Wet Felting With Gotland Locks

IMG_0696I saw a video tutorial using Gotland locks and decided I needed to have some.  There aren’t many distributors in the UK at a reasonable price, but I managed to find some.  The locks above are washed.  The first thing I noticed when I opened the packet is the smell.  It smells like sheep.  It is not smelly, just like sheep.  The second thing was how soft the locks actually were.  Some fun facts about Gotland Sheep.

They are very cute. Ramlamb_no._114367-00009_(Official_Danish_animal_register)Image by Jens Bonderup Kjeldsen from Wikipedia

The sheep is named after an island in Sweden and are from an ancient breed.  They are raised for their wool and for their meat.  They are friendly and inquisitive and the ewes make great mothers.  The fleece contains little lanolin and is great for making sturdy garments.  The fleece comes in various shades of grey to silver.

So, to get started with my sample, I laid out an 8 inch square of 23micron merino wool in natural white.

IMG_0697I wet the wool and folded the edges before placing the locks on top.  I tried to make sure that the cut ends were sitting on top of the base.  I have not used Gotland locks before and there are many ways that people use them.  There isn’t much on YouTube for wet felting with Gotland locks.  After placing the locks on top, I added a bit more soapy water and rolled the piece.  After a bit of rolling and rubbing on the back, this is what I got.

IMG_0702We are still damp here.  I tried to pull up some of the curls, but most of it matted and felted down.  I am surprised how quickly the locks felted into the wool.  I rinsed out the soap and then let is soak in clean water with hair conditioner for 10 minutes.  I hoped it would loosen some of the hairs, but it didn’t as much as I would have liked.  To me, this looks meh!  I made another sample the same size as before.

IMG_0704This time I put more thought in laying out the locks.  I put the blunt ends down and placed them in shingle fashion so that the curly parts were on top.  I also used less soap.  I did some rolling, but in-between rolls I pulled up the locks carefully.  After four turns of rolling I fluffed the piece to full it.  I worked with the lock upwards mostly.  I did a little bit of tossing and some rubbing on the back. 

IMG_0706You can see how the locks migrated through two layers of wool.  This side is a bit itchy and if you were to wear it next to your skin, you would need to use a finer wool and use a reasonable amount of viscose on this side to make it more wearable.  The lock side is actually quite soft in comparison.IMG_0705

Here they are both dry.  The curls look a bit better on the first one I made on the left, and drying it brought out some more of the curls. The second one I am ecstatic about.  It definitely pays to take your time on the layout for a really curly look.  The first one would be ok for a bag, but if you want your bag to be amazing, take more time with the layout.  As I said before, I was really surprised how soft the curls are.  I just want to cuddle them.  And they don’t smell much like sheep anymore.  🙂