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