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New Felting Supplies

New Felting Supplies

After finally finishing my inventory the other week, I made a list of all the colours and breeds of wool I was low on and ordered some new supplies from World of Wool. As usual, I added a few things to my order which weren’t on the list, but the more you order each time, the more you save on postage, right? πŸ™‚Β  I ordered a few natural white wool tops which I haven’t tried before, left to right: Whiteface Woodland, Dorset Horn and German Eider.

white topsI’ve had a dark Brown Corriedale and a few different types of Jacob before, so I added some (Top to Bottom) Grey Corriedale, Grey Jacob and because I couldn’t resist, brown baby Alpaca Tops.

topsI also bought a few things I thought a lot of people might be interested in. I’ve seen Broken Merino Tops listed before, and thought they were probably what they sounded like, and they are. They look like what I’d imagine is left at the bottom of the bags or boxes when the nice part of the top has been sold: short pieces a few inches long, a bit crumpled and a bit messed up and separated. But not felted or matted at all. I ran some through my drum carder then used it in some blends for felted soap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were a couple of wool noils listed, which I’ve never seen before. There was Bluefaced Leicester Noil, and Black Finnish Noil. They both looked like they are probably what is left over after the wool has been carded into tops. Because they are both quite fine soft wools, even these noils feel soft, although there is a bit of vegetable matter in there too. This is the Bluefaced Leicester one:

BFLAnd this is the Black Finnish noil:

FinnI thought they’d be good for some extra texture and perfect for using in natural wool texture felt, so the better quality/more expensive wool isn’t wasted. I think these were both around Β£1 for 100g. And since I was going a bit mad with the order, I thought I’d get some Merino Burrs. They looked softer than nepps which I never have much luck with, and they do feel a lot softer, and flatter and not as tight/hard as nepps.

burrsI’ve added these to the Wool and Animal Fibres Gallery, along with a few other new photos.

Keeping Track of Supplies

Keeping Track of Supplies

We’ve talked a few times about how we store our felting and craft supplies, but how do you keep track of what you have so you know when you’re running low? Do you have a system? I don’t have enough room to keep the whole amount of my wool and fibre supplies out, so I usually keep some out to use…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA… and the rest ‘spare’ in bags (or pillow cases!) out of the way in cupboards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis often leads to me running out of certain breeds or colours, or in some cases, ordering twice because I forget that I checked before the last time I ordered. I decided to do an inventory of all my supplies and stock this week, so I know exactly what I have, then I can try to find a way to keep a better track of it all. I thought the easiest way to do this, would be to put an old sheet down on the floor, get everything out…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA… make lists …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand weigh it all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had some Word documents with lists of what I usually use from the last time I tried to be better organised, so I started with those and did print outs for my supplies and also for what is ‘spare’. I decided I’d start with my ‘natural’ wools and do the dyed wools and fibres another day. I have my natural wools split into lights and darks, and I also separate the commercial tops from the locks, scoured and carded wools. I know it sounds like a lot of messing about, but it is easier for finding what I want with limited space.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wasn’t thinking when I started with the light colours. I weighed everything first, then added to the supplies I keep out if they were getting low. But when I did the dark colours, if any of the supplies were low, I added to them before writing down the weight, so I didn’t have lots of scribbled out numbers or have to do two lots of weighing πŸ™‚

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, now I have huge lists with the weights of all my supplies, and spare supplies, do you have any tips or advice about how to keep track of it all better? The only thing I can think of is to weigh the supplies again after each use and also the spares each time I get more out.

UPDATE: I have uploaded a couple of Word documents, altered from the lists I made doing my natural wool supplies inventory, in case anyone wants to use them for themselves. They are in tables, but are easy to alter to suit you. For a list of Commercial wool tops in different breeds, click here then click the link to open the Word doc. For a list of scoured, washed and raw wools, locks and fleeces, click here for the Word doc attachment.

Natural Wools and Bamboo

Natural Wools and Bamboo

I only managed to get photos of two of the things I’ve been working on lately, it’s been really dark again and we don’t have many hours of daylight anyway at this time of year. Both of these pieces were made using natural wools and bamboo fibres as embellishment. This first piece has a base made with a variety of brown and grey scoured wools and natural wool tops that I carded into a batt. On top of that are twists of grey merino with white bamboo top. When it was almost felted, I cut and rolled and folded, then fulled to get the texture and effect I wanted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis next piece was made with brown Finnish wool for the base,Β  twists of dark brown Corriedale and black bamboo were positioned on top. This was also folded and fulled to get the shape I wanted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been given the chance to do my first craft fair in a couple of weeks. I was wondering if anyone has any advice or tips for doing fairs?

