Sep 22, 2010

Felting Demo @ CGF

We're excited to be giving a Felting Demo at the Common Ground Fair this year! It will be Sunday morning at the Wednesday Spinners Tent, next to the Fleece Tent. We'll show how we lay out our rug designs and felt them by foot, with musical assistance by Wiffletree.

Our rugs start with hand-dyed "pre-felts". We process the shorter staple (fiber length) Nash Island wool into batts (a big fluffy sheet) and then felt them up a bit in our felting machine before dyeing them. Rugs can be made straight from a batt, but pre-felting speeds up the process and simplifies the dyeing as well.

Next we lay the pre-felts out on a bamboo mat and soak it with hot, soapy water. Any design shapes are added at this time. The mat is rolled up and tied, and then rolled under foot to felt the fibers together. It usually takes three to four sessions of 5 minutes each to felt a rug. More hot, soapy water is applied between each session to keep the fibers open and slippery.

Roving or loose fibers can be applied to the rug to create designs as well as shapes cut from other pre-felts.

Once the rug is felted, it is rinsed with alternating hot and cold water to firm up the felt and rinse out any remaining soap. The rug is then spun out in the washing machine and laid out to dry.

Once dry, we embellish our rugs with hand-stitching, using strands of hand-dyed yarns and a sharp tapestry needle. The stitches add definition to shapes and quilt-like textures to the background.

After felting, the rug is cut into shape - we like ovals and rounded-corner rectangles best. A stitched edge similar to a blanket stitch is added to finish the rug.

See you at the Fair this weekend!

Sep 15, 2010

Save Us From Fiber Lust!

Dear Local Handspinners,

We are suffering from a terrible affliction here at Starcroft Fiber Mill, and fear that only you can save us.

An epidemic of fiber lust has rendered all other work impossible at the Mill.

We are in the midst of preparing the hand-spinning Island fleeces for the Common Ground Fair and are overcome with the most powerful desire to do nothing but fondle such lovely fiber... nozzle it against our cheeks, maybe spin just a little, or just gaze at it lovingly, while the hours and days slip us by.

If there is to be any hope of recovery, every single Nash Island fleece will need to be removed from our possession at the Fleece Tent.

We're simply too weak to resist.