Friday, April 8, 2016

FIBERSHED events this month

Spring is an energizing time in the fibershed, from new lambs to new skill-building opportunities. Our events calendar is filled with ways to learn more about regenerative fiber systems and connect with community – read through for a few exciting events coming soon!

Pastoralism Prevailing
A conversation with Joel Salatin in beautiful Bolinas, California
April 17, 2- 5 pm
BCB and Joel Salatin in Conversation

Join us in bringing forward a new vision for pastoralism -- an agrarian focused body of work that stands as a nexus point for restoring ourselves and our land. Hosted by Bay Area Shephardess Brittany Cole Bush, the young woman that Fibershed is supporting to advance the emergent Grazing School of The West. Learn how the work of the new pastoralists promotes carbon sequestration, health of soil & water, good food, fiber & the pursuit of happiness, as we dine and imbibe during this inspiring discussion led by Joel Salatin, Brittany Cole Bush, Rebecca Burgess, and others in support of regional land stewardship businesses.
The Peace Barn
73 Olema Bolinas Rd, Bolinas, CA 94924
Click here to purchase tickets ($50+)

On the Edge of Urban
Farm to Table Dinner and Farm & Fiber Education Days
Fibershed of the Greater Northwest Affiliate, Snohomish, WA
May 21 - 22
Greater NW Fibershed Dinner

Enjoy a Farm to Table dinner on May 21st, 2016 with a reception and natural farm-to-fiber fashion show. Visiting author Erin Axelrod, permaculture & indigo expert of the Northern California Fibershed and LIFT Economy, will share success stories from Fibershed. The evening highlight will include a display of beautifully designed fiber accessories and garments by local artisans in the "Hall of Fibers."  
Dinner will be prepared by a trio of local resaturant-owner chefs using local farm ingredients paired with regional wines and local beer. This event is a fundraiser to raise awareness for Washington farming and specifically women in farming.  Join the Fibershed of the Greater Northwest Affiliate member and celebrate the connection between farmers and the local fibershed. The Farm to Table Dinner is nestled into this 2 day educational event; tickets are available separately and or as part of the weekend event.
Longneckers Alpaca & Fiber Ranch
Lake Stevens, WA
Click here to purchase tickets ($150+)

Learn to Weave
at Meridian Jacobs
April 23 – 24 in Vacaville, CA
Robin Weaving_PGP

Learn all the steps of weaving in a two-day class! You will learn how to plan a weaving project, prepare the warp, thread the loom, and weave plain weave and twill variations on a 4-shaft floor loom, taught by Robin Lynde, on the farm at Meridian Jacobs. Robin is a shepherd, weaver, and teacher whose work has been featured in regional art galleries and Fibershed fashion shows.
Click here for details and registration

Fiber Art Fair Tomorrow

20th Annual
Stephenson County Fiber Art Fair
Saturday, April 9, 2016
9 am to 5 pm
at the Jane Addams Community Center
430 W. Washington Street
Cedarville, Illinois  61013  USA
(815) 541-0897  

A celebration of fiber and the fiber arts with workshops, demonstrations of spinning and weaving, vendors offering fibers for spinning plus finished yarn, dyes, books, gifts, equipment, handmade soap and baskets.  Also supplies for spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, dyeing, tatting and crochet.  
Admission is $2 for adults and free for children under 12.
Mailing List
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If you want to receive a brochure by snail mail only (no e-mail copy), or if you just don't like forms, then send an e-mail with your address to

For More Information
I hope I have answered any question you could possibly have on this site, but if not, e-mail Suzy Beggin Craft at or call me at 815-541-0897. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Exotics from feltandfiberstudios blog

