Some while back one of my spinning friends suggested that when I order Botany Lap Waste that I order more than one bag as there is never enough of one color for a project. She suggested 2 or more, so I ordered 4 bags. That was two kilos worth. I ended up with a lot of black, white, gray and brown. So much for any really pretty colors. In hindsight, I should have realised that as a spinner, it really wouldn’t matter too much what type the wool was as long as it was soft and you could spin it. I don’t know how to do that yet. I can just about get something going on the drop spindle.
I realised that not all of the wool was merino when I wet felted some skinny scarves.
You can see how wavy the wool is here. I really love this scarf as it is very soft, but it took a lot of hard work to felt nicely. That’s when someone suggested I might have some alpaca. Since then, I have been making small samples with the unlabeled wool. That is how I learned that some lovely gray wool I wanted to use for a stripy scarf wasn’t merino.
Just look at that roving, so soft and pretty, but then it didn’t want to play nice.
Being me, I just had to find out what it was and how it would felt. The rest you know as I did the experiments. First, I felted the wool on its own, and then I felted the wool mixed with merino. Here is what they look like side by side.
Although my sample sizes were slightly larger with the merino added, all of the pieces with merino felted smaller than with the Alpaca on its own. Yes, according to my people on Facebook, the consensus was that it was Alpaca and that Sample D was probably superwash or synthetic. To recap, I did a burn test on all of the samples, even the merino, and they singed and smelled like burned hair. Therefore, they were animal hair and should felt. I have learned that Alpaca can be slippery to felt and will go wavy. It is not an easy felter on its own and anyone that says you can felt with it, but it just takes longer is having a laugh. I fulled these down as far as they would go using all the techniques to full wool hard. Granted that there are only two layers on these samples, which is why they are nice and soft, I still should have got a tighter knit on them.
Here is a closeup of them for comparison.
This was the hairiest and hardest to felt. It felt slippery and squeaky, even with the merino added to it. It also has the most holes.
This is my lovely merino sample.
This Alpaca felted the quickest and was the most dense of the three. You can see that on its own it is quite wavy. I have decided to keep this Alpaca wool as I think it might make a good hat. Mixed with natural gray merino, I ended up with a dense and flexible sample.
This one was the biggest surprise of all as on its own it wouldn’t felt at all. I didn’t have high hopes for this even mixed with wool, but it surprised me. Mixed with merino, it didn’t felt down as much as the others, but considering it wouldn’t do anything on its own, this is a really good result. The sample with wool had a lot of little holes, like cobweb and if more layers were used that probably wouldn’t be much of an issue. You could probably make a hat from it, but it will take you twice as long to full it down to size. The density of the sample was also not as tight as in Sample C, so I am going to give this roving to my friend along with Sample A.
All in all, I ended up with fully felted samples (except for Sample D on its own) that are sturdy and still flexible. I considered not ordering Botany Lap Waste again, but one of the ladies on FB suggested that in the instructions to let the supplier know you don’t want superwash or synthetic roving as it is being used for felting. You may still get Alpaca though.
Someone asked me what I am going to do with the samples I made and so I will keep a binder with the samples in with some basic notes. I also have this blog as a reference. I’ve already bagged and labelled it all up! For someone who doesn’t usually make samples this is a big step for me. It was a bit time consuming, but worth it. Anyway, as I am still self-isolating, what else am I going to do? I might as well learn something! 🙂