Felting vessels using wool from rare or less usual breeds

Maureen and I have spent an action packed 3 days catching up, eating, drinking, sourcing supplies, visiting Cushendale Woolen Mills and Threads of Green (a wonderful sewing supplier in Kilkenny) as well as felting vessels using wool from rare or less usual breeds of sheep!  This work was to support Feltmakers Ireland in their drive to have a large display of vessels felted from less usual fibres on display at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust annual show at Gosford Park in Northern Ireland this coming weekend.  The only criteria was that 80% of the fibre used for each vessel had to be from a rare breed and there needed to be an opening in each piece because the public are being asked to drop a note in their favourite one and the vessel with the most notes will win a lovely Wensleydale fleece!

Cleaned and carded Zwartbles with collar of Finnish raw locks

My first vessel was felted from beautiful Zwartbles with a collar of raw Finnish locks, thanks Chrissie for the Zwartbles and thanks Carmen for the locks!

Maureen spent the first evening carding like crazy for her planned vessel, unfortunately I can’t remember the second fibre she used but I do know that they were both white and one of them was Wensleydale.  I liked her idea of felting in a metal chain and sink plug, fun!!!

Maureen with her funky vessel!

My second vessel was a large bowl felted using dyed Kainuu Grey wool.  This is a rare Finnish landrace sheep favoured by wonderful felters Rod and Karolina who specialise in large rugs and wall pieces, thanks again Chrissie for this fibre!  I wanted to see how easy it would be to machine embroider a wide, shallow vessel.  I didn’t have any difficulty actually holding the felt under the needle but I had HUGE problems with the viscose and rayon speciality threads breaking when stitching through the thick, softish felt.  Obviously this had to be a tension problem because there was no difficulty when I used polyester thread, I did try all sorts of different settings on the machine but hopefully when I have some more practice all will sort itself out with time.  Once the stitching was finished I shaped the vessel by steaming it over a large glass salad bowl.  This enabled me to create a deeper centre because I had been worried that it would be difficult to stitch inside the centre if the rim was too high.  I left the outside edge of the felt a little bit ruffled and hopefully now that the vessel has dried it will hold its shape on the long drive up to Gosford Park!

Large felt vessel with free machine embroidery


10 thoughts on “Felting vessels using wool from rare or less usual breeds

  1. It was beautiful fluffy white Southdown fibre mixed with the Wensleydale, Nicola. Without adding the Wensleydale the Southdown remained lovely and fluffy, but definitely not felt! My second vessel was made using Black Hebridean that I got at a previous Gosford show and I carded it with some Massam. Thanks Carmen for the loan of your carder.

  2. Nicole – do you think SILK thread would work with your new machine? I just read an article suggesting the use of white silk on ANY color fabric because it blends right in. Perhaps you could use colored silk thread…just a thought.

  3. Nicola …..love that felted vessel with machine embroidery….stunning colours. I am soooo impressed that you have a super sewing machine ….congratulations:) your creativity will flow even more now !

  4. I loved the yellow vessel, the stitching and pattern look great and the whole piece is just lovely, great work Nicole!! I am back to my free motion on my hideously old reliable kenmore dreaming of your new machine..lol

  5. Wow these look great and hello to Maureen!!! So funny to see faces I’ve met. As far as the thread breaking issue goes you end up finding the brand that will work in your machine. Not all brands will. Remember I had that metal thread that was fine in my machine but would not work in the one in Denmark? Definitely fiddle with everything you can but in the end you will work with what works.

  6. Good morning Nicola,

    I love all three of these vessels…Great job with your fiber experimentation. Nicola, you and your stitching abilities are amazing! I’m not usually a yellow person, but I’ve had a change of heart…This vessel is absolutely fantastic (and I love the ruffled edge, too). Maureen must be very creative…Her hanging solution is such a fun idea…Love her vessel, too.

    Oh, and speaking of Rod and Karoliina, they were both at Snow Farm last week. Their students made some of the most amazing felt samples and later, rugs. Even the flat sample pieces that they made were so well felted and hard that they were able to stand with no support.

    Hope you’re having a great day.


  7. Nicola: I love all the vessels, but especially the yellow one! You are inspiring me to try some free-motion stitching on felt ……. oh dear, something else to buy….. Very clever idea, too, of Maureen’s with the chain & sink stopper. Love the “on-location” photography, too!

  8. I love that yellow vessel! Way too cool. I’ve got big plans for my weekend of trying out needlefelting some locks on a vessel to make a nice fuzzy collar, it looks so delightful.

    I’m also very impressed at your sewing skills – when I took your class in Kalamazoo you expressed such a hatred of needle and thread that I can’t believe you’ve become an expert overnight in the machine embroidery. It adds an amazing dimension to the felt, so I’m definitely going to have to find someone with a machine and give it a go.


Please comment if you feel like it, I love the interactive nature of my blog!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s