Recent Things

Recent Things

I made some mixed white wool batts on my drum carder recently. I like to use different wool breeds together because they felt differently to each other so you get interesting results and it’s different every time. I made 3 batts altogether and used Lincoln, 23 mic Merino, 18 mic Merino, Norwegian, Texel, Cheviot, Devon, Teeswater and Shetland wool tops.Β  I also added in some carded mixed lambswool and Falkland fleece for texture, and Border Leicester, Mohair curls, Bluefaced Leicester, Wensleydale, and Alpaca for crimp and curl. I also added some silk for extra shine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought I’d use the batts as the inspiration to put together another wool and fibre pack, using white/natural as the theme. I added some cotton scrim and some of the ‘luxury’ embellishment fibres I have: Bamboo staple fibre, Egyptian cotton top, Ingeo, Banana, Ramie, Flax and Milk protein fibre. And also some silk fibres: silk threads and throwster’s waste, silk carrier rods (don’t they look so ugly before they’re soaked and separated?!) and one of my favourites, silk noil. I love the way it felts, but I also love the way it smells and sounds as it’s separated and stretched out πŸ™‚

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI went to Abakhan on Wednesday for some supplies (they were out of delrin clips!) and I couldn’t resist getting some gorgeous georgette fabric in a few designs. This is one of them:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also couldn’t resist the braiding, so got 3 designs:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hadn’t had chance to do much over the last few weeks so I decided to make time on Friday and laid out and felted a nuno felt piece with one of the new fabrics I bought. I knew I should have added some wool around the edges of the fabric, but I laid it out upside down, with the fabric on the bottom and knew I’d mess up if I tried to flip it πŸ™‚

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI picked colours from the fabric to make a muti coloured patchwork back:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt textured really nicely:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Notebook Covers

Notebook Covers

This first notebook cover that I finished this week took ages to make. My temperamental sewing machine keeps refusing to catch the bobbin thread with the needle. Occasionally I can force it to, then it runs for a while, then I go to turn the piece I’m working on and realise it was just making sewing noises and everything I thought I’d just sewn is loose πŸ™Β Β  I kept going back to this until it was finished, then put the machine away so it can’t annoy me anymore. I had a collection of felt pieces I’d made with natural coloured wools and plant fibres. None of them were big enough for notebook covers and either too thick or too thin for coin purses, so I thought I’d make a few natural coloured collage notebook covers. Or just one as it turned out. I used some unbleached calico as the backing fabric to sew the pieces onto. I really like the way this turned out. This is the front:

frontSome of the grey pieces are from a piece of felt I made for Karen’s Weather Challenge, using grey Gotland Locks for rolling clouds. This is the back:

backI machine stitched the top edges together, then finished off the edges and the flaps with some grey/brown thread I spun myself. It was quite chunky for a thinnish thread, but I like the way it looks.

inside AThis next notebook cover is probably the nicest one I’ve ever made. I used a piece of nuno felt that I made for my Beyond Nuno book. It has some gorgeous flowery blue synthetic fabric nuno felted onto merino tops. I made a little tie for the front from an off-cut of the nuno felt. I cut a strip about 8-10mm wide and wet it with soapy water and rolled between my palms until it formed a cord. I used a spring toggle as the fastener. This is the front:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the back:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI really love the colours and the way the fabric rippled so nicely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
SuperMacro texture:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m getting better at letting things go and listing them on etsy, but if this doesn’t sell before the listing expires, I’m keeping it!

Meet The Supplier

Meet The Supplier

We posted recently about expanding the felting and fibre community, wanting to meet the people who make it possible for us to make our fibre creations. Today we meet Amanda from Newmoor Barn.

Bertie the Angora Goat Kid leading the herdFibre 3, 2, 1
Q-3 Three types of fibre you can’t live without?
The Three fibres I can’t live without are Mohair, Zwartbles fleece and Shetland fleece
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?
The two tools I use all the time are a drum carder and spinning wheel
Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?
Spinning Art Yarn

A selection of Newmoor barn Hand Spun Art Yarn
General Questions
What is your business?
We supply ethical natural fibres to fibre artists and doll makers. Our mohair is produced by our own gorgeous herd of Angora Goats and we buy sheep fleece from local farmers and small holders paying a fair price. All of our fibre is processed by hand including, washing, dyeing and carding.
We also sell 100% Vegetarian mohair scarves and bags as well as felted wall hangings, bags and purses and a wide range of hand spun art yarns all of which I create myself. We are now increasing our range to include felting and knitting tools. We also run training and workshops in traditional crafts such as spinning and pottery.

