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A Little Spinning for My Felt

A Little Spinning for My Felt

I managed this week to get one set of rolags spun and plyed.  I decided to do wildflower sari silk first. It’s the mostly yellow one. Here’s the link to making the rolags if you missed it. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/10/26/sari-silk-and-spinning/

I spun a single first, naturally. It took a little bit to get used to the silk. The silk is much harder to draft but mixed with the wool it wasn’t too bad. You have to accept you are not going to get a really smooth yarn. You are going to get a great texture.

Next, I did what is the most meditative part of spinning for me. I made a center-pull ball by hand. If you are in a hurry or you have lots to do then a ball winder is the way to go. But I really do enjoy this part. I use a little piece of painter’s tape to make sure I don’t lose the center yarn, while I am winding. Do you enjoy doing something that other people seem to dread doing?

 

Then the fastest part, plying.

It’s interesting that when it was a single I thought it was a bit dull and muddy but after plying it seems to be brighter and shinier. I really like it. It has lots of colour and so much texture. it will be great as an embellishment on my felt.

 

I haven’t decided if I will make it into a center-pull ball or a skein for storage.

Experimental Archaeology – Swanskin

Experimental Archaeology – Swanskin

I am lucky enough to live in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, England (known affectionately by locals as Stur). One of our Town’s claims to fame is our Watermill. There has been a Watermill on the river Stour here for at least 1000 years. The original mill was a Grist Mill – that is for grinding corn, but in the early 1600s a Fulling (or Tucking) Mill was built adjacent to the Grist Mill.
This was largely to facilitate the greater production of a fabric which had been produced in and around Stur since the 1570s. This fabric was called Swanskin. It was a tough, course white woollen fabric, made from locally spun and woven wool, which was then scoured, fulled and the surface teazed and fulled again. Fishermen working out of Newfoundland, many of whom were recruited from Stur, greatly prized the Swanskin for its all-weather, waterproof qualities, as did the British Army and Navy.
Originally the fulling would have been done by fullers treading the fabric in troughs filled with all sorts of nasty stuff, including urine. Once the fulling mill was built this hard work was done mechanically. The woven fabric, in its troughs of nastiness, was hammered by large wooden stocks which were driven by gears from the waterwheel. Eventually the fulled cloth was hung out to dry along the river bank, stretched out on tenter frames by tenterhooks.
A report about Manufacturing in Dorset dated around 1812 reads:

“There is a manufactory in the neighbourhood of Shaftesbury of a kind of flannel called swanskin, which is a coarse white woollen cloth, used for soldiers’ clothing, and made from 18d. to 2s. a yard; but this is of little consequence to Shaftesbury, the chief trade in this article being carried on at Sturminster Newton, where about 1200 people are employed in it, and where between 4000 and 5000 pieces, containing 35 yards in length, in a piece, yard wide, are annually made.

At present the woollen manufactures are almost confined to Sturminster and Lyme Regis, at which latter place broad-cloth and flannels are made in considerable quantities.

At Sturminster there are four or five clothiers, and about 300 weavers; sometimes 700 or 800 people are employed in the manufactory of Swansdown, (sic.) but the trade is not so considerable as was formerly the case.”

In early 2016 I was asked by the curator of our town’s Museum and Mill Society (now known as the Sturminster Newton Heritage Trust) if I could produce a sample of Swanskin for the Museum since it appears that there is no example of actual swanskin now in existence.  As Swanskin was such an important part of the town’s history, the Museum wanted to create an exhibit for future reference.  This I did, so far as I could, and I also wrote them a report on the process, which I repeat here – it was of course written for the edification of members of the general public, most of whom would not be conversant with spinning and weaving terms, so please don’t think I’m trying to “teach granny to suck eggs”.

“Swanskin – Experimental Archaeology

“In order to try to recreate the processes in the manufacture of Swanskin some research was carried out by Kathleen Sanderson (a member of the Dorset Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers). It appeared that the likely breed of sheep from which the fleece was obtained was the Portland. This breed was found in fact over much of Dorset in the 17th Century.
“Kathleen found however that the fleece from today’s much improved breed of Portland sheep was finer and more delicate than would have been the case in 1600. She therefore blended Exmoor fleece with the Portland to obtain as near as possible the coarser, more hardwearing fibres originally used.
Originally the wool would have been spun “in the grease” – that is still containing (inter alia) the natural lanolin. The resultant yarn would have been woven in this state so that the resultant cloth would have had to be washed and treated with fuller’s earth (scoured) to remove the oils and other detritus like plant material and insect life.