Yak, Mongolian, Churro and Zwartbles Fibers

Our Guest Artist/Author today is Zara Tuulikki Rooke sharing her experience with some exotic fiber samples.
The Felting and Fiber Studio Forum is an excellent place to exchange ideas and experiences with other felters and fiber enthusiasts around the world. In addition, I have also done a couple of fiber swaps with other members on the forum. I have sent wool from our Swedish sheep breeds and have, in return, received a wonderful variety of fabrics and different types of wool and other fibers that can be used for felting. Now I have tried felting some of the exotic wool that I have received from Nada, Zed and Marilyn.
Nada, who lives in Slovenia, very kindly sent me Yak wool, which she got directly from nomads from Tibet. Apparently, Yaks have three different types of fibers; long and thick hairs forming the outer coat (79-90 microns), an intermediate type (20-50 microns), and a very fine and dense wooly undercoat (16-20 microns). The softness/fineness of the yak undercoat is comparable to the better known cashmere wool (which is a fine undercoat of goats). This particular carded batt also included some coarser fibers, but most of it was very fine wool. I laid out two thin layers of wool, on a 20 cm x 20 cm ( 7.87 x 7.87") surface, put on a piece of cotton gauze, and attempted to felt it.
1 Yak
The Yak wool was surprisingly easy to felt. It quickly shrank down to a compact square of 10 cm x 10 cm (3.94 x 3.94"), and the fabric has felted in firmly. The coarser fibers give the felted piece a hairy appearance and reduce the softness, but I can imagine how luxurious pure, soft undercoat wool from Yak must be.
2 Yak
Zed, who lives in England, sent me some carded wool labeled "Mongolian." A search on the Internet showed that there are quite a few local breeds of sheep in Mongolia, and crosses with imported breeds with finer wool. I found an article titled Sheep breeds of Mongolia describing 15 of their indigenous breeds of fat-tailed carpet-wool sheep. Our Swedish native breeds belong to the group Northern short-tailed sheep, while the sheep in the group fat-tailed sheep are adapted to harsh environmental conditions and are common in Africa and Asia.
Sheep breeds of Mongolia link:
I didn't get any closer than that in the identification of the wool, but the carded wool feels like a mixture of coarse and slightly finer fibers, mostly black or dark brown (perhaps sun-bleached) with occasional white fibers. To be able to compare this to other wool, I chose the same method as I have used to make previous samples, i.e. 10 g of wool laid out in four thin layers to cover an area of 20 cm x 20 cm, and on top of it a piece of gauze. The wool was very easy to felt and full, and shrank to 12.5 cm x 12.5 cm (4.92 x 4.92"). Compared to Swedish wool, the felted piece feels similar to those I felted with wool from our landrace breeds Klövsjö and Åsen, although slightly rougher to the touch.
3 Mongolian
Marilyn, who lives in the US, sent me wool from the American breed Navajo-Churro. The breed has its origin in the Spanish breed Churra, which the Spaniards brought with them when they colonized, what is now, the southwest of USA. Navajo Indians got hold of the sheep and saw a value in the wool, from which they made carpets and other weaved textiles. The breed's origins, near disappearance and subsequent rescue, and its significance for Navajo culture and textile crafts, is a really interesting read. More on that can be found at The Navajo-Churro Sheep Association and The Navajo Sheep Project.
The Navajo-Churro Sheep Association link:
The Navajo Sheep Project link:
The Navajo-Churro have a variety of colors, and three types of fibers. About 80% of the fleece consists of undercoat wool (10-35 microns), and the rest is coarser outer coat hairs (35+ microns) and less than 5% kemp (65+ microns). This wool was also easy to felt and full, although it didn't shrink quite as much as the above. The final size was 15 cm x 15 cm  (5.9 x 5.9"), and it has quite a hairy appearance. In the photos below you can see the pure white kemp fibers that do not felt. But I like the rustic look and the different tones in the brown wool.
4 Churro
Zed also sent me some wool from Zwartbles sheep, which is a breed from the Netherlands, primarily used as meat and dairy sheep. The wool is black to sun-bleached brown, and the sheep have a white blaze on the face (hence the name “black” + “blaze”) and white socks on 2-4 legs. Pictures and more information about the breed can, for example, be found on The Zwartbles Sheep Association link.

