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Feel the felting, felt the feeling

Ever save something up for yourself, secure in the knowledge it’s going to be an unequivocal delight when you get around to it?

A braid of Corriedale top, prepared for spinning

Plums and Wine Corriedale tops

I’m calling it Plums and Wine. It’s a braid of Corriedale I bought from the local markets when they were having their fibre day. And damn, it was BEDLAM. You’d swear nobody had a chance to buy anything even slightly sheepy the rest of the year. It was kinda sucky. But this braid is so goldang pretty, I’ve been saving it. I promised myself I’d finish up all my other spinning before I started it.

And then I just started it anyway. Hah! Take that, me!

Ever save something up for yourself, sure you’re going to be delighted, and end up utterly disgusted with disappointment?

An undyed centre!

The pale secret at the heart of the braid!

As I began spinning, two things became apparent: the first is that the dye hasn’t penetrated to the heart of the braid. I was pretty smitten with the braid as it appeared, so I’m pretty disappointed to see that you end up with a lot less of the coloured fibre than you originally thought! The second thing is that it’s borderline felted. Yup. Somehow or another, the dyer has semi-felted the fibres into a dense, tangled mass. It’s kinda heartbreaking.

But I am nothing if not persistent. And I’m also downright indignant that some poor Corriedale sheep had to suffer the indignity of being sheared only to have their lovely fleece turned into a matted, poorly-dyed tube of felt! I have resolved to create something beautiful out of this, to restore justice to that poor sheep, wherever they are.

A sample of the spinning from Plums and Wine

Well I’ll be.

And to my astonishment, it’s coming out beautifully! I’ve had to figure out a sort of pre-drafting technique: instead of smoothly easing the fibres from the braid as I spin, I have to prep about a foot or so of fibre, tearing the semi-felt apart, untangling the fibres, thus making it easier to draft while spinning. It’s made a big difference to the single I’m producing. It’s consistent and fine, and the toothiness of the fibres has made it generally less slippery and less prone to breakage. The lack of dye in the heart of the braid creates a heathery, muted effect, and I must admit, I kinda like it!

Wherever that Corriedale sheep is, I hope it’s sleeping easier tonight, knowing that I’ve saved its fibre and brought it to beautiful fruition.

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