Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Month: June 2004 Page 1 of 3

Black Sheep Gathering

I spent the weekend at Black Sheep Gathering, and look what I made!

felted scarves  felted scarves
Left: front view; Right: back view. Click to see enlargements.

The blue felted scarf is one that I made 18 months ago. I wasn’t too happy with the weight of the scarf. It just didn’t drape. It just hung there. So, when I saw “lace weight felted scarves” in the class list, I jumped right on it. The rainbow colored one is the one I made in the class taught by Loyce Erickson. It is much closer to what I was looking to achieve. I’m not sure that I’m too excited with the look of the white silk hankies that I laid on top. I think it would have been better if it had been dyed previously.

Just what was I looking for? I saw a felted scarf 2 years ago at the Coupeville Spin-In that looked like stained glass. I’ve been wanting to figure out how to make one since then. The first scarf class I took was felted onto silk crepe de chine, so it had a definite front and back. I also didn’t layer enough wool on it so there are bare patches everywhere. (I was warned that I didn’t have enough wool, but I was stubborn. I wanted that drapey felted scarf.) And since the blue scarf didn’t drape worth a darn, even with scant wool, I didn’t try again.

Anyway, this new scarf is much closer…AND…it was a lot less work: not because it was finer weight, but because Loyce found an easier way. No hot water. No 800+ rolls, no washboard, and most importantly, I didn’t end up feeling like I did a full free weight workout at the end of the session. And I now have the techniques to keep trying. See how it flutters in the breeze?

The other class I took was one on color blending by Jill Laski. Another fun and informative class, but no pretty pictures to show.

While taking the scarves down at the end of the picture shoot, look what I found?


I’ve wanted to try to dye with lichen, but have been hesitant to actually collect them in the wild. Now I can collect a batch without worrying about the ecological balance of the forest.


No knitting content. We had to make that difficult call yesterday to put our oldest cat to sleep today.

Felted Yarn

unfelted vs. felted yarn

click to view larger image

Left: Swatch knitted with yarn finished normally
Right: Swatch knitted with yarn that has been felted

I felted a sample skein in 2 small tubs of water: one contained hot soapy water; the other, cold water. I mashed it around quite a bit by hand, and alternated between the 2 tubs. I think I repeated the process around 10 times. When I pulled it out, it was a matted mess.

I was pretty worried about pulling the strands apart, so I chickened out and let it dry over night. The theory was that it might not fall apart in my hand if I let it dry first. I don’t know why I thought that, except that it might have something to do with procrastination.

Guess what? I think I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety if I remembered the last step of the felting process. Whack the heck out of the yarn against the edge of the kitchen counter (or any hard edge), to break up the felt a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember until I started knitting with the finished yarn.

Last night, I pulled the strands apart and wound it up into a ball. It pulled apart fairly easily, once I determined that it wasn’t all that delicate anymore. I immediately started swatching, using the same stitch pattern (linen stitch) and same needle size (US #7) as before.

As you can see from the above picture, the swatch made with the felted yarn showed better stitch definition.


For my birthday, Martin graciously accompanied me to Retzlaff Winery for the annual Spinning at the Winery, where he helped me pick out 3 fleeces. 2 lincoln/corriedale crosses for a tapestry that I wanted to make, and a black merino fleece.

The lincoln/corriedale fleeces are absolutely luscious. Take a look at these beauties.

grey lincoln/corriedale fleece - grey  lincoln/corriedale fleece - white

I grabbed about 1.5 pounds of each fleece and scoured them right away, because I hoped to finish the tapestry by the time we leave for the British Virgin Islands in early July (going sailing for a week!). It’ll be a present to the couple that’s organizing the family for the trip. (Did you guess that once I decide to do something, I can’t rest until I start it? Finishing it is something completely different.)

I used the cold scour method (lots of soap and soak the fleece in cool water overnight) because I wanted to retain the lanolin. I was a little worried because the next morning, the wool felt a bit tacky when wet. But, it dried beautifully. All the tackiness is gone. There’s now just the feel of lanolin rich wool. A lady at CNCH told me that the lanolin helps a woven wool rug wear better, so I decided to try it. But, I’m not willing to spin the wool raw, as she did. A little too much sheepiness for me.

washed wool  06-lc-locks.jpg
Left: fleece in drying rack; check out the sheen and those curls!
Right: clean and fluffed wool locks

Anyway, the wool was rinsed 3 times in cool water with vinegar in each rinse, to bring the acidity back. (Soap is alkaline, and wool likes to be a little on the acidic side.) I let it dry outside in wire bins over the course of the past 2 days (90 degree weather helped quite a bit).

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