Sunday, April 29, 2012

Laylas Skinless Sheep Skin Rug

 Pearhug Studio's asked me to explain in more detail about Layla's skinless sheep skin rug. This was a lot of work and my arms were hurting the next day but its great cardio!

I started of by using very matted wool. The wrong side was so matted that  I couldn't pull it apart. Most of the work was already done for me in this case. To wet felt, you use hot water, soap and agitation. 
As I was washing my fleece, I took the very matted section and submerged it in the hot soapy water right side down (the exterior part of the fleece.) Wearing rubber gloves I began to rub sections of the fleece between my fingers causing it to felt. I would apply soap directly on it and rub my hand over the whole surface very fast while applying pressure. I would try and overlap a few sections that had gaps. After 20 minutes or so, I would empty the water and add fresh hot water. I continued this 4 or 5 times until the fleece was mostly clean and felted. When I say hot water, you want it to be very hot- hence the rubber gloves. 

There were still some sections that needed to be re-enforced. After the piece had dried completely, I began the needle felting. I started to patch the wholes that didn't need extra wood added. Then I went back and added some wool to the parts that were thin. When the back becomes hard enough where you cant pull it apart you're done! I did take a dog comb and brush out the right side. 

This is the felted back up close                                                       The back of the rug

 The front (right side) of the rug

Now you have a skinless sheep skin rug! No one is harmed except maybe your hands and arm muscles! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My first solo dying day!

Dying for me is very new.  I am not saying my way is correct but it sure was fun and I am happy with the way it turned out. Adele had taught me at her house how to crock pot dye with Pro Chemical dyes and that night I went home and ordered my dyes. 

The first step was soaking the fiber/yarn in hot water with citric acid crystals and synthrapol (this is what Pro Chem gave me for samples.) You can also just use citric acid and vinegar. This helps the fiber absorb and set the dye so it holds and doesn't fade or bleed. 

After letting the yarn soak for 30 minutes, I removed them from the soak, squeezed out the excess water and made a little pocket to put dye in.
*Please note that you are using chemicals. Gloves should be used at all time and Do Not use the same containers and tools that you use for food. 

I added the hot pink powder dye to the crock pot and allowed it to dissolve and simmer. The crock pot should be on high but the water should NOT be boiling or your fiber will felt.

Next, I put a grey dye in the pocket of the yarn. You do not need to use a lot of the powder dye at all. A little goes a very long way! 

Then I submerged the balls of yarn in the water. This is what they looked like after a minute or two.

I let the yarn sit until the water is almost totally clear. This means your fiber has absorbed all of the dye. If there is still more dye that wont absorb you can add some more of the citric acid right into the crock pot.

Right after you take the yarn out of the crock pot you should have a soak ready- this is just hot water. It allows any excess dye to come out.

In the tub drying

This is the final result and I'm very happy with it! 

There are different dyes for natural fibers and synthetic fibers. Make sure you know the fiber content before purchasing your dyes. Like I said, I'm no expert... These are just the steps I followed and I wanted to share. I also played around with putting one side of the skein in and changing colors and putting the other side in. Like all fiber arts its a creative process and you have to experiment to see what works best for you. 

  The yarn on the bottom I let soak for only 15 minutes in the citric acid solution. 
 You can see that it did not absorb as much dye.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Battsh*t Crazy

From Urban Dictionary:

A person who is batsh*t crazy is certifiably nuts. The phrase has origins in the old fashioned term "bats in the belfry." Old churches had a structure at the top called a belfry, which housed the bells. Bats are extremely sensitive to sound and would never inhabit a belfry of an active church where the bell was rung frequently. Occasionally, when a church was abandoned and many years passed without the bell being rung, bats would eventually come and inhabit the belfry. So, when somebody said that an individual had "bats in the belfry" it meant that there was "nothing going on upstairs" (as in that person's brain). To be BATSH*T CRAZY is to take this even a step further. A person who is batsh*t crazy is so nuts that not only is their belfry full of bats, but so many bats have been there for so long that the belfry is coated in batsh*t. Hence, the craziest of crazy people are BATSH*T CRAZY.

My Definition: 

Making so many art batts that the next day your arms and neck are killing you!

Yesterday I had a fiber fun day at my friend Adele's House (

We went to town on her Fancy Kitty Drum Carder and boy am I sore today!!! 