Spun and Plied Yarn, with fibres

“The sample shown was spun after scouring because this had been necessary to facilitate the blending of the two fleeces.
The yarn was plied and then twill woven – that is instead of the basic over one, under one, over one – of plain weave, the weft was taken over two and under two on the first pass then over one under two over two on the next. This results in characteristic diagonal lines in the weave.
“When “fulled” twill woven fabric becomes denser than would a fabric with plain weave.

“I wove the sample in this fashion on a frame loom. After the weaving, the sample was wetted and fuller’s earth rubbed into it on both sides, just to make sure that all the grease and oils had been removed. This was rinsed out, the sample soaped and rubbed by hand to start the felting or fulling process.
“This process would have been carried out by “Fullers” or “Walkers” in the 11th and 12th centuries. Though they would have done it by treading or walking on the fabric in wooden troughs rather than using their hands. At Sturminster Fulling Mill swanskin was fulled at the Mill using water power to move fulling stocks. These hammered the fabric until it was fulled or felted sufficiently to make it water repellent.
“The sample was fulled in a washing machine, first at a temperature of 40° with a very hard rubber ball acting as a fulling stock. This was repeated once more and then at a temperature of 90° until the sample was fully felted. When the sample was almost dry it was ironed with a steam iron on both sides and then fully dried.
The original swanskin cloth would of course have been dried on tentering frames in the open air.

“Once the Sample was dry it was brushed with a flick carder (the modern equivalent of using a frame covered in teasels) on one side only in order to raise a nap on the fabric.”

The mill was open to the public again this year, after having had to be closed during lockdowns.  It is possible that, during the first lockdown, some of you may have seen reports about the fact that the mill reverted to milling flour which was provided to local bakers.  Many people over here took to making their own bread so that there was a general shortage of bread flour, and, since approaches were received from people from all over the globe trying to buy bread flour from our miller, I assume that this was the same almost everywhere. 

I have added below some internet links about the Mill and our Society (Sorry – Trust!), and some of the news stories from last year –  Google has lots more.

Oh and a couple of my felt paintings of the mill – adding a bit of artist’s licence!

https://sturminsternewton-museum.co.uk/mill/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-52369075

https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-flour-shortage-ancient-mill-turned-museum-grinds-back-to-life/e1c0fe1b-9ff5-42ec-bbcf-d311325a5f0a

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/29/uk/english-mill-flour-resumes-production-scli-gbr-intl/index.html

Sari Silk and Spinning.

Sari Silk and Spinning.

I ordered some sari silk a while back as part of a larger order from World Of Wool. I am ordering wholesale so I ordered 1 kg of each of the colours I wanted. the first 2 look very similar here but the first has a lot of green and red and the second has quite a lot of black. I had expected the pink one to be much more purple. It is called Royal Robe. Every batch is different, so you are always taking a chance. It would be great if they took new pictures for each batch but I suppose that would be a big hasssle for them. And they do warn you so no complaining.

That is a lot of sari silk.

I did make up some small bags of it and sold them on the guild’s Facebook page. I will offer it again soon. I still have lots. I haven’t played with it much at all. So last weekend knowing it would be rainy at the market, so slow and I would be bored, I grabbed some of the silk and a spindle to try spinning it. I brought an older cheaper spindle because I knew I would probably be doing as much dropping as spinning. I was right. It is very short and very frustrating to try to spin, especially since I usually do more of a long draw. I tried for a while then gave up and plied the tiny amount I had spun.

Ta-Da…

 

I told you it was small. Here is a close up.

It is very pretty and shiny but I will not be spinning more this way.

Next was to try blending some with some wool.

I picked these two shades of merino. I think they are mallard and duck egg. They seem to be the same colour but have different saturations of the dye.

