What is it? According to World of Wool: ‘56’s English Wool Top is a standard blend of white English breed fleeces, producing a bulky wool top. Approx. 33microns with good length of 90mm. Perfect for hand spinning, hand felting and many other craft uses.’
I just tried spinning with it as it is inexpensive and as I really don’t know how to spin yet I didn’t want to waste fancy wool. The wool is quite lofty with a lot of crimp. I wasn’t successful at trying to spin it even though I drafted out the roving, it kept breaking. That could be that my machine needs oiling and a bit of servicing and not that I am crap at spinning. My wheel needs servicing and I am waiting for the equipment to do that.
Why do I have this? Because I read a blog post where someone successfully used it in wet felting a rug. It is also £1.50 per 100g, so is quite cheap, inexpensive, whatever. So, I shall practice treadling on my wheel until my maintenance equipment arrives. In the meantime, I decided to felt a square sample to see how it actually felts.
I laid out two layers 10 x 10 squares square, which is approximately 10 inches square. The staple is about 3 inches long and stiff, almost like roving rather than tops. You can see how lofty it is.
After wetting out I turned the edges to make them even again. I added only a little bit of soap, which it loved. I sanded on both sides and then rubbed a little bit more when it passed the pinch test. I then rolled 50x on all four sides. I could see it was starting to shrink, so I rolled it on itself. This wool likes to be wet, warm, and a bit soapy. The wool started to bind really quickly, but it didn’t want to shrink. I whacked it in the microwave to heat up and that helped. I fulled it on the bubble wrap and with a bamboo mat. It took about an hour to felt down one square and another hour to felt down another. That’s about 20% shrinkage.
You can see it is fully felted and a bit hairy. There is only a very slight give to it if I try to stretch it. I could probably have fulled it a bit more with boiling water, but after 2 hours I was losing the will to live.
Here is a close up of the fibers.
I can see how it would make a great rug, but you would need to do it over a couple of days to give yourself a rest. I am going to try and dye this sample to see how that works. If the dye takes, I shall dye the whole batch and make a small rug for myself, at the very least, it will end up as a wall hanging!