The Crafty Shepherdess explains how to prepare fleeces for spinning, felting and needle felting.
Our local shepherd gave my a fleece from one of his Romney sheep, the wool is white and quite crimpy and full of lanolin. I decided that I should do a small sample to see how it washes up. Below is a picture of the before and after washing .
To achieve this, first take an amount of fleece, take out the vegetable matter, poo and anything else undesirable, then put the fleece in a container to suit the sample with plenty of room, fill the container with fairly hot but not boiling water along with a small amount of dish washing detergent and give a swish to mix, then dunk the fleece into it, making sure it is well covered in water, leave it for 20 mins or so, then give it a gentle swirl and you will see some pretty awful browny coloured water. Lift out the wool, empty out the water and repeat this a second time taking care to use the water temperature the same (ish) as when it had been there for 20 mins. After the second soak, give the wool a gentle wash by just gently squeezing, taking care not to agitate it as that would make ‘felt’ which you don’t want to do. Keep the water temperature even if you can.
By now the wool smells and looks a whole lot better. If it’s a fairly small sample, dry in a rolled up towel and lay out to dry. Once dry you can comb it out using 2 oblong pet wire brushes, although the ‘professionals ‘ use proper carding combs or if you have bags of money, a drum carding machine at about £400. There are plenty of combing demos on Youtube.
Below is the original, (see the yellow lanolin at the base of the wool), then the washed and finally the combed version. It’s amazing to see how white and soft the wool comes up.
From here you can dye the wool if you like. Plenty of tips again, on YouTube. I haven’t tried dying wool yet.
I only know how to needle felt so far, but I’m attending a workshop leter this month on wet felting a 3d picture, so will report on that next.
So as this is a Ouessant Society, I expect you are thinking why I am using Romney wool, well I do use Ouessant wool, but there is a limit on what you can use brown/black wool for.
Some of my work is being purchased by one of our members from the Isle of Wight for an exhibition. Here are a few samples of what can be achieved by needle felting.
I shall be putting pictures of needle felting projects on our wool associated crafts page on our website
Author: The Crafty Shepherdess