The wool is described as medium to fine (around 27 microns), thick and springy with a good crimp, and popular for spinning and felting. The latter surprised me, because to me this wool personifies all the descriptions I have read about wool from meat breeds, which are generally considered difficult to felt. It is really spongy and bulky, without any shine, and even makes a slightly crunchy sound when you handle it. I would describe this wool as something that should be excellent to use as pillow stuffing. But maybe it works well for needle-felting, and I actually found some examples on the internet where people vowed that it was good for wet-felting. So, I had to give it a try. It was not easy to press the wool down and start the felting process with soap and water, but after a while, the fibers began latching into each other. Then I tried fulling, with a little rougher handling, and then it started to disintegrate completely. The very loosely felted and spongy piece is the same size as it was from the beginning, and I am astonished that piece keeps together at all. Different types of wool definitely have their different uses, and this would not be my first choice for wet-felting.
5 ZwartblesZara, thank you for your insightful and detailed analysis of these fibers!
WHERE TO BUY (from Nunofeltdesigns):  You can find these fibers, often listed as "exotics" on Etsy, at Opulent Fibers (usually only available until they sell out) at WC Mercantile, on eBay and at Apple Rose Farm's online store.  I love Churro for vessels and shapes since it is a long and thick fiber that felts very fast --- but I am not a fan of Yak which is much more suitable for wearables because it is so soft and has a rich, felted texture.  My customers have an aversion to Yak and just don't want to wear it.....and it is quite expensive.  At such a high cost, I would rather use real cashmere fibers which, yes, are a lot harder to nuno felt, but the results always justify their cost.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2 BOOKS on nuno felting techniqes from NUNOFELTDESIGNS

Create better, more intricate nuno felt faster!

TOPICS include:
Part 1: How to use the new tools including the Palm Washboard, Edge Tool, Felting Stone & Felting Mat
Part 2: Tumbler Dryer Method & Shelf Liner Shortcuts, Rolling Machines - what they do, where to buy
Part 3: Importance of Color in Nuno Felting including How to Work with White, Using Non-Wool Fibers, Using Cotton Base Fabrics, Prefelts & Batts, & What went wrong - my fibers fell off?!
Part 4: How to make an Infinity Loop, add Ruffles to your designs on the edges and inside, make Felt Lace, the Two Layer Technique, Mosaic Nuno Felt, add how to quickly make and add Prefelt Swirls as a design element
Part 5: List of sources for supplies including fibers, tools and fabric


Kindle COVER
Kindle Digital Edition*:

PRINT Edition on***:
*NOTE: The Kindle digital edition is readable on all Apple and Android devices including tablets and smartphones using free Kindle Reader software.


NFT&T has hundreds of secrets and tips for how to nuno felt better and faster using the newest and latest techniques and tools. It's so popular that it's now available in several bookstores and public libraries in the US and UK. Available in print and digital editions.

Best Silks for nuno felting with a list of types and weights
Cottons for nuno felting
How to dye your own fabrics with RIT and DYLON powdered dyes
Non-wool fibers and nuno felting
Using a microwave
Using a portable electric sander; detailed directions
How to "water" your nuno felt
Soaps for nuno felting
Learn how to make great EDGES and ENDS
Make "ROVING YARN" to create outlines & designs
What to look for when buying custom-dyed/mixed fibers online
Best throwing technique
Using the "ALL COLD WATER" method
Fix a "mistake" with needle felting
plus many, many more!
or you can buy it from my online store at a discounted price


Monday, March 21, 2016

How Humidity & Heat affect your nuno felting processes

It's that time of year again and it's even more relevant to me since I recently MOVED (oh yes, again) to a town that has high summer temps and very low humidity about 6 months of the year.

Many of us, especially in California, live in homes and apartments that don't have central heating and air conditioning so the condition of our environments can have a critical impact on our ability to do felting and nuno felting.

A few of the problems - your fibers dry out and pull away from the fabric throughout the process OR your fibers and fabrics give off so much static electricity that you can't get anything to stay in place!

I am generally referring to temps above 80 and humidity at 40% and below.  The dry heat in the air combined with extremely low humidity means that, if you make a few adjustments to how you work, you can get around these conditions.

For those of you who have been reading the blog for a long time and have both books, you know something about my nuno felting process.  I have made HUGE CHANGES based on my environment over the past year.  I continue to make adjustments as needed but the final result is that it now takes from 30-50% more time to complete any nuno felting project because I need to add many more steps to the process.