And these 3 sari silks to blend in. Looking now I see I picked the 3 primaries.

First I did the turquoise lagoon. I did a layer of the dark, then the light and then the sari silk. I carded it several times to blend it and then rolled it into a rollag

It is very subtle but I think it will add some shin and interest when I spin it.

Next, I did the Salsa, I did the same thing a layer of each of the wools and then some sari silk

And lastly the wildflower

Now I have to spin them up. They are not the neatest rollags but I think they will work. I will do some recarding if I have to but I hope I don’t have to.

Fiber Poker Challenge from the Third Participant

Fiber Poker Challenge from the Third Participant

So far you have seen the Poker Challenge offerings from Ann and Jan. We are all members of the same Guild. I accepted to do the spinning challenge only.

My cards were
Colour – pastels only
Fibre – must include mohair
Technique – lock spinning
Structure – lace weight

I had some really lovely, top quality, pink, super-fine merino, and some pale blue mohair locks. The merino spins into lace weight very easily, almost wanted to spin that way on its own. The thing I found most difficult was lock spinning. 

Research online showed a whole range of techniques, so it dawned on me that lock spinning is what you make of it. The mohair was really slippery and a bit of a challenge to maintain control, but the results were a happy surprise. I decided to ply the mohair with the lace merino to give integrity to the yarn. Once plied the locks on the mohair opened, but were held in place with the merino and the end result was a luxurious, soft, lustrous yarn.  Unfortunately, I am not the photographic genius that Jan is and even though I chastised my camera for not using a flash to show the gorgeous soft pink and sky blue of the final product, it ignored me.

So, I took it to the next step and did a purpose made yarn of my own design.

I ordered some wonderful dyed Teeswater first clip from my favourite wool dyer. It arrived all clean, soft, shiny and tangle free; this is a special treat that I allow myself every once in a while. I used this for the lace weight ply and used some of my own dyed mohair locks for the lock spun component. I have to say the Teeswater wool is exquisite. I flick card it open on both ends and remove any tangles by cutting the knots out. This gives me a staple of approximately 15 inches.

This was spun as close to lace weight as possible. And I know my wheel needs to be fixed, I’m trying to find a craftsman/woman who can do that, any ideas??  If you look closely at the first hook you will see the groove that is nearly cutting through the metal.

The mohair is not carded at all and only pulled apart a little bit to keep the lock integrity intact. Unfortunately, I have only a picture of similar locks. I used up all the others before remembering to take out my camera. The lustre of mohair is amazing and the softness of kid mohair is delicious. Adult mohair is not my favourite fibre because as the animal matures the fibre gets so coarse it can’t be used for next to skin projects and it loses its crimp and becomes a misery to spin.

The mohair was then plied with the lace weight Teeswater to give this yarn.

My plan, among several others I’ve discussed with you over the past few months, is to weave this into a winter stole or shawl. The Teeswater is long enough to take the abrasion of being in a warp, so to that end, I made the leftover laceweight into a fine three ply cable yarn. This keeps the colour grouping together. If I were to do this as a true three ply the colours would tend to get muddy and I wanted to avoid that. I think I have enough for the project.

There are eight skeins that weigh 645 gms. If not I can always spin more of the Teeswater and fiddle the design a bit. Motivation is now the issue. You all amaze me with the energy you have, the creativity you show and your unflagging drive, thank you for showing me a whole ‘other world of fibre art.

Playing with my new toy: English wool combs

Playing with my new toy: English wool combs

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a pair of English wool combs. They were sold out at the time but the people in the shop were kind enough to allow me to backorder. Now all I had to do was wait a few days and let the spiky goodness arrive at my doorstep!

Finally, they were here.

 

Leonor of Eleanor Shadow holds a pair of English combs and looks chuffed

 

It occurs to me that these would make great Wolverine claws for Halloween, were I in the mood to risk self-injury… Seriously, despite knowing these are pointy, sharp objects, it still surprised me to find out exactly how sharp they were in a slight moment of distraction. Note to self: don’t daydream when handling wool combs.

