Anglesey is a beautiful place and is rich with inspiration for any creative types. At this time of year when the weather is getting warmer the fields are littered with wool that the sheep are naturally shedding so while on a walk this week it was the perfect opportunity to go foraging!
Coastal walk from Trearddur Bay to Rhoscolyn.
You can see the Snowdonia Mountains in the background.
These fields are the home to hundreds of sheep and you can find their wool all around, stuck to the gorse bushes and littered all around the place in abundance.
With husband and daughter in tow, we all set about collecting the cleanest looking wool we could find. We probably collected around 200g on the walk, which when cleaned and carded made a fantastic amount to work with.
I'm no expert at this process but a quick youtube visit gave me all the instructions I needed to make the wool workable and clean.
To get the wool from the "field" state to a workable and clean material you only need a few things and a bit of patience.
My main concern with washing the wool was that it would felt up and not be usable but this is only a problem if the wool is agitated with the hot water causing it to felt.
The way to avoid this is to place the wool in a laundry bag (often used for lingerie) and using very hot water with detergent mixed in carefully submerge the bag containing the wool in to the hot soapy water. Leave this for 20 -30 minutes but not until the water is cold as all the lanolin and bits will re-attach. Repeat this process with fresh hot soapy water another 2 times and then with clean water without soap to rinse.
Press down on the bag to remove as much of the water as possible and then take out and leave to dry naturally. (around 24 hours) **Do not twist or squeeze the fibres together as they may felt** .
When the fibres are dry, there will still be some little bits which have not been removed such as little twigs etc and these can now be removed by carding them. This will also de tangle any wool fibres.
I simply used two dog grooming brushes. Very cheap and easy to use.
Working on a small amount at a time work the brushes in opposite directions until all the fibres run the same way and they are clean and fluffy.
After this step the wool fibre is ready to use.
As with all my designs, all the sheep parts were knitted first. For this design I used an aran weight wool in natural and charcoal. Each piece was then felted and dried before stuffing and then the collected wool was attached to the body using a needle felting needle.
I'm really pleased with the result and the added satisfaction from using something that I have collected myself and re-used is definitely a massive plus point.
If you wanted to try this out to make your own sheep simply buy the pattern and yarn. However if you prefer to have everything ready in a handy kit, then this will be available from my store very soon with everything you need to make the sheep.
If you have any questions about this or any of my other designs, please get in touch.