More details are coming but these are the major changes:
1.  use 30% more soapy water to wet down my project (using the essential weed sprayer)
2.  use the Palm Washboards (round and edger) on top of my window screen covered wet project before turning it over to lay fibers on the other side
3.  do the same with the Palm Washboards on the other side (screens still on top)
4.  spend 30-40% more time on the hands-rubbing process that always ends with using the Palm Washboards (this is on top of soapy wet plastic that encases the project)
5.  remove plastic, lay out my design on the solar pool cover and roll in all directions (100 times) to "fix" the fibers even more
6.  double the time and effort on sanding.

On top of these changes, please note that my projects are soaking wet - so wet that I often blot up the excess water that oozes out during each step.

I also SAND WITHOUT ANY TOWEL underneath the project and use the sander DIRECT ON THE SUPER-SOAKED project.  (Also requires blotting up the excess water.)

While that may sound like I've lost my mind, my sander acts just the same and it is as if the excess water is not there---------if you are nervous about trying this out, just have someone with you to make sure it all goes ok.  You will get used to it.

I also increase the number of THROWS depending on how things look when I get to that stage.

There are even more tricks in the bag working in these kinds of conditions ---- because my production has increased 50% and going up more each month with increasing store orders.  Frankly, I had to adapt to my environment or give up nuno felting.


can't live without it!

Friday, March 11, 2016

PALM WASHBOARD TOOLS how to use Part 1






HeartFeltSilks, the creator and maker of these essential tools introduced several new shapes and sizes during 2015 and continue to innovate in 2016.  Please check out their webstore on Etsy to see what's new ------you can also get some great deals when you buy their sets.

While they may seem expensive when you first look through them, every single one will have you convinced that you can't felt or nuno felt without them.


To make nuno felt you need to go through several steps to get the fibers to migrate, stick, then shrink and felt so that you end up with a viable, durable felted fabric.

Most steps should be followed in a certain order but there is lots of flexibility in how you complete each step especially with the addition of "new" tools like a sander and Heartfeltsilk's invention - the Palm Washboard (and other Palm tools).

I follow a pattern of steps but vary what I do within each step based on what kind of fibers and fabrics I'm using based on years of experience.  For example, I know that using cotton, paj and habotai silk means I need to increase the amount of time and effort during the Rubbing Stage and often need to double the number of throws towards the end of the process.

Every couple of months I learn new tricks with these tools and will include lots of future posts to share those with you as they happen.

I use the PALM TOOL Regular Size and Palm Edge Tool for EVERY NUNO FELT PROJECT and simply cannot function without them.

Edge Tool

1.  Project fabric is laid on top of plastic sheet on top of bubble-side up solar pool cover.  Plastic is at least 4x wider than the project.
2.  Lay out fibers, cover with window screen, wet down with cold soapy water using a Weed Sprayer, remove screens, fold over plastic to completely cover the wet project, seal and press out all air bubbles.
3.  Spray soapy water on top of the plastic, start using my hands to rub on top of plastic for about 4-5 minutes; pull up plastic to check if the fibers are still sticking to the fabric and not the plastic.
(a) run the Edge Tool over all edges and ends 6-10 times (depends on the thickness of the fibers + fabric) in a linear fashion
b.  USE THE PALM WASHBOARD (always ROTATED in CIRCLES) from left to right along the entire project 6 - 10 times.
c.  switch to my hands and run them using a circular pattern 6-10 times along entire project

Place dry towels on top of the soapy wet plastic to dry the surface; open up the plastic, remove the project and place it on a dry towel on my worktable and begin the SANDING PROCESS.

Yes, you can use the Palm Washboard Tools on top of the Microfiber Sheets that come with these tools (instead of using them on top of plastic) but that isn't always the best solution.

Can't live without my weedsprayer!

better weed aprayer
The Weed Sprayer is all the rage in felter's studios and workshops because you can water down ANY project in seconds.  Heck, you can even add your liquid soap and it never foams up.  (TIP:  you are using cold or room temp water when you wet down your project so it's just fine under pressure.  I would not use hot water in these things.)

