Karakul Wool + Angora Mohair = ???

No, this is not a new cross-breed! It is a story of blending wool and mohair to make felt. For those of you, like myself a few years ago, do not know the different types of fiber that can go into felt here is a short breakdown.

Wool comes from sheep. Mohair comes from Angora Goats. We usually call what we get from llamas and alpacas “Fiber” (not a part of this story). And then there are Angora Rabbits who produce – angora! Also not a part of this story.

Julie, a friend of mine with Karakul Sheep and Angora Goats (and, incidentally, Angora Rabbits!) asked me if I could make her some felt panels for her exhibitor area at the California State Fair which was last week for sheep and goats. Julie and I got together with her fiber – natural and dyed – and discussed design plans. It was a true collaboration.

I had not blended wool and mohair on the carder before so wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. We decided on three panels that would have a base of natural colored wool and mohair – cream/white. Then an ombre look for two panels which would have an edge of mohair only (black), a blend of mohair and wool in middle and all wool at other edge.

Here is the wool and mohair on the carder belt.

karakul and mohair on belt

Here is a partially felted ombre panel. The challenge here is that the mohair alone is really heavier than the wool and kept dropping off the back of the carder and didn’t want to go onto the drum! With a little work, I got it to wind on.

ombre

Julie dyed both Karakul and mohair locks so we planned out how to use these but then Julie said just to use my own judgement. Perfect collaboration! I sorted both sets by color to get an idea of what I had to work with.

sorted karakul

Dyed Karakul

 

Dyed Mohair

Dyed Mohair

For one panel, I laid out stripes of Karakul color on one side of panel and added Mohair color to the other surface area.

three stripe on table

And the finished panel.

three stripe at studio

And one of the finished ombres.

mohair with blue at studio

At the fair, Julie came up with a very creative way to use the panels.

horizontal at fair

double helix at fair

other vertical panels at fair

Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the help of the sheep and goats! Here are a couple of Julie’s Karakuls at the fair. Sorry, no goat photos.

karakuls at fair

And, as always, at home I appreciate the wool our Karakuls give us. It is very hot here right now so could only get good photos of Quentin but isn’t he beautiful?!

quentin eating

quentin by gate

And no goats (or goat photos) here either! They are smarter than I am so sticking to sheep!

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Published in: on July 26, 2016 at 5:07 pm  Comments (3)  
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One Way to Make Felt

1. Start by sorting some beautiful Merino wool from Mendenhall Wool Ranch in Loma Rica (in the lower Sierra foothills).

sorting fleeces

 

2. Wash fleece.

washing 2

 

3. Rinse fleece.

rinsing

 

4. Dry fleece.

drying

 

5. Hand pick by color.

picked

 

6. Card on drum carder.

carding

 

7. Remove batt from carder.

batt coming off carder

 

8. Make pre-felt from batts on Felt Loom.

felting

 

9. Combine pre-felts to make felt piece.

felting 2

 

10. Trim felt.

trimming

 

11. Enjoy beautiful felt!

felt 1

 

12. Figure out something to do with all the trimming scraps – create small bags of felt and hand spun yarn (thanks, Dona, for cutting up all that felt!)

scraps in basket

 

Artisan made felt – individually crafted. This batch of Merino wool in natural colors now available!

felt 2

Published in: on November 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm  Comments (10)  
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A Kentucky Wooly Adventure

I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to visit a farm where they make a piece of equipment that I have become interested in – the Felt Loom. This amazing machine makes beautiful felt – and much more. I had been talking with its inventors – Lanette Freitag and Don Bowles – but decided I needed to make a trip to Kentucky to see it in person. Of course, I wasn’t at all influenced by the fact that they have sheep!

I was able to explore its uses and learn how to operate it during my stay with them. It is a very large and powerful needle felting machine with the great option of a light table on the front so you can properly prepare what you are felting – here is the beginning of felting merino to silk to create a scarf..

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I was amazed at all the things that can be created on the Felt Loom.

Rugs….

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Art and wall hangings….

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And jackets…

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…and so much more.

And, did I mention the sheep?! Many are mixed breed but with an emphasis on English Leicester – a breed I have a particular fondness for. These are very sweet sheep.

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With beautiful wool…

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These sheep have a guardian donkey named “Bob”. I like Bob. Don says he moves the sheep easily, coming up behind the lambs to give them a gentle “nudge” when they straggle.

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Here, Bob re-joins his flock.

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Thanks to Don and Lanette for their hospitality. I very much enjoyed my visit and am looking forward to my own Felt Loom arriving in a couple months. Now, if I could just figure how how to get a couple of the English Leicesters here….!

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Published in: on July 17, 2013 at 1:44 am  Comments (5)  
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