This felting lark has taken on a new turn. I was saying to my hubs the other day, ‘You know where this is going to end up don’t you? It started with needle felting, then wet felting, then it will go to carding, and possibly dying and then I will most likely go down the slippery slope and end up spinning wool’. He said, ‘We are going to need a bigger house!’
So, I really want a drum carder. That is the goal, to have one of those so I can card wool and make my own art batts. I was lucky enough to sit with one of the ladies from ‘The Guild’ while she was carding some Alpaca wool with her newish drum carder. As you should know by now, I research everything. There are two manufacturers of drum carders in the UK and the third and fourth are imports. I think one is French and the other is from New Zealand. While researching one thing, I came across another thing. It is called a blending board. How did I not know about this thing?! Which lead to other questions like how come I never knew about felting until I was almost 60! How much time of my life left do I have to do it and make something of it? Am I too old? I think I have found ‘The Thing’! I suppose better late than never and then I remembered the lady who started making pictures and prints when she was 60. She is 70 now.
So, back to the blending board. They are soooo expensive for what they are made of. There are an extremely limited amount of suppliers in the UK of the carding cloth, one in fact. You might be able to get something off of eBay, but I couldn’t find anything at the time of ordering some. In the end, I bought a replacement blending board cloth from a supplier in the Netherlands. With the rate of exchange, I saved 5-6 pounds. That means something when one is on a budget. The hubs had some leftover plywood from a job, so the total layout was what I paid for the cloth and what the hubs paid for some dowelling (2 different sizes) and some hardware, which came to about less than a fiver.
So, this is my new toy. The blending pad is 30x30cm which is approximately 12×12 inches.
It is so pretty, and it is adjustable, so I can have it on my lap. If you google, there are people who have made their own by stapling the fabric onto a chopping board. That is probably what I would have done if I didn’t have a hubs. The cheapest one I found to buy was £85 on eBay, plus £14.99 postage. That was a home made one as well, but not adjustable. I don’t think one would want to sell them for less than that because of the time involved in making the board.
So, what does one do with a blending board? Well, it is a good way of using up the leftover bits of wool one may have lying around that you can’t really make anything with. People who spin wool can make their own rolags and batts for spinning wool on a blending board. You can also make up roving for felting or spinning. I found a video for making an art batt for felting a scarf by the fancy New Zealand company. The whole thing made so much sense to me! It is all about the layout! When one is wet felting a hat or vessel or scarf, you need to alternate the direction of the layers. You can do that on the board. You don’t do that when making roving for spinning as the fibers need to be in the same direction to make it easy to pull out.
I was looking in my stash to make a new hat and I realised that I had hardly any red merino. Certainly not enough to make a hat. But I did have enough to make a cafetière cozy. Or at least I was going to have a go at making one. So I got out all of my red wool stash and started to make an art batt for felting. This is what it looks like.
The photo shows the batt on the board with the finished batts and a close-up. This wool is very red, though the camera likes to give an orange tint to it. I started with some red sari-silk fiber, then some mystery fiber that I got as a freebie from World of Wool (I think there is some silk in it), then 4 layers of bright red merino, two layers of a darker red merino, then two layers of Corriedale tops, finished by two layers of dark red merino. If I was going to make a scarf, I would have laid out the wool differently and ended with the same on both sides. I didn’t need to use any more of my fancy wool as that was all on the outside. I worked out that I would need three batts to make the cozy. The other thing about laying wool out on the board is that the layers are quite thin and most likely thinner than what you would pull off by hand onto the template. Though I have seen people just slap the wool on the board. I suppose that doesn’t matter too much if you are going to spin it.
That’s all for now, tomorrow we make a cafetière cozy!