1st Layer of fiber is a mystery wool that Adele had

 2nd layer is merino wool

 3rd is shetland wool locks from Lisa Renee Mckenzie
 who I got my wheel from

Final is merino

I packed on so much fiber it was a 3.8 oz batt. I just pick up some fiber, stick it on there, and let it do its thing. All the little teeth on the rollers will align the fiber and blend them together. I say just keep piling it on until its full. I don't have much control over the colors when spinning I just let the fibers spin how they want.

After putting all the layers you want on the drum carter, you then peal the fiber off using the pick like tool (don't think there a name for it) to separate the fibers.

Here you can see all the different layers of the batt

The completed batt!!

I think all of us fiber loving people are a little Battsh*t Crazy sometimes...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

From fiber sorting to pattern decisions

Tabbethia generously gave me three border leicester fleeces. I really had no idea what I was diving into! 

At the farm we skirt, sort and send the raw fiber to a mill that process it into rovings and yarns. I had no idea the amount of work that went into cleaning a fleece. 

One nice day in my mother front yard my husband, dog Layla and I skirted and hand picked through the three fleeces. 

Skirting is the process of removing the belly, leg, face, and head wool from the fleece and usually discarding it. I like to leave it out for the birds or you can also use it as mulch. During shearing most of the belly, face and head fiber will be removed by the shearer but its best to sort through your fleece. The neck is also an area that more then likely you will want to remove because it tends to contain a lot of vegetable matter. 

Sorting wool is really enjoyable to me and my hands! The lanolin which is a natural grease that comes from the sheep is a great moisturizer. Lanolin helps to protect the animals wool and skin against climate and the environment.

While skirting the fleece I discovered that Layla LOVES raw fleece too!

After cleaning the fleeces I saved a few parts that were too matted for yarn. Using wet felting and needle felting I made Layla her own sheep skin rug. I don't think she likes it as much as the smelly wool but it will have to do. I love the way it looks and would love to make a full size one for our living room floor in the future 

While upstate in Cambridge, NY at a fiber processing seminar, I stopped into an antique store. The gentlemen was so sweet and he was showing me everything wool related. He had old skein winders, factory bobbins, wheels and I left with a pair of hand carders. Up to that point I was using Layla's brush to comb the fiber and if you see the pictures of Layla, the brush was really small.

I went home and started carding away! I don't think I will ever get through the fleeces but I did manage to get enough to spin two skeins of two ply yarn using my spinning wheel. 

 I am still not sure what I will make with it, but my husband Nick keeps saying how he wants another scarf. I am thinking an over sized long cabled vest for myself :) 
After the whole process I have a new found respect for yarn! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

A little more about me!

Like many people I find it is hard to describe myself. I have progressed from a knitwear designer to a fiber artist (well I like to think so.) I love fiber and everything about spinning, yarn, knitting and the animals the fiber comes from. 

I started out at the Fashion Institute of Technology before diving into the NYC fashion industry. Although I love fashion and design, I just didn't seem to fit in the whole NYC fashion world.  Personally, I found that I couldn't adequately express my artistic capabilities there. I wanted to find out more about how to make yarn so I took a drop spinning class at The Yarn Company. I loved it and I was instantly hooked. 
My first yarn!

Last summer I went out to the Long Island Fleece and Fiber Fair where I meet Tabbethia Haubold of Long Island Livestock Company. She has a 17 acre fiber farm in Yaphank, NY. She is a professional shearer and specializes in breeding and raising llamas. I was instantly intrigued and had to learn more from her so I went to spent a weekend with her at the farm. That's where I feel in love with llamas and one in particular stole my heart, his name is Insendio. 

After having a fun filled weekend I reluctantly headed back to the city and my job. I let a few days go by before I again called Tabbethia... I needed to work there. So needless to say, I work there now and have been there for about 7 months. I got married and started a new job all in one month! 

Since then fiber has consumed my life! I became part of the Spinning Study Group of Long Island and the Eastern Long Island Knitting Guild. I take every opportunity to learn something new. My dream would be to one day have my own farm and animals! Key word, DREAM.

My blog will be about my findings and experiences in the fiber world. I would love for this to be a place where we can all learn something new because I'm still learning as well.