If you’re not sure what wool combs are for, these brilliant tools are used to process fleeces for spinning. They work by separating, aligning and combing the wool locks, whilst also getting rid of any vegetable matter (VM). The end result is a fluffy and lovely cloud that you’re supposed to carefully diz off the combs, ending up with a longish sort of roving.

 

Texel cross wool locks on English combs, ready for processing

 

Ideally, you’ll place the locks facing the same direction, which in my case was cut side nearest the tines, ends on the outside.
These are lovely locks from a Texel cross lamb’s first shear’s fleece. I washed it myself. They’re so soft and all I want to do is bury my face in them.. (which I definitely have. Don’t judge.)

 

Eleanor Shadow uses English wool combs to process some wool locks

 

Next, you carefully start teasing the tips of the locks apart with the other comb, which will transfer a bit of fibre to said comb at each pass. As you keep doing this, the longer staples of wool will move and the shortest bits will remain on the clamped comb. You’re meant to discard these short bits, but I keep them to make dryer balls.

 

English wool combs processing wool on a table

A hand showing wool waste after using English wool combs

 

You can see above that the fibre left behind retains some VM. I don’t mind it because it’s clean, and won’t be seen once the dryer balls are covered in commercially processed wool top. Waste not, want not.

You will do this transferring of fibre from one comb to the other until you’re happy with how the wool looks. The one below was on the third pass.

 

Side view of wool on English wool combs, after processing

 

There was still a tiny bit of VM but I don’t mind.

Since I wasn’t planning on spinning this wool, I didn’t diz it off the comb, I simply pulled it all off  together very gently, so it all came off at the same time.
After 30 minutes I had a few clouds.

 

A few soft clouds of processed wool on a table

 

I’ll be gathering a lot of this fluff into a bag and, once I have enough, I’ll card it on my drum carder and make batts to sell to spinners and felters. Lamb wool really is like a cloud and I’m loving playing with it.

To end this post in my usual tradition, here’s a completely unrelated photo I took a few days ago that I find amusing. This was on a building I happened to pass by here in Edinburgh.

Plaque on a wall saying On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened

So, what’s your current favourite fibre utensil?

Spinning Poker Challenge

Spinning Poker Challenge

Every summer my weavers and spinners guild does a fibre poker challenge. You can choose weaving, spinning or felting. I am doing spinning and felting. This post is about the spinning challenge. I haven’t started my felting one yet.

In these challenges, they make up 4 decks of cards. The cards for spinning are Fiber, Colour, Type of Yarn and General Design. You pick one from each to get your poker hand. You are allowed to return one and draw another.

Mine are

Fibre: surprise us.

Colour: dark rich colours

Type of Yarn: thick and thin

General Design: include locks

I decided I wanted to try spinning some of the silk hankies I have. these looked like dark rich colours. Well, not that dark but not pastel.

I looked up what was the recommended way of prepping them for spinning. It was to poke a hole in the middle and stretch them out. Most of the drafting is done in the stretching out. I did 2 of each colour. They stretch quite far. I am sure I could have stretched them at least twice as long but I didn’t want my yarn that thin.

I

I also have to do thick and thin. I decided the easiest way to do that was to use the required locks to create the thick parts. I think these are Bluefaced Leicester.

I don’t have a spinning wheel. I like to spin small amounts, so I use a drop spindle I have quite a few.

 

After I finished the 4 silk hankies I made it into a center-pull ball. My original intention was to ply one end against the other.

But then I changed my mind. I spun some purple silk top to use as the other ply.

I made it into a center-pull ball as well. I put one small ball on my thumb and one on a finger. I used a little painter’s tape to keep the outside thread from unravelling as I will be pulling from the center, then I can control how fast it pulls out. I like painter’s tape as it’s just sticky enough to hold but comes off easily without grabbing and pulling the fibres and doesn’t leave any sticky behind. If I was going to store the ball I would tie the two ends together instead.

           

Somehow I guessed right and had just a little more of the second simple single than the first fancy single.

That’s my laptop lid so as you can see there wasn’t much extra.

I wound it off into a skein. It looks a little wobbly at first but it needs to have a bath to let the spin show what it’s really like.  I used the small extra piece to tie the skein in 4 places. I wanted the 4 ties because I am very good at tangling skeins.

