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Sample Fibers

Sample Fibers

Our guest post today is from Marilyn.


I’ve recently purchased seven different types of fiber and decided to do a sample test to understand the feel of the fiber, how each fiber felted, shrinkage and possible uses based on the end result. Since most of them were similar in color in order to identify each fiber when it was laid out, I put a piece of different colored yarn on each one and cataloged it on a chart of the layout and taped a sample on the bag of fiber. I also made notes as to the feel of the fiber laying it out, approximately how long the staple was and the size of the sample before felting.

Variety of Wool

I wasn’t concerned about exact shapes, in fact, I left some of the layers wispy on purpose to see how they would act. Ruth has an excellent reference in her Felting book on some of these same fibers, but I wanted to see how these fibers reacted here with my water, a cold work room, my felting style, etc. I used 4 layers each at 90 degree angles for all except the Teeswater 2 , Wensleydale and Merino/silk. I just teased out one layer. I was looking for that curl I was missing.

Wool Laid Out to Felt

From top to bottom, left to right:

Blue Leicester                                                                     Teeswater
Very soft, 3-3 1/2 “ staple                                                    Soft with sheen, Long staple 5-6”
8 ½ x 5 ½” 8 x 6”

Wensleydale                                  Teeswater 2           Wensleydale 2
Coarse 10 x 4”                                   9 x 7.5”                      9 x 7.5”

Organic Polworth/silk                                                POY Corriedale
Very soft                                                                             Fuzzy feel
5 – 6 “ staple                                                                     4 – 5” staple
9 x 5 ¾”                                                                             9 x 5 ½”

Alpaca/Silk                        Merino/silk                    Gotland
Luxurious soft/sheen           Soft w sheen                   Thicker fiber but silky
3” staple                                 8 x 5”                                 3” staple
10 x 6 ¼’                                                                           10 x 6”

I covered them with mosquito netting, sprayed with warm water and rubbed olive oil soap and gently rubbed until slippery, then rolled them on bubble wrap, turning 90 degrees each time, then flipping them over for a few more turns, then fulled with the bead board and Plexiglas. Rinsed in hot (throwing in sink) and cold water then a vinegar rinse. I spun them in the salad spinner and laid them on screens to dry.

Felted Samples

After felting in the same order:

Blue Leicester – soft with a bumpy textures. There is a tight curl on the wispy ends. 8 ½ x 5 ½” no shrinkage other than the wisps formed an edge.

Teeswater – Curl obvious, coarser than before felted. 8 x 6 ½” the wisps spread out but the body of the sample stayed the same.

Wensleydale – Curl is obvious, coarse and fuzzy. 7 x 6” Slight shrinkage in length, again the wisps gathered to form an edge.

Teeswater 2 — Definite curl, slightly coarse. 3 ¼ x 8 ½” 15% shrinkage in length and 12.5% in width.

Wensleydale 2 – Some larger curl, coarse and fuzzy. 8 x 8 “ disregarding one tail. 11% shrinkage in length. Width spread out during felting/fulling.

Organic Polworth/silk – Very soft cotton puff feel. The most interesting thing about this sample was it took longer to felt and did not grasp the mohair fiber hardly at all that I used as an identifier. It actually felted at first in layers. I had to work harder to put more pressure and moisture to get the fibers to bond. At first it seemed like it was water proof. Perhaps more silk than Polworth?

Merino/silk – soft and cobweb like. 5 ½ x 5 ½” 32% shrinkage in length, spread out in process but not surprising since it was only one layer.

POY Corriedale – Surprisingly soft and airy. I had used brown Corriedale for my trees in the Autumn challenge it had a much different feel and texture. 9 x 5” 9% shrinkage in width.

Alpaca/silk – very sift and light. 8 ¼ x 5” 18% shrinkage in length, 20% shrinkage in width. With all the discussion of the difficulty of felting alpaca was surprised when it wasn’t as difficult as the Polwarth. It had the most shrinkage in both direction and. There was also some small curl evident.

Gotland – slightly coarse. This was marketed as the official “Lord of the Rings” cloak fiber. I can see why. It had the same 4 layers but is thicker and denser than the rest. This fiber would probably make an excellent cat cave or door mat. Definitely not for nuno but would be useful for coarse texture in a picture.

Close Up Felted Sample

This is a close-up of the Gotland. Pretty hairy! I have close-ups of the other fibers if anyone is interested.

This was a great experiment especially since I felted and fulled them together and used the same process for each. I was surprised at some of the results particularly the low shrinkage rates. I really recommend doing this for any new fiber so that you can get the most out of the fibers you have and understand what they can and can’t do in your environment.


I hope everyone has a lovely Valentines’ Day!

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