Betty the Angora goat kid devon

What kind of items do you sell?
Wool tops and batts; loose fleece (Raw and washed); hand spun art yarn; felting and knitting tools; felting and knitting kits; scarves; bags; purses; wall hangings and natural doll hair.
We also sell hand painted gourd bird houses (grown in Devon) and natural goats milk soap.

Fleece selection newmoor barn2What do you think makes your business different from similar ones?
Our business is an ethical business that focuses on animal welfare throughout the whole process (from growing to shearing). Our Mohair is vegetarian as our animals will never go to slaughter even when their fibre is no longer financially viable and they will never go into the food chain. The sheep’s fleece we buy is only bought from local small holders and farmers where we can be sure the animals are treated with care and respect. We treat the animals that supply our fibre as we do our customers, with respect. We are trying to encourage artists to consider where their fibre comes from and if it’s natural, to consider the treatment of the animal that supplied it, there are some horrible practices going on out there.
We try to give our customers and visitors to our site a wide range of natural fibres and good information on the fibres and hope we are approachable enough that if anyone has any questions they will contact us.

Newmoor Barn Wool TopsWhere are you located?
We have a small farm on the borders of Devon and Cornwall in the Tamar Valley in the UK. Yep, it sounds idyllic but we do have the A30 fly over running across the bottom of our land.

Feltin Wall hanging Three TowersWhere can we find you on the internet?
We are at www.newmoorbarn.co.uk

Many thanks to Amanda for taking the time to answer our questions and for being the very first inΒ  ‘Meet the Supplier’ πŸ™‚

There really is a great selection of wool and animal fibre at Newmoor Barn, I think I counted 10 different breeds available in raw or washed fleece as well as Alpaca, Llama and Mohair. The dyed wool is really interesting too, with breeds like British Grey Faced Dartmoor, Shetland, Badger Face Torddu and Cheviot X Welsh Mountain available in tops or batts and some gorgeous Devon & Cornwall Long Wool locks. It probably has the widest range of raw and dyed wool and animal fibres I’ve come across.

If you’d like to contribute to the Felting and Fiber Studio or would just like to contact us for any reason, we now have a ‘Contact Us‘ page up at the top.

Latest Projects

Latest Projects

I decided to take the plunge and open an Etsy shop. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I’m going to start making sticks with feathers and crystals stuck to them or adding ironic moustaches to all my notebooks πŸ˜‰Β  Lyn was telling me that etsy have started doing instant downloads, but it appears to be in the trial stage at the moment. I added a digital download to my shop and applied to join their ‘team’ in the hope I can try it too, but I’m still waiting to hear.

I don’t have much in there at the moment, mostly some silk fibre packs and a felted notebook cover. But on Friday I was having a rummage through my fabric and with 3 large boxes and 5 shoe boxes open and contents all over, I thought it might be nice to put together a fabric sample pack of the different fabrics I used in my e-book. How long could it take? About 20 minutes or so? Ha! 2 hours later I was still cutting and measuring, taking photos, making piles on the floor, standing on the tape measure and almost slicing my neck open, getting sidetracked with a pile of fabric perfect for this, that or the other! And then I had to edit the photos and do the listing. I don’t know how people find the time! Of course, I’m pretty sure my fabric supply is dangerously low now, so I’ll probably have to re-stock πŸ™‚

fabricsYesterday I found a bit of time to go through my box of felt pieces to make things with. I had quite a large piece I’d made with black merino and strips of coloured cotton gauze. The back was blues and greens with silk embellishments. I thought it’d make a nice purse or wallet, with two sections. I’ve almost finished it, I just need to add the button and button hole.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATrying a button:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe back:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI still had quite a big piece of the felt left, so I cut the pieces out for another one:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other project I found time for was sewing a notebook cover. I made a piece of nuno felt a while back from a patterned pink, green and blue silk scarf. I had always intended to make a notebook cover out of it but really liked it and didn’t want to cut it up! I think time has made it a little easier though πŸ™‚

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe texture is really nice:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had a few ideas for making things with some of the natural white felt pieces I have spare. I started to cut them up, but you’ll have to wait and see what I make from these πŸ™‚

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you had time for making anything lately or is everyone battling the weather, it seems like half of us are under feet of snow. I’m glad it’s cooled off a bit down under though, only about 32C now in Victoria, Kaz has probably got her woolly jumpers out and the fire on πŸ˜‰

