Wool is amazing. My mom introduced me to needle felting about a year ago. If you've never heard of it before...it's a crafting process where you take cleaned and carded sheeps wool and shape and sculpt it with a barbed needle. The needle pushes the fibers in and intertwines them. It's really an amazing thing! So, my mom shared some of her pre-processed (cleaned and carded) wool with me. There was some trial and error, but all in all I really liked the results I got. I made some adorable little bunny figures...some ducklings and chicks for Easter and some pumpkins for Halloween.
I liked them so much that I decided that I wanted to do alot more needle felting. But then I ran out of wool! Buying it online was kind of expensive and finding the right processed wool locally (or online) was hit or miss... Mostly it was rougher wool which makes for hairy/fuzzy sculptures... Ick! So I decided to try processing it myself!
One weekend when I was home visiting, my mom and I drove over to one of the local sheeps farms in upstate New York and met up with the owner who showed us lots and lots of garbage bags filled with raw fleece (sheared right from the sheep with gunk and all still attached!). Each bag contained one entire sheep's worth of wool. She even had some blue and red Saratoga County Fair ribbons on some (the same fair I used to show my cows at!)! (I thought to myself...make sure I don't get any red ribbon second place wool! lol) We told her what we were looking for (fine wool with a soft, not course texture). And she dug and searched and opened bags for us to look and to feel and finally, we found the perfect one! She pulled it out, weighed it, money was exchanged and it was ours! I'd like to meet the sheep that it came from. Some of the bags had the sheep's respective names on them, but not ours... :(
Next we had to find carding paddles. For this we went to another local sheep where the woman has a whole barn filled with spinning, knitting and needle felting supplies.
Finally when I got back home to Boston I was ready to process the wool! After washing it several times (being very careful not to felt it accidentally... soap+wool+agitation=matted mess!) and letting it dry, I was ready to start carding it. And boy is that a lot of work!! I had to cut the yuckiest pieces off and just keep the soft pliable wool. Pull out big pieces of hay and grass. And then tiny piece by tiny piece, brush it out with the carding paddles. It's amazing how soft and fluffy it is afterward!
This is what is looks like AFTER it's washed. It's crimpy and kind of stuck together...but these carding paddles really do the trick! (And make for some sore arms and blistered hands!)
I still have alot more of it to card, but not without doing some sculpting in the mean time! Here's what I've made so far...and it's made from the EXACT same wool pictured above!
These are a little crying pumpkin head and a smiling vintagey pumpkin head. Can you believe that they used to be attached to a sheep?!
This little witch is proud of her origin!
This little guy was shocked to hear where he came from... lol
Wool really is an amazing material! Too itchy to wear in my opinion, but it makes for great crafting!!
All of these fellas are for sale right now at my Etsy store...check them out! :)