Mystery Fiber – What Is It?

A while back I bought a large pack of Botany Lap Waste from World of Wool.  I talked about that here when I made some skinny scarves.  One of my spinning friends suggested buying some.  I guess for her it is a good investment as she can make batts and spin from it.  I have learned from a felting standpoint that it can be hit or miss as you don’t really know what fiber you are getting and some of it may not felt.

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When I was making my stripy scarves, I wanted to use a soft gray for one of the stripes.  These grays came in the Botany Lap Waste.  They are super soft.  Having learned from my previous experience, I made a quick sample to see if they would felt and you can see above what happened.  The one on the left was sticking a bit and had holes and the one on the right was not sticking at all.  In fact, you can pull the two layers apart.  So I left it.

I decided to revisit the wool because if I wasn’t able to use it for felting, I might be able to use it for spinning.  Or rather get one of my spinning friends to spin it up for me once lockdown was over.  So I got some rovings I was unsure of and decided to felt them properly.

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Here they are laid out in 8 squares square.  I used 2 layers.  I had some unlabelled black roving that I was quite sure was merino (B).  That would be my control.  Here is a close up below.

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After wetting out, I needed to add some extra roving on C as it looked really thin.  So I wet and soaped and gave a bit of a rub and then I sanded on both sides.  This is what they looked like after sanding.

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A spread out to nearly 9 squares in width, shrunk about a square and C and had very little shrinkage at this point and A,C, and D all had holes.  Square B was the only one to pass the pinch test, so I did some more rubbing on the others.  The extra rubbing wasn’t doing much so I decided to call it an afternoon and left it until the next morning.

Here is a closer look.

I unwrapped my samples the next morning and it seemed that the rest overnight was better, but still not quite passing the pinch test.  I rubbed a bit more, but all was at a standstill, so I decided to full them starting with the merino (B).  I managed to full it down to 5 squares square.  It shrunk 3 squares all around and I have a very nice piece of firm felt.  I then continued with sample A.  I rubbed, rolled on a wooden rolling pin and nothing was happening.  So I got a little bit of soap and warm water and rubbed it on the bubble wrap and that started to do something.  I also rubbed the felt in my hands and threw it down.  After what seemed like an eternity, I managed to full it down from nearly 9 squares wide to 7 squares x 6.  There are a lot of holes in it and it is quite hairy.  One of things I noticed in the fulling process was how slippery it was and it also felt a bit squeaky when rubbing it between my fingers.  I continued to sample B.  Sample B took less time to full down than sample A.  I rubbed and rolled.  I managed to full it from 8 squares to 6.5 squares.  It also has holes.  When I got to sample D I skipped rolling on the pin altogether and tried to just full it on the bubble wrap. It didn’t like what I was doing and I needed to stop as the piece was falling apart just as it did the first time, even though I was being gentle with it.

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Here they are drying in the sun.  I did a burn test and they are all animal hair.  From my books, Alpaca can be slippery to felt and it goes wavy, so I do think that what I have is most likely Alpaca.  Sample C has the least amount of holes of the Alpacas while D has the most and wouldn’t felt.  It has been suggested that D may be superwash.  We will see.  The next step is to now add some merino to it.  I shall be making batts on the blending board and will mix them with the black merino (sample A) and see what happens.