Threads and Yarns

Threads and Yarns

Around this time last year I was still doing the Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge. I struggled with it, and didn’t always enjoy it, but I did like what I produced when I used some felt offcuts from a piece I’d made with natural wools for placemats and coasters. I used my own handspun thread to sew the stitches. This is one I made using chain stitch, and this is one using cretan stitch. I hadn’t used my threads in a while, but recently I’ve been inspired by my flickr-friend, Marchi Wierson, a sculptural fibre artist who uses a variety of techniques in her work, such as wet felting and crochet, and loves working with natural wools and fibres. Her recent vessel commission and some gorgeous natural fibre yarns had me rummaging through my wools and fibres and getting my spindles out to spin more thread and yarn. I decided to use three shades of Shetland Wool.

shetlandI pulled off some of the tops from each shade.

tops

Then I looked through my embellishment fibres for some I thought would make a nice match. I chose Soybean top, viscose top and flax.

fibresI added some of each fibre to the Shetland tops.

fibreThen I blended them by hand.

blend
I got a couple of my spindles out, this is one I made and painted a few years ago.

spindleI made a small amount of thread, though even a small amount of wool and fibres goes a long way when spinning thread. This is it wound around the spindle.

threadThen I blended up some more Shetland and fibres and spun a thicker yarn. I will probably use the yarn in a wet felting project, though I have used them for needlefelting before.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo have a look at Marchi’s photostream if you have time, her work is amazing and inspiring πŸ™‚

You might have noticed a few changes to the site recently. We’ve been updating it and adding more photos to the galleries. We’ve also added a new page for Fabrics, and Ann’s ever popular Cat Cave ‘how to’ is now listed on the Wet Felting Tutorials page.

Wool Supplies and Samples

Wool Supplies and Samples

While I was laying out my white texture felt piece the other week, I had all my bags of white and light grey wools spread out on my floor, along with my stash of raw wool locks, so I thought I may aswell go ahead and do an inventory of my white wools, to see if I’m running low on any and need to order more. I usually keep a small stash of each wool breed (or colour) out in my felting boxes and put the rest away in my supplies bags and boxes, it makes it easier to have a large selection of breeds or colours to choose from without taking up as much room. These are the white wool tops, scoured and carded wools I most commonly use.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy favourite raw wool locks are Gotland, Teeswater and Wensleydale. There’s also some raw mohair locks here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter scribbling down the names of all the different wools I commonly use, I checked whether there was a good amount in my felting box and whether I was low in my supplies and needed to order more. This took a while, and it suddenly occured to me that if I made myself a document on Word, I could print it out any time I needed to do another stock check. It’s only taken me about 4 years of felting to think of that πŸ™‚

WHITE WOOLS INVENTORY

A few years ago, I spotted some really inexpensive index card holders in our local supermarket. I thought they would be perfect to use for wool samples, so I bought a few and made myself a cover for one.

4635492385_23f0e04d9f_oI like to pull off a small sample of wool tops and staple it to the index card with the name of the shade or blend. I buy almost all of my supplies from World of Wool, but on the rare occasion I buy something elsewhere, I make a note of that too.

coloursIt’s really handy for natural wools too, the texture and staple length can be seen as well as the colour.

naturalsDo you have a system for storing your wools and fibres or keeping track if supplies are getting low? How about storage? I know that is always a favourite topic for fibre artists! πŸ™‚

January Projects

January Projects

I’ve been trying to find ways of having a few projects on the go so I can work on them for a few minutes at a time where possible. A few months ago, I posted about a couple of felt pieces I’d made with the intention of practising stitches for the Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge. I didn’t keep up with the challenge, so had the pieces spare. I decided to add some stitching to the first piece. This is how it looked originally. I started by machine stitching around the patches of colour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a close up:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the next couple of days, I added some hand stitched straight stitches, first in in yellow and then added some in orange.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother project I got started on this week is a white texture felt piece. Liz from That Fuzzy Feeling blog, recently made a gorgeous piece of texture felt and it inspired me to make one. I decided to make a natural white one, so I got to play with (and smell!) my collection of wool, alpaca and mohair locks. They are mostly unwashed so my hands felt really nice afterwards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first day I managed to get as far as laying it out and sewing up around the edges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere are some of the gorgeous locks I positioned around the edges:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo far, I’ve managed to add the stitches from the top to the bottom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks to Ruth for encouraging us to find ways to fit in a few minutes of fibre time each day, I’ve managed to get a lot more done this week than I otherwise would have. It might not be much each day, but before long, it all adds up to finished projects I wouldn’t have had without the challenge πŸ™‚

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