Trying New Yarn

I went to my local haberdashers to see what yarns were on offer as they were having a sale.  I was mainly looking for blue.  Considering I have a lot of blue roving, I have very little blue yarn.  My blues are divided into warm Mediterranean blue-greens and cool blues.

IMG_0654Here is a sample of the cool blues I purchased today.  I already had the handspun, and the mohair I purchased some time ago from a charity shop and I know that they both felt.  

  • A. Patons Colour Mix – 75% Acrylic, 25% Virgin Wool – Machine Washable
  • B. Handspun Merino Mix – made by a Guild friend
  • C. Bergere of France Tweed – 53% Acrylic, 30% Wool, 12% Polyamide, 5% Mohair
  • D. Sirdar Snuggly Bouclette – 37% Wool, 36% Nylon, 27% Acrylic
  • E. Mohair
  • F. King Cole Twirly Tweed – 80% Acrylic, 18% Wool, 2% Viscose

As you can see above, most of the yarns contain very little wool.  I have been told that you must have a high percentage of wool in the yarn being used for felting, and if not then you should couch it with wool.  I am beginning to think that is a myth.  I have felted with superwash mohair and have had no problems.  It is probably wise to make samples if you are not sure that the yarn will felt onto your work, so I decided to make a sample to see how well the yarns felted.  I was inspired by a tutorial by Natasha Smart Textiles.  I figured that if I was going to make a sample, I might as well make a pretty one.

Unfortunately I do not have process photos for this piece.   I decided to use my cool blue merino in the 23micron.  Surprisingly, I now have very little of 23micron in this colorway and had to use leftovers.  I used a pale blue that I thought was corriedale (it came in a mixed bag of wool) but happily turned out to be 23mic merino for the top half of the base and a dark blue for the bottom.

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I made 3 layers in the traditional layout in a 10 inch square.  I then wet it out with soapy water and folded the edges before laying out the yarns.  I used two strands of each color.  I then used some blue bamboo on the top and some pale blue viscose on the bottom.  Looking at this photo, I could have used more fiber.  I used the sander to adhere the yarns.  They were all stuck down at the prefelt stage, and as you can see after felting, they are all stuck to the wool.  The piece is now 7.5 inches x 6 inches which is about a 30-35% shrinkage and what I would expect for 3 layers and 23mic merino.  If I had added another layer, this piece would have been more square as I had two layers in the horizontal and only one on the verticle.  This is a nice sturdy felt, suitable for a bag or vessel.  This sample will also make a nice coaster!

I made another sample in 18.5-19mic merino and left out the mohair as it migrated through the wool and is really quite hairy.  I used a version of herringbone layout that I have used for scarves before as I want to see how these yarns felt with less wool under them as I might want to use them in scarves in the future.  This is what I used below.  I swapped out the handspun to a white one my friend made me and I used the Rowan Cosy instead of the mohair.

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Here is my layout.

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And with the yarns laid out.

IMG_0661I didn’t add as many pieces as before as I really wanted to see the yarn.

IMG_0662This is after sanding on one side for about 5 minutes in different directions.  As you can see, I added more viscose and bamboo this time and everything is stuck down.  This is where I would stop for pre-felt.

IMG_0664Here we are after 800 rolls.  The piece shrunk from 10×10 inches to 9.5 x 8.5 inches.

IMG_0665And this is where we are, all fulled (and still damp).  I have a very thin and flexible felt that would be perfect for a scarf, mittens or hat.  You can see each piece of yarn, and when you hold up the sample to the light, there is a nice lacy effect with no holes.  I did not felt this the same way as the first piece because I am more gentle in the fulling stage with wearables.  A lot of hand rubbing goes on here to tighten up the felt and working on the edges. To be fair, I didn’t work on this nearly as long as the first piece as I used less layers and finer wool which made it felt more quickly. 

This piece is currently 8.23 x 5.5 inches.  It is interesting to note how much the wool shrank in the width due to the layout and how little it shrank in the length and this is what you want for a scarf in this layout.  This is also why it is a good idea to make samples when trying something new.

I bought some other yarns in different colors and will be making more samples in different colorways.  I am at a standstill as to what my next project will be, so this is taking my mind off of that and still keeping me busy after finishing a stressful work contract.  It is good to have a hobby that is relaxing and productive. 🙂