notice I added a felted cord for the wick), and gnome’s cap.  I’m not serious about the cat bomb, as I do love my kitties, but perhaps our readers will have a suggestion for use of the final unnamed pod?

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12 Responses to Experiments with Coarse Wool and Embellishments

  1. It’s so fun to see your comparisons! Thank you. I also like these wools for 3D needle felting.

    • luvswool says:

      Thanks, Karen! Yes, coarse wool fibers are terrific for needle-felting as well. When I used to do a lot of needle-felting, Romney was one of my favorite sheep’s wool.

  2. Marilyn Nelson says:

    Great experiment Cathy! I love the new pods. I’m discovering the coarser fibers are finding their way into my projects more often these days. 🙂 the cat bomb wick looks like a kitty’s tail.

    • luvswool says:

      Thanks, Marilyn! Glad you like the new pods. It’s funny how once you start using coarse fibers, they grow on you. Some can be more difficult to felt than merino, but their sturdiness is necessary in so many felt projects. A cat’s tail–of course!

  3. ruthlane says:

    Great experiments Cathy! It is wonderful to try new wool and embellishments to see what will happen. Your pods turned out very well.

  4. luvswool says:

    Thank you, Ruth! I always enjoy experimenting with different fibers because of the unexpected.
    I never seem to felt the same project in exactly the same way…always adding a bit of this and that. That’s how I cook, too! ;-))

  5. Leonor says:

    Great experiments, Cathy! I like your approach and am happy to see someone enjoying coarser wools, as opposed to demonising them 🙂

    The pods came out lovely, and may I suggest the cat bomb be an actual cat bomb… with catnip? Kitty would be certainly trapped into playing with it for hours 😀

    • luvswool says:

      Thanks so much, Leonor! I’ve always enjoyed using the coarser wool fibers, whether needle-felting or wet-felting. One of my favorites is Navajo churro, which is readily available in the USA. It was fun experimenting with unfamiliar fibers, some of which I would gladly try again.
      Great idea to add catnip to the bomb. I usually give my two kitties the needle-felted balls I make with catnip stuffed inside, but a cat bomb would be an exciting new toy!

    • Leonor says:

      If you do do the catnip thing, take a photo and show us 😀 As for fibres, I do like the coarser ones for the core!

  6. Lyn says:

    I like reading about experimentation and your new pods turned out lovely!

    • luvswool says:

      Thanks, Lyn. It’s always fun to try new experiments, especially when they turn out well…(which is not always the case for me!)

  7. Great experiments. Pods are always fun to make.

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