 

Here it is after its bath and hang to dry. I didn’t use any weight to try to set the yarn, I wanted it to be its natural self. I am quite happy I managed to get a nice balanced spin. I took to pictures flipping it over so you can see both sides.

I spread it out more and took a close-up. I am really please with how this came out. It was difficult to get the locks in because naturally, the twist wanted to go to the thinnest part.

 

I hope you like it too. It was a bit of a challenge but that’s the point, get you doing something you wouldn’t normally do.  I could have wished for some action shots but it’s hard to spin and hold the fibre and hold the camera. It puts me back to wondering why on earth my prehistoric ancestors got rid of the prehensile tail, it would be so handy.

Silk Thrums – what DO you do with them??

Silk Thrums – what DO you do with them??

Silk thrums are gorgeous, jewel-like bits of temptation, rich in colour, shiny and sparkly, promising all sorts of lovely uses that will amaze everyone. Or not. Silk thrums are one part of the left overs from the sari silk industry. This is what can’t be woven on the loom and has to be cut off. I would like to see how saris are woven to understand the way the wastage is generated, it still puzzles me, but silk thrums are available in vast quantities to crafters all over the world. The problem with sari silk, and its a huge problem, is how the silk is dyed. There do not appear to be industry standards for colour fastness. Silk is a tricky fiber on a good day, so if dyers can’t determine dye acidity, water temperature, water hardness, or can’t properly degum the silk, the dye will run. I decided to try to use this characteristic of sari thrums to an advantage to see if there could be any benefit to be had.

I took a brilliant red thrum, trimmed the ribbon end and trimmed some silk fibers. The ribbon was soaked in hot water to leech out the dye. The colour saturation was evident as soon as the ribbon was in the jar. The water was totally red, but there is no way to do any metrics on this because the original silk was dyed with an unknown quantity of dye. All this is just a “see if this works” experiment. I snipped a tiny quantity of silk fiber, set it aside to mix with the wool roving I had chosen for dying.

I spun the rest of the silk threads into a single ply yarn. I’m taking a liberty in calling this a single ply, it is in fact a multiple thread yarn. The sari silk is made up of extremely fine thread. I respun those into a single thread with added twist. I can’t show them to you because my camera just can’t pickup the delicacy of those threads.

It was difficult to spin at first, because the fibers are nearly 36 inches long and tended to get tangled. I’ll try a different method next time, but it is possible to spin this into a reasonably nice yarn. The single yarn is plied against some of the merino top that is the basis of the dye bath test. I’ll use this later as part of the dye test.

When I plied the single merino wool with the single red silk they worked well together This is the most durable, hard to break fiber I have ever handled. Silk really is amazing.

I presoaked the remaining merino, drained, opened it along a mid-seam, sprinkled the snipped silk threads all along the centre. I then rolled the merino into a tube and wrapped it with the ribbon from the soak jar. This was set in an acid bath and topped up with the dye water from the soak jar. I use an oven to dye my wool. I cooked this for about two hours at 100C/220F. I expected a more vibrant red, not the pale orange, but this is an experiment, so expectations have to go on the back burner.

 

Spinning wheel Birthday-Xmass pressent arived

Spinning wheel Birthday-Xmass pressent arived

Electric Eel Wheel 6.0

Last year during the early covid of 2020 Glenn was browsing Kickstarter, likely looking for no-fun-train-board-games which he enjoys. This time he found an electric spinning wheel looking for funding. I had a tiny portable electric wheel from the same developer which worked great but I found the tiny bobbins frustratingly tiny! Glenn was sure a bigger bobbin and a upgraded motor strength would be a perfect x-mass/birthday present.

 Electric Eel Wheel (EEW) 6.0 was described as a production eSpinner that offers large bobbins, quiet operation and could both spin and ply. It was developed by Maurice Ribble (his company is called Dreaming Robots).

(what a cool logo!!!)

