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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Have you been Felted? At Hidden Valley Farm and Woolen Mill

I am very fortunate to have moved to a little town that is close by a woolen mill!   The Hidden Valley Farm and Woolen Mill is located only 15 miles away near St. Nazienz and Valders, WI.  (about 60 miles north of Milwaukee)   http://www.hiddenvalleyfarmwoolenmill.com   Carol and Paul raise hundreds of Coopworth sheep, process wool for area fiber folks, and sell lovely products in their shop and at fiber festivals and events.  Check out their website link above to see more about their place.

They have having a Holiday Open House coming up Nov. 22-24 featuring a lot of wonderful handmade items by local artists  (including some of my own knit socks and hats!)    So stop on by and get your Christmas shopping wish list filled!
Sheep Farm and Woolen Mill in Valders, Wisconsin

Here are a few shots I took around the fiber working area and the shop----

These are two large carding machines that smooth clean wool fibers into flat batts for quilts 
or made into roving for spinning into yarn

Many bags of customers' wool, some waiting to be processed, and some done and finished up and ready to ship back out again.  Oooooh all the fiber makes my fingers twitch to want to touch it and fondle it and take it home and spin it up!!!

Upstairs of the wool processing area, Carol has set up this big old barn loom.. it's sooo lovely!  I bought my Newcomb Studio loom from her to make space so she could set this one up!   Also, here are a couple Country Craftsman and saxony style spinning wheels she picked up, waiting to be restored and used and loved again.

This sweet device is a cool old paper press!  Carold showed us how it worked, and the date on the front is 1910.  It appears that one shelf had to be replaced, but it sure is an interesting piece of history to have in the studio.


Once a month I head on over there for a guild meeting (a guild is like a club of artists)  and this month we were learning about "felting" on Tuesday night.  We meet up in the work area portion of the shop, surrounded by fibers, looms, spinning wheels and other assorted treasures!

We learned how to first lay out thin pieces of wool laid like shingles in layers across either a roll-up thin matchstick blind, or a piece of bubble wrap.    After we watched the teachers, we did our own work.  The photo on the right is mine, all those layered lovely soft pieces of wool.

Once we got four alternating layers of tufts of wool laid like shingles on a roof, then we spritzed it down with bottles of warm water mixed with a dollop of Dawn dish soap.   After we had it fully moistened, now the fun part begins!  We had an assortment of fibers and yarns to choose from to put on top of our felted creations.  

 Some worked out patterns, some worked out landscapes.... 
and some did pretty colors of fibers just for the fun of it! 

We really had no idea what our finished products would look like,
but we had fun putting stuff on our white wool backgrounds.

Puffs of wool or streaks of sleek fibers (the striped one is MINE)

 When we had our stuff arranged on the way we liked, we spritzed with more water and then carefully laid a piece of nylon screen across our creations.  Now we could rub hard on top of the piece of screen material without disturbing our fiber patterns.   When we could see bubbly foamy soap come to the surface, we were able to carefully peel back the screen and see the start of our creation.  

The it was time to roll it up and start the REAL WORK to make felt! 

Some of us had the matchstick blinds to roll up our work, the rest of us had bubble wrap and a towel wrapped around it.  Now we had to evenly roll roll roll back and forth, creating friction.

Friction and heat is what will felt up wool.  That is why you DON'T put wool sweaters or socks in the dryer!  After we rolled long enough in one direction, we would unroll our creation, and re-roll it in another direction....  trying to get it evenly felted in all four directions.   We rubbed and rolled for about an hour or so.   It was amazing how much it shrinks up (about 20%) from when I started mine.  

Here is my finished piece of wool, still wet.  I know it doesn't look like much....   but I am going to fold it triple, sew side seams, make a silk lining, add a magnetic catch, a pretty button, and make a clutch purse out of it! 

Here are some of the other gals' creations... some are going to use theirs as a wall hanging, some will use as a mat on a table, and some maybe to cut up into pieces for making ornaments or coasters.   Once I had felted with a guild up in Marinette/Menominee and we made thick Tundra Mittens from our pieces with heavy blanket stitching around the edges.

And that was how we got Felted at Hidden Valley! 


  1. I like your stripes! Will make a cool clutch. You can also make a purse without seams with a resist. I have written instructions for sale if you want them.

  2. Last year was the first year that I did any felting... I can't wait to see your finished purse. So now I want to see some finished projects. I have no idea what else I can do.

  3. You did a good job of explaining and photgraphin the whole thing!


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