I’ve been running a felt study group and I wanted to share one of the more interesting samples I did in the group. I had some white welsh mountain sheep wool. I have no idea where I got it it was raw and I have had it for years because I didn’t know what to do with it.
The Welsh Mountain sheep is usually white with a white face with no wool on forehead or cheeks and white legs with no wool below the joint. Females are polled but rams usually have curved horns, although some are polled. The fleece is thick and moderately long and the tails are not normally docked.
Breeders give a high priority to hardiness, milking ability, mothering quality and lamb survival. (Lambing percentage can be 130%, which rises to 180% under favourable conditions on improved pastures.) It was not always thus; the 18th-century English agriculturist Arthur Young described the Welsh Mountain sheep as “the most despicable of all types” and a judge at an agricultural show in the 1880s described it as “a diminutive ill-shapen animal with its shaggy coat more reminiscent of hair than of wool”
I had a shoebox sized amount. As you can see not the nicest looking stuff, a bit like a horse’s mane.
I washed it in a laundry bag with some dish soap.
It took 2 washes but it came out a lovely white, white horse but white.
The locks average about 10 inches long.
I weighed out 25 grams and divided it into 4 and carded it into little batts. Each batt would be one layer of the sample.
The samples were all laid out 10×10 inches for easy calculation of shrinkage. At this point, I was skeptical that it would felt at all, it is so much like stong, straight hair
The piece was rubbed and rolled to felt and then rolled on a textured mat and scrunched for the fulling. Throwing doesn’t work well with such a small piece.
Much to my surprise, this is the final result. It’s a bit wonky but that’s down to my hand carding
It’s about 40% shrinkage and it is rock solid. The most I got of any of my samples. It is rock solid. I tried to felt it more but it wouldn’t budge. All the samples were made with 25grams of wool. It makes me wonder about people that say they get 50% shrinkage on their felt protects. Are they measuring differently or are they using very thin layouts? I could see this felting more if I used half the amount of wool. so if I made a sample 20inches by 20 inches with the same wool I would get a higher shrinkage rate. What do you think?