The Kickstarter campaign was active May 21 2020 – Jun 20 2020 (30 days) and 1,791 backers pledged $445,892 to get the project going by pre-ordering EEW 6.0’s. Maurice was very good at keeping everyone up to date with development, testing, and manufacturing. He asked for impute for the instruction booklets and made instruction Videos too. (He has made 114 update videos so far on you tube.) if you missed the Kickstarter but would like one too he is selling them on his website. https://www.dreamingrobots.com/

Earlier this month a mysterious box arrived at our postal box, it was a very sturdy box and seemed to be quite full of something…. Could it be? YES!!!

The Unboxing:

1-2 Well packaged, a good weight, there must be something interesting in here.

3 Excellent packaging, but I may have opened the bottom end.

4 I wonder what this is?

5-6 Oh my! Is this the Lazy Kate parts?

7-8 Six bobbins and a flyer,

9-10 and the base with power cord, foot on/off switch and battery holder.

This is obviously a box with no bottom it just keeps adding more stuff to the table!!!

11 No I am mistaken there is a bottom!! How did it all fit in there?

Glenn took the parts away to do the assembly but got distracted watching something on his computer, after a couple “is it done yet?’s” it was and I got to try it out.

I think there are 3 of us in the guild that have received this wonderful new wheel, Angela T, Terry N and myself. Angela was fast and had hers unboxed, assembled and photographed before mine even made it home from the post box. I posted pictures of the box, its contence and a video of the first spinning on my new wheel in the guild Facebook group. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, lightweight, electric wheel with a big bobbin and orifice, you may want to check this out. I hope we will be able to resume socials sometime this summer, I am suspect all three of us will be bringing our new wheels. (There is a battery you can get so you don’t need a long extension cord!!)

12 test driving new electric wheel

12 Here is the video. (i am working on finding a format will keep trying)

I was working on this post, had only spun a bit, when I finally got through to my Doctors’ office to ask questions about the Covid vaccine and was advised just get whatever was on offer. So next call was to one of the local pharmacy to ask more questions and inquire how long the waiting list was. I was extremely surprised to get the offer of a cancellation later the same day. I did mention I have not done well with flu shots in the past and have an odd assortment of allergies. So, I fretted until it was time to drive over for the Shot. I wound up with the AstraZeneca shot with a second coming in August. The Pharmacist did a fabulous job with the injection. However, within 3 hours of the injection I started to feel all over achy, nauseous, headache…. and crawled off to bed with my plastic bucket. It took about 3 days to climb back out of bed with only a stiff shoulder, exhaustion and bouts of wanting to go back to bed. With that much of a reaction, it defiantly means I got a dose that works.

13-14 having fun

I have had a chance to spin a bit more and am enjoying quiet motor, large bobbins and the adjustable speeds. I haven’t tried plying on it yet, but suspect that it will be as easy spinning is.

Some Spinning

Some Spinning

I haven’t had much time for felting with the puppy and lambs. I did manage a little spinning.

I got some nice tweed roving from World Of Wool. I think they will make nice hats and accessories. Then I wanted something to spin so I thought I would try these.

This is the pink. The dark flecks are viscose. It drafts nicely and makes a really nice yarn.

And the grey. Over-dying them might be interesting too. The viscose won’t take the wool dye.

They were both nice so I thought I would try combining them.  I pulled off a thin strip of each colour and drafted them together. This is the single. I am winding it off the spindle into a centre pull ball so I can ply one end against the other.

and this was the result.

 

I think I like the two spun together best.

I am a slow spinner. I do it because I enjoy it but I don’t want a lot of anything. I am not making sweaters or even socks. I will use them for some decoration on some felt, probably.

This is is what I am currently spinning, some yellow for the glitzy line at World of wool. It has some super bright triloble nylon in it so it has lots of sparkle.

Yellow, isn’t a colour I have a lot of in my stash but I like how this is turning out. Surprisingly the multi-coloured sparkle tames the yellow. Do you spin? have you thought of it. It’s fun, portable and you can make some great yarns for decorating your felt.

 

 

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Day 2

After leaving the hedgehog overnight to dry on the air filter, he had successfully completed his mission to dry.  

I could now begin to add a bit more width to his cheeks. Next, add his coat. I chose an Icelandic fleece using the outer guard hair part of the dual coat as the bristles and bits of the inner coat to help space and increase adhesion of the guard hairs.

