Thursday, December 2, 2010

Waldorf Wool Stockpile

 I have the extremely good fortune of living near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a fiber artist's Disneyland for supplies.  Yesterday was a stormy day but I spent it down in a Lancaster County woolen mill stocking up on wool for the winter dye sessions starting soon.  Pictured in 3 rolled bundles is the Waldorf Wool.  I called it that myself because it is very different from any other wool I have collected so far in my stash from wool shows and shops.  It is a very fine, short staple wool that I find is essential for creating the fine detail in machine needle felted paintings.  Other commercial wools have longer fibers and smooth finishes, that the spinners and weavers like, but they are often  slippery and awkward to use when detail is required and small spaces, holes or bald spots are needed to be covered with a very fine and crimped shorter wool.  I also found that the finer commercial Merino can be so slick, it doesn't cover well and I end up overworking my piece with the needle felting machine because of it.  I named it Waldorf, because this mill supplies the Association of Waldorf Schools of America with their wool.  Leaning next to the Waldorf Wool is a bump of roving (that's what the tightly twisted ropy looking bundle is called).  This is a longer staple wool made up of various fine sheep breed wools.  It is best used when longer "lines" are needed in a wool painting. It works great for distant tree branches, among other things.   It is comparable to commercial rovings in length except it is also hand-dyed and it's fine crimp enables it to felt more easily than commercial Merino  rovings which can be so smooth they don't cover the surface well.   Pictured immediately below is the mill carding machine itself, from the mid 1800's, still in operation after 6 generations of wool production.  Next are the finished bundles of Waldorf wool along with the roving "bump" I will dye and use in my work.  The last picture shows  the Waldorf Wool after it has been dyed and ready to use in a project.

Carding Machine Front End

Carding Machine Back End
Raw Carded Waldorf Wool Bundles With Roving Bump

Dyed Waldorf Wool Ready to Felt

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