Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wool Breed Experiments-East Friesian Wool

 I had a lovely visit in the studio this week with local artist, Laura Kiel. She works in both ceramics and felt and will be teaching some felt making at a local school. She came by for some ideas and to make some things together. It was wonderful to meet her, make some felt, chat about wool, building a home, and how to move forward in our creative processes.
  She brought with her some beautiful wool (well...almost all wool is beautiful in it's own way, isn't it! I think I have yet to meet a not beautiful wool!) from East Friesian sheep that lived at the Salt Spring Cheese Company (who make absolutely delicious cheeses!).  It's a new wool breed to me, and the temptation to test was irresistible!  Laura very generously shared some of her stash with me.  The wool is quite soft, and felts quite quickly. I bet it would be great for needlefelting.  Apparently the first shepherd to tend these sheep was also a hair dresser- a fine combo for us wool devotees!
  We made some felt ropes, some felt beads and I made a flat felt to explore the properties of this wool breed. I'm working on developing a wool study collection...making a purposeful felt using different sheep breeds. I think this would be a wonderful study to share with others, and am working on setting up a website/forum for felt exploration- Felt Gathering.   I had thought I would have this in place by early October, but am now planning on January as a reasonable start date. To start the exploration we will select one breed a month to experiment with and discuss and build up this resource journal/collection.  We would share resources for finding the particular breed of wool, information on the breed including origin, staple length, micron count, the results of our felt experiment, and then how we would see using this particular fiber to best advantage. I'd love it if you'd like to join me! Leave me a comment if you are interested...a suggested wool breed?...and I'll let you know when I finish setting it up....I'll also announce it here as I get closer!
The East Friesian is not a traditional felting wool (as far as I know!), and it's great to have some idea on how we can best use our locally available, and under utilized wool resources. Laura mentioned that there is still a lot of this wool roving and battings available...adding to my wish list!

Warm wishes,


  1. Hi Fiona, lovely experimenting together! Must have been real fun, I think! So far I haven't done many different sorts of wool, intent to try "berg schaf wolle" instead if the "normal" merino I usually have (that is used by the German blog friend who makes such lovely felted animals and dolls, ánd I can order it from the shop I normally order)
    The photo of the little balls on the table is great!
    Would love to participate in your try-out forum, but .... not very practical I'm afraid ;-)

  2. Hi Els! I'd love it if you could share a link to your friends felt work, and to your European wool source. Thanks for your comment on the pic of the little balls-
    I'm really enjoying taking pictures of wool these days. My camera, that I've finally figured out how to use to best advantage, is's been missing it's click button for several years now, but has decided in the last week or so to only take pictures half of the time I press it! I must learn to use my new (old) camera! The group I imagine is entirely maybe you could join us, if you'd like too! Warm wishes, Fiona

  3. Oh! And on the wool test list is Drenthe Heath...sounds like such a mystical name from over here...great and wild and wooly....local to you, Els? Maybe?

  4. Hi Finona,
    Love your idea of felting your way through the different breeds of sheep. Each breed had its' own unique wool characteristics and I totally agree, there's nothing more wonderful then a clean, healthy fleece, regardless of the breed.
    Two breeds for your consideration...
    Jacob sheep and Navajo-Churro sheep, the two breeds we raise. Jacob sheep have a multicolored soft and springy wool, which works great for wearable felts and craft projects. Navajo-Churro sheep have a double coated wool which comes in lots of natural colors and makes a very durable felt.
    And there are soooo many other wonderful wool breeds... I'd love to join in.