27 time to consider the face and coat

I separated the tog (outer coat of guard hairs), which is less inclined to felt when wet, from the undercoat which is soft and crimpy. To separate the two types of coats, hold the tips and base firmly and gently pull away from each other. Sometimes it takes a bit of a rhythmic tugging to free the tog. Once separated, I could use the tog to start building the outer prickles for the hedgehog.

I used a 38 star needle for most of the felting (except the ears which I also use the fake clover tool with T40’s loaded). I lay the guard hairs down, attaching across the locks then laid in a bit of the under coat to increase adherence. I worked the needles at low angles to almost parallel to the fibers catching a few fibers in the barbs at a time and pushing them into the layer of felt over the soap bar.

I added a bit of the under coat to give extra adhesion.

I then folded up the tips which had been pointing away from the fibers I was adding to.  Again securing them into the under layer of felt above the soap.

Occasionally I would add a bit of the under coat to the folded tip side too.

The order of addition was backwards to the layering I usually do when I want a coat to lie naturally. Since I wanted this to stand up, I needed to increase the density of the coat so it would not lie down. This time I starting from around the face (in white) then switching to the darker part of the coat, worked back towards the butt. I left the butt ends a bit shorter than the tips as I laid them in.

Once I got his coat on, I brushed and lifted the ends with the mini carder (dog brush). This fluffed him up nicely.

He is a cute little hedgehog! Here is a shot of the underside so you can see the bar of soap which is the base.

45 the soap base

Laying in the coat which is quite tightly packed took most of the day. I finished him after dinner and did the fluffing. So this would not be a economically viable option for mass production. There are a couple other options that may work faster such as using a section of the washed fleece and attaching it to the underfelt more as a blanket rather than a few locks at a time. I suspect it would not give the density that adding locks as I did allowed.

Finishing touches

Poor little guy, doesn’t suspect his life will be full of wetness then getting dry just in time for the next wetness to set in. I bet he would drip dry quicker if he could hang up.  I should add a “rope” for this soap.  I looked first at a piece of Kumohimo but the cotton fiber seemed wrong.

46 kumohimo option

So, I took the brush waste from the mini carder and added some of the washed locks and drafted it out. By adding a good deal of over twist with one of my spindles, I quickly had a two-ply yarn that could be mistaken for a rope.

I added the rope with a bit of needle felting along the edges of the underside of the soap-hedgehog using a bit of the under coat and pulled apart bits of the extra yarn to help secure it.

50 adding the rope to the soap

Ah, that’s better a way to dry faster and a loop handle so you don’t have to pick him up by his nose!

51 “please don’t pick me up by my nose!”

Last thing left to do. It is Valentine ’s Day after all, so He needs a Heart! I hunted around, found my bag of various red coriadales, choosing Nutmeg, and hand blending it with some of the reddish brown undercoat from the Icelandic fleece. (Colour should never be flat! Unless you are doing something graphic)

A few quick stabs and I had the shape. Now to add it to the right spot. Hmm, there is not much wool on the underbelly of this hedgehog! So, I was very careful in the angle of felting. The needle does sink into the soap fine but leaves a stinky soap smell on the needle and a bit on the wool as it emerges. (Just a warning – make sure you keep the angle of entrance and exit the same or the soap will want to break your needle)

55 “the Hedgehog is in the bag!!”

Now I just have to wait to find out if Glenn likes his new shower time friend.

56 “Glenn, can you meet me in the bathroom to unwrap your valentine’s day present please?”

      57- 62  the unwrapping, he found the Heart!

Yes Success!! I will try to get a shot after his first shower experience and see how he holds up!

63 First Shower! one bedraggled hedgehog

Epilogue

There seems to be a strange moose in my bed but he does have a bag of chocolate Easter eggs so I guess he can stay! (This is Canada, you do find moose in odd places here, often in swimming pools)

E-1 What is that in my bed?

 It is normal to see the triceratops, Cthulhu (who is somewhere else today) and the Balrog in bed. The moose was a surprise so was the chocolate, he can stay.

the last word from Hedgehog:

“Oh the Humanity!!! i give you my soap so you are clean!! Now i drip!!! Oh the wetness!! Oh the horror!!!”

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