Most of those available in the big box hardware stores and garden centers are for home use and they range from $9.99 to over $50.

I got el-cheapo used it for 2 months and just tossed it in the garbage.  It would not seal and leaked air and needed so much manual labor that my right arm almost fell off.

The new one cost $14.95 but has a "release valve" on the side to release the air pressure after using it --- you don't want to leave it pressurized overnight or around kids and animals.

Having that extra valve means I don't have to keep unscrewing the top and losing air.

The capacity is only 1.5 gal that's why I got it---the one for $19.99 was 2 gal and you have to remember you are placing it on the floor to pump in air, then LIFTING it up to your worktable ---- don't get something that is going to wreck your knees and back. 

When you fill it up:
add your cold water first
add your Dawn or other felting soap in the amount you usually use for most of your work - don't mix it in, just leave it alone
use a paper towel & completely dry the opening, the insert rod and everything around it ---- once you add liquid soap it can stop the seal from forming because it's just too slippery.
seal it up and start spraying - you will love how fast it is.

You can also omit the soap and add your soap once you've wet down your project.  Many felters rub an olive oil soap bar over their wet fibers.  (The fibers need to be tamped down with window screen so they don't shift while soaping.)

MAKE FELTING EASIER for yourself!!!!!  Once you use it you'll never be without it.

New Color Combo Trends when looking to buy wool roving - the "blended" commercial colors

loop done with roving shown below
Woolgatherings Mix WONDERFUL!

If you buy handpainted merino or mixed wool rovings (available on Etsy) for your nuno felting projects you may have noticed that the best fiber-dyers/blenders are offering machine-carded mixes of  commercially dyed wool---a new trend that started in late 2015 and continues into 2016.

I bought my first mix like this at the Wool Festival last May; it had 10 colors including a lovely, glossy bronze bamboo.  Everything I made with it sold immediately and I was crushed to use up the last of it.....
You may be a little put-off by how it looks as a roving rope but once you use these combined colors you will fall in love with how the colors melt, combine, and glow together.  Add any solid to pump up that particular color and your options for color-effect can be multiplied by the thousands.
I am convinced this trend is perfect for nuno felting and, at the increased cost of buying them, you get the biggest bang for your buck.  (I never had any left over, I use every single strand.)

What I realized immediately is that these great mixes can be easily paired with one or up to 3 solid matching roving colors with radically different "color-effects" that got even better when I dyed my base fabrics in complementary colors (and the darker the better).

The versatility of these new mixes is a real delight - never get bored with them.

Kate Sitzman of Woolgatherings dyes the best merino and mixed fiber rovings and her new commercial roving mixes are wonderful too.  She just sent me a new batch since I already went through the vivid blues and purples that were so popular at the Bodega Bay Market that I finished 4oz in no time at all.  Had to order another one!

Here is my latest order and can't wait to get started.

Woolgathering Mix
gorgeous, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How to finish your projects - the wonderful, versatile, professional looking WRAPPED EDGE

You do have lots of options to finish the edges/edging on your nuno felted fabrics & I'll cover 2 of them  Today it's Wrapped Edges (one of my favorites) and please see the April 23 post on Sheila Smith's "trimmed fabric edges" technique.

There are several methods for finishing off your edges and one of my favorites is the Wrapped Edge Technique. It's a great way to get a "crisp" and/or straight edge and a perfect solution for fabric that frays easily like Cotton Harem Cloth (it hides them). It can also soften the edges and make a wearable more wearable.

I'm using Wrapped Edges for almost all my designs these days because it works so well for cotton fabrics which tend to fray constantly during the entire nuno felting process.

Wrapped Edges can also give you a much stronger and durable edging which makes perfect sense when you're making wearables that are frequently worn!

