Raw Fleece

 Two lovely Wensleydales

Two lovely Wensleydales

This time last week I was at Woolfest in Cockermouth, Cumbria looking at sheep and all things woolly.

I was also spending far too much money on things like naturally dyed embroidery wool from The Mulberry Dyer, knitting patterns (which given my lack of knitting ability is perverse to say the least!) and raw fleece at their fleece sale.  I like the fact that I know that my fleece came from Greenlands Farm, Tewitfield, Carnforth Lancs and is Saxon Merino x  Saxon Merino x Ouessant ((black).

After I bought it another felt maker told me that raw Merino is really difficult to prepare as it is so fine and full of lanolin.  It was such a beautiful colour though!  So this afternoon I took the sheep between the horns so to speak and having looked up instructions online (as I’ve done it before but only at Wild Rose where Rosie knows what she is doing) had a go with a bucket of hot water, lots of Fairy Liquid and my trusty spinner.  It had been well ‘skirted’ but it was full of dirt so I carried the buckets of dirty water down two flights and tipped them away in the street drain just in case, although I had put the fleece in a net bag to protect it and my drains!

It is laid out and drying now – and it looks like I have managed not to felt it.  I just have a lot of hand carding to do over the next few days.  I really must invest in a drum carder sometime soon!


Although this blog was started to discuss feltmaking embroidery seems to have taken the upper hand of recent times – mostly as it’s easier to carry round and grab the odd half an hour here and there.

I did a feltmaking course with Heather Belcher at the City Lit in March, which didn’t really get a mention despite being tremendously useful.  Coming at feltmaking from a fine art and sculptural perspective really suits my style and gave me a number of new ideas and ways of working…

However apart from those four Saturdays I haven’t really done anything worth mentioning until the recent bank holiday weekend.  I go to Portugal next month for a week long feltmaking holiday with Nicola Brown, and I thought I really ought to get in some practice – so I felted a new hatband for my straw hat (I am hoping the weather will justify wearing it!!)  The design is based around a bowl I produced in Heather’s course.


The grey background references stone walls and lichen, and the flowers are made from some of the naturally dyed wool I brought back from Wild Rose in Scotland last year.  I carded this together with some bought Shetland and silk mix.  They are primroses although a bit big to be naturalistic – I really must get it into my head that Shetland doesn’t necessarily shrink as much as Merino!  But I am pleased with their delicacy. I decided as they were on a hat I didn’t need to felt them as hard as I might other items.  I even used some embroidery wool to add a properly primrose like yellow centre.  I debated whether to put some leaves in, but ultimately thought that the more two tone yellow and grey was rather lovely and I didn’t want to disrupt it with any green.