An important element in my artwork is showing the sense of hand. Recently I’ve been working toward gaining skills to increase this aspect of my work. I was lucky to find an embroidery class at Artistic Artifacts with Ruth Chandler of Textile Evolution where I learned an incredible 18 embroidery stitches in one day. Last year I learned how to dye fabric and fiber at Artistic Artifacts. This all feeds my love for fiber, texture and color. I also love sheep, their wool, texture, and color and all were in abundance at The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, sponsored by the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association, Inc. and held at the Howard County Fairgrounds in Maryland last weekend.
There were over 1000 sheep and 40 different varieties.
The following photos are some of the different types of fleece.
I absolutely LOVE the colorway of all the yarn that was available. The yearly show is a knitters paradise.
It’s a fun filled weekend of live animals, arts, crafts, supplies and more. Vendors were selling food, sheep, yarn, and everything one would need to make yarn including….
…fleece straight from the backs of the sheep.
It’s an arduous process to wash and dry the fleece without ‘felting’ it. Apparently, any agitation during the washing process binds the fiber in a way that causes it to felt. The goal is to keep the strands separated so the wool can be spun or used as locks.
I worked a long time getting a small amount of clean fleece by hand washing and rinsing. Water must be kept to a certain temperature and agitation must be avoided. My fibers didn’t appear to bind into felt, even though, during the drying process, the washing machine spin cycle accidentally threw rinse water on the fleece. I stopped it quickly as I’d read that agitation of any kind was a big no no.
At the end, when I saw the clean fleece, I decided it was definitely worth it.
The never again part comes because this requires a better set up to do properly. I washed and rinsed the fleece in a small bucket which is not the best scenario for this type of intensive process. I will send off the larger merino fleece to a mill to be washed and processed.
I gained a huge appreciation for the spinners and the dyers who make their own yarn. I’ve been playing with new ideas, yarns and fibers and the direction is intriguing. I’ve tested the extreme end of trying to make my own yarn and I’m happy being somewhere between making my own yarn, dying fibers myself, hand stitching and using a sewing machine for stitching. It will be interesting to see where the new knowledge and skills takes me.