Masham Merino Mixes

I am trying slowly to use more and more British or at least European fibre in my felt and dyeing work.  In pursuit of this aim , I bought some Masham fibre from Adelaide Walker at Woolfest. Creamy white and beautiful brown.

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Although I have this aim I do have  a large stash of coloured merino.   I decided to try working with the coloured merino and the natural Masham together.  I did not physically mix them , but have used them together to make a number of pieces.  The Masham is slightly more coarse than the merino , but they blend together beautifully and I love the mix of natural colors in the Masham with the bright colours of the merino.

Here are my finished mixed pieces.

chapters

 

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and here is a  small one, actually made with left overs before stitching.

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This post has been reissued due to problems with the original posting

 

 

Counting Sheep

  

The book called “Counting Sheep” by Philip Walling is a fascinating read for anyone like me who has an interest in wool.  Based on some of the 60 native wool breeds that live in the UK it charts their development , their history , and the realities of sheep farming today.  Although I cannot convince my family of the fact it is a really interesting read , I recommend it – there is  even a chapter on different kinds of sheepdogs . 

Historically  sheep were kept for their wool. Wool was the mainstay of the UK economy for four centuries.  Fortunes were made on wool production and export of the wool to Europe.    As the demand for meat grew , new breeds were developed , often with an impact on the quality of the wool.  Today sheep are almost exclusively bred for meat and the value of the wool although slightly recovering is very small. 

Whilst at Woolfest I was reminded of this book  listening  to Peter Titley  talk on  rare Britsh sheep breeds.   Many of these rare breeds were used in the development of today’s modern sheep. 

 The hebredians , sheep with a capacity to survive on really coarse grass .
  
This is a Manx Loghtan, another ancient sheep , native of the Isle of Man.

Blue faced Leicestershire were first bred around Hexham in Northumberland.  A very odd looking sheep , used to breed Mule sheep for their meat by crossing with blac-faced horned sheep. 

  
It doesn’t produce much wool , but what is does is lovely to use for felting. 

My favorite of all is the Herdwick , tasty meat , hardy sheep , not good for felting …. 

But excellent for hardwearing carpets.

  
As advertised by Wools of Cumbria Carpets Ltd , with this quirky carpet sheep.

A rainbow of fibres

For the last two days I have been at Woolfest , soaking up all things related to sheep ,  wool and fibres , meeting old friends and making new friends and buying a few things too.!  One thing that really struck me was the beautiful displays really showing both fibres and colour in all their glory.   Here are a few examples: 

   
 

   
  

        

Great event to visit , well organized by the wool clip. 

I will be back next year.  🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏🐏

Felting in the garden

It has been the most beautiful weather this week in the Netherlands .  So I decided to do some felting in the garden .  I always feel freer to use loads of water in the garden where I don’t have to worry about mopping up , I also use the hose to rewet my pieces which is really quick and feel that the slats on my wooden garden table help the process.

Outside with my neighbours apples tree in full bloom and the sun shining it’s hard not to be inspired.

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I am making a series of vessels to naturally dye.   I decided to have a go at making three at once.  One Polwarth , silk and merino , one Blue Faced Leicester and one LLewyn and merino.

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The LLewyn had been in my stash since a Woolfest a number of years ago.    It proved to be the problem child of my trio.  It’s short fibres had made it hard to lay our evenly and that made it subject to  forming holes.  It also required lots more water,  soap and rolling than the others to felt.

I thought about giving up but persisted.  I should not of bothered as I am left with a holey piece of felt , which I think is a hopeless case.  Maybe some creative stitching , arty darning ?  , but no somehow I think it would look just a bodge.

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My other two working well and after some stitching will be ready for the dye pot later this week.

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