I haven’t worked much with prefelt but I recently got some different kinds to try (from Wingham Wool Work) and these are some exercises I’ve been doing with lines and marks using different prefelts and different fibres.

This is Blue-faced Leicester on black Merino prefelt, before and after felting. Some of the fibres were wetted before laying them down, or laid onto wetted prefelt, and these retain more definition, I think.

preparing handmade felt

handmade felt

Update: I realised when I looked again at the notes I made for this next one that I had mixed up the order of the first two – it’s Shetland on the left and BFL next (now corrected).

This is the same prefelt, but exploring different fibres. Each group of three lines shows: untwisted fibres, dry twisted fibres, wet twisted fibres. From left to right the fibre is: Blue-faced Leicester, Shetland Shetland, Blue-faced Leicester, Merino, Teeswater, Massam. I love using Merino for felting but to be more sustainable I would prefer to find a UK alternative, the more local the better, and only use Merino when nothing else will do. Of these fibres the Shetland BFL has a lovely quality of line and is much less ‘hairy’ than the Teeswater and the Massam, almost as smooth as the Merino. The BFL Shetland is somewhere in between.

handmade felt

This is Merino on white Merino prefelt, I do love these lines.

handmade felt

This is Shetland fibre on Norwegian prefelt. It’s a much coarser prefelt but I like it more than I expected.

handmade felt

Here I made the prefelt first myself from Merino fibres (because I wanted the colours), laying out the fibres in random directions and then using a version of the dry rolling method described by Treetops Colour Harmonies in Australia. I used Merino for the lines too, dampened and twisted by rolling a little between my fingers. It’s just a small experiment in drawing with felt. I really enjoy the way the line crinkles as the felt shrinks.

handmade felt

One of the advantages of Merino, apart from softness and sheen, is the huge range of ready dyed colours. Does anyone have a source for dyed Shetland (and BFL!) tops in more than a few colours? And/or any other breeds to try? Bowmont?  I do have some lovely Shetland cross fleece grown here on Tiree, in a couple of natural colours which I’m going to try dyeing myself as well.

Drawing with fibres

3 thoughts on “Drawing with fibres

  • January 23, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    The Woolshed on Orkney has some dyed Shetland. It tends to be small quantities of subtly variegated colours rather than the huge range of flat repeatable colours you can buy merino in.

  • September 19, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    Have you done any dyeing in the microwave? I use the procion mx on raw scoured fleece in small quantities with great success. It’s so quick to do. 5 minutes on medium and then rinsing in hot tap water, so there is no shock, works just as well as any more long winded process. Waiting for it to dry is the hard part 😉

    Love the felting experiments you’ve done!

    • September 19, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks, Helen, that does sound straightforward – I haven’t done any, mainly because I only have room for one microwave and we use it for food! But we’ve just acquired a small caravan that I plan to turn into an outdoor room to extend my workspace so it might not be too long before I have a bit more room to manoeuvre!

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