The Road to Fluffofilia
May has been a busy month here at SJ’s Fluff ‘n’ Stuff… we have run loads of classes, met oodles of wonderful crafters and have developed a new MIY kit – the sitting cat. I tried out the sitting cat with a group of brand new felters last week, and although we only managed to get the head made during the class, they learned all the skills to finish the cat and left with a fully illustrated booklet to walk them through the process. Most importantly they all had a great time and went away just a little bit addicted….
One of the key issues that new felters have is in sourcing their raw material – there are a lot of places out there where you can buy fluff ‘n’ stuff, but not all of it is of good quality, and some of it is a little overpriced. The quality of your needles and fleece makes a huge difference to your experience as a felter, and to the finished product, but there is no need to overpay for your supplies.
In the May blog, I thought I would share with you some of the main suppliers which I use for my fluff ‘n’ stuff. This is by no means and exhaustive list of all possible suppliers, but rather is a list of the suppliers who I use most regularly and who I trust to provide good quality products.
For needles I always buy from Heidifeathers (http://www.heidifeathers.com). She has a huge selection of great quality needles. My staple purchase is of triangle profile red, green and gold needles, but if you want something a little different, try out the reverse needle. The reverse needle has barbs pointing in the opposite direction to normal, so rather than dragging fibres into your piece, it pulls them out. Once you have firmed your piece, this can either be used to provide a slightly shaggy finish and/or to bring colour from the undercoat through into the topcoat.
There are a few suppliers which I use for fleece:
Spring Grove Alpacas and Rare Breeds are great for natural colours, and can dye on request as well. They have an interesting mix of rare breed sheep – including the rarest sheep in the UK – the Boreray – plus alpaca and angora rabbits as well. They have a website at www.alpacasandrarebreeds.com, but you are better off contacting them by Facebook on www.facebook.com/alpacasandrarebreeds. If you are down Somerset way, Naomi, the shepherdess, also does some brilliant felting and spinning classes.
Gilliangladrag (www.gilliangladrag.co.uk) has a shop local to me but also has an on-line shop, so all can benefit from her fluffy wonders. She stocks the most wonderful selection of coloured merino wool (most often used as a coloured topcoat) as well as spun wool and accessories for the knitter/crocheter. I do not dare visit her shop (also known as the Fluffatorium) too often as I always emerge with more than I went in for.
For my core and for certain coloured merino tops, I use World of Wool (www.worldofwool.co.uk). I love their core wool, which is beautifully soft and great quality, and they have a great selection of merino tops. In addition, they have natural and dyed wools from a range of breeds, carded wool, other fibres and felt/pre-felt. It is an Aladdin’s cave of fluffy fun.
If you join any needle felting page on Facebook you can find all sorts of suggestions for good suppliers, but the last one I just wanted to mention was Zoe Robson at Fleece 4 ewe (www.facebook.com/Fleece-4-ewe-982266508472034). I recently bought some coloured curls from her and they were just gorgeous - lovely deep lustrous colours – I can barely bring myself to use them!
Finally, just a small plug for my kits…. You have already found my website, so you should hopefully have seen them here, or chased through to my Etsy shop. The MIY Starter kits come with everything you need as an absolute beginner to make the item described – including sponges, needles, fluff and a fully illustrated instruction booklet. The Add-on kits are for crafters who already have the sponges and needles and who just want a guided project. They contain the fluff and any accessories needed, together with the fully illustrated guide.
I hope this helps in your journey to fluffofilia. Have fun and carry on poking.