You can also use this technique on the ends - say,  - of a long scarf or shawl -  (see photo) even if you don't use it on the rest of the edges.

wrapped edges AND ends

It's easy to do - it just takes a little more time up front. The directions are for a one-fiber-sided design:
1. Extend the layout of your fibers at least 1" off the edges (and ends if you choose)
2. Wet down the fibers on fabric, remove all excess water
3. Fold over your plastic sheeting and encase the project, flip over, remove plastic on other side
4. Use your fingers or a 12-18" ruler to lift up the extended fibers and fold them over onto the fabric, press firmly OR
5. Use the plastic to fold over the edge all in one go
6. Make sure all your fabric edges are covered with fibers - add more if you need to, wet down, press***
7. Cover the project again with plastic, flip over to the fiber side
8. Use your hands, a Felting Stone or a Palm Edge Tool to lightly rub the edges for a minute or two to make sure the wrapped edges are firmly pressed into the underside.
9. Complete the Rubbing Stage and pay extra attention to the wrapped edges.

Your wrapped edges may or may not "show" in the final design - it all depends on the color of your fibers and base fabric. In the example shown here the wrapped edges melt into the dark silk so that it looks like a natural result of the nuno felting process.

On other designs, the wrapped edge may be more prominent but you can play that up by varying the design of the fabric layout on the underside. For example, you could create thin lines of fiber that extend into lines or swirls which will make the wrapped edge look like a deliberate design technique.

If you add fibers to the underside just remember to add time to the Rubbing Stage to make sure everything sticks on both sides before your proceed to Sanding (or using a Palm Washboard).

***Don't be afraid to trim your finished edges when you block your design prior to letting it dry. Wrapped Edges don't always turn out perfectly and may need to be "cleaned" up. I like to do all my trimming while the project is still wet - it allows me to check to make sure the final edges are sealed. If they aren't, I agitate those sections on a glass washboard or use a Palm Washboard or Edge Tool to make sure it's completely sealed. If the edges still don't look sealed, spritz with soapy water and use a sander, then rinse thoroughly and block again, hang to dry. (Easier to see if it's wet.)

It sounds like a lot of fussy extra work but if you don't seal your edges, the felt will eventually come undone.  Use your sander to do this - it's so fast and easy and eliminates all that additional physical effort.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Which Soap for Nuno Felting?

What soap to use for nuno felting is already covered in the NFT&T Tips & Tricks Book, but it's taken on a new significance for me since my hands turned to sandpaper this winter.

Part of the problem was the constant immersion in soapy water for several hours a day, but the other tolls were the cold weather and my move to a new place ------- all the packing and cleaning on top of a crazed felting schedule turned my hands into liabilities. It even became impossible to complete a fiber layout without half the fibers sticking to my hands.....

Oh, and there's that pesky problem of the older you get, the more your skin dries out...

Using all kinds of hand lotions and special balms helps but the best thing to do if you are using one kind of soap for felting is to switch to Olive Oil Soap.

Most US felters use Dawn dishwashing liquid because it has few additives and leaves little to no soap residue. It's my favorite.

Dawn produces soap bubbles so it's easy to judge if I made a mistake and added too much to my wetting-down water. If you add too much soap it inhibits the first stages of the nuno felting process because your fibers actually get too slippery to migrate through your fabric base.

Olive Oil Soap does not foam or bubble at all so it takes a bit to get used to using it once you make the switch. Most European felters swear by this soap and never use anything else.

It truly is not only kind to your hands but will restore moisture to your hands and the more you use it, the less work you have to do looking for other remedies.

1. Fill your wetting-down container with water first
2. Add your soap and swish it into the water with your hand or a spoon - if using Dawn, try not to produce soap bubbles --- it makes it harder to see what you're doing through all that mess
3. How much soap you use - both Dawn and/or Olive Oil Soap - depends on your water temp, your fibers and fabric, and what kind of water you have - hard or soft.

Adjust the amount of soap you use as needed ---- I have extremely hard water and need to use just a scant teaspoon of Dawn for 2 gallons cold water.

With Olive Oil Soap I have to add 1/2 cup to the same amount of water.

You can buy Olive Oil Soap in liquid form at 3x the price of the soap in blocks.

I use a cheese slicer to flake off the soap and dilute it in hot water in a jar with a lid, shake and use once it's completely dissolved. Just reshake every time you use it.

Smells wonderful and it is so much kinder to your hands - even if you just switch to it temporarily until you return to your favorite "other" soap.