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During my searching for a new craft, I have been down a very longwinded, messy and smelly detour.  This started 1) by having a lifelong interest in knitting & 2) deciding that I would like to make my own yarn.

One consequence of this decision was that a spinning wheel came into my life and I taught myself to spin (extremely inexpertly)

Spinning wheel

My new baby

and the second consequence which was the smelly one was that raw sheep fleeces were given to me.  Beware the person that gives you a fleece from a sheep.

Unprocessed fleece

Fleece as it comes from a sheep

In my innocence I plunged the fleece into the bath full of hot water and it became wet and heavy as well as smelly and dirty  – a wonderful combination (and not popular with the other person I share a house with).

Dirty fleece in the bath

Fleece in the bath after first wash

Anyway, I won’t go on about this any longer, but it took hours and hours and hours and I have enough spun fleece to knit myself a jumper which I suspect will resemble porridge both in colour and texture, I’m just waiting for a suitably lumpy pattern to come my way and I will get started.

Washed and dried sheep fleece

Fleece now clean and dry

Another result was that I ended up with quantities of washed and carded fleece but absolutely no enthusiasm to do any more spinning.  At that precise point, I was invited to join a new felting group Never Ever Felt Better that had just started up in the next village.  Now there was the answer to my problem, and maybe it would be the craft of my dreams.

Felting in village hall

Working Hard

 All these crafts are so simple on the surface and so difficult in practice.   I claim the prize in our group as the person who makes the ugliest felt objects.  I have made a hat that is so thick and heavy the weather is never cold enough to wear it.

Sue Hagley in felt hat

A hat to hot to wear

I have made some slippers that don’t match each other and fit no one.

home made felt slippers

Non matching felt slippers

I have made some seat covers that are ugly but at least are warm on the bottom (if you excuse the expression).  These now adorn all the chairs in the house, and have solved the problem for me of what to do with all the fleece I had stockpiled.  The house is now amost a fleece free zone.

chair pads made of felt

Felt Chair Pads

I made a handbag that was several times wider than it was tall, so was completely useless and eventually was remade into a cafetiere  cosy, and then I broke the cafetiere!  However, I have learned, and although this is not the craft of my dreams, it does have certain qualities that I really like – especially that it is quick.  I made a book cover and needle felted the details

And once I had started drawing I realised that I could use the drawings as starting points for my felt making so I made some pre felts and using my sketches of snowdrops and aconites as reference I made my first felt picture.  The base was wet felted and the finer details were needle felted later.

spring flowers felt picture

Spring felt picture

I was happy with this and felt (ha ha) that there were possibilities for me linking the straight forward drawing with the craft element of felt making.  And this is where I am right now, I have just made a batch of pre felts which give me enough colours to get started with for my next felt picture.

a collection of pre felts

Pre Felts

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2 thoughts on “From stinky fleece to artwork via a messy smelly detour

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