needle felting

Hardy Herdwick sheep!

Felting sheep with Herdwick wool

You may have read in a previous post that I try to buy only British wool now. This is due to the high standards of animal welfare in British sheep farming and shearing. Included in a recent batch of British wools that I ordered from World of Wool, was 100g of grey Herdwick wool.

I decided to look more into the breed of  Herdwick sheep and discovered their sweet little faces, their attractive colouring and the fascinating facts behind how they live!

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Herdwick sheep are born with black wool and then as adults have a grey or brown body with white face and legs.

Herdwick facts

They are very hardy sheep that live on the fells of the Lake District, England.

The lambs learn about the area where they should be grazing from sticking close to their mothers. They have been bred for hundreds of years to be territorial,  they do not stray from their area and fences are not required. They are “heafed” to the fell.

Herdwick sheep help to maintain the beautiful rugged landscape of the Lake District by grazing in otherwise inaccessible areas.

“Herdwyck” means sheep pasture. They have been recorded as far back as the 12th century.

Beatrix Potter , the children’s author, was an expert Herdwick breeder.

Felting a Herdwick

I have made some Herdwick sheep in the past but discovered a renewed desire to felt some after a lovely weekend away in Ambleside in the Lake District. On the journey up we saw many sheep in fields and I was looking forward to seeing my first Herdys! For me it was like going on safari and being excited to see my first giraffe!

On a walk into fields in Ambleside, I saw some sheep with the characteristic grey colouring. So exciting!! (Well for me, husband didn’t seem as impressed)

 

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Actual real life Herdwick sheep!

 

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Some wool! Although tempted, I left it where it was.

Back home I got my wool out and got stuck in. I decided to make three at once so I made three heads using white Shetland batt and three bodies in grey Shetland batt. I then covered the bodies in grey Herdwick wool and the heads in white Bluefaced Leicester wool.

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The Herdwick wool has long fibres and is rough in texture and wispy so might not suit felters who like everything smooth and neat, but I love the fact that it feels and looks so natural.

I added features to the face and felted the head onto the body.

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I made four little legs, again from white Shetland batt, and again adding a layer of Bluefaced Leicester wool. This is more time consuming but the batt is so much easier to felt larger shapes with due to its fuzzy nature, it also works out a bit cheaper.

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I felted the legs on and felted on extra grey Herdwick wool to cover any white bits around the joins of the legs and heads. ( I might be better putting the Herdwick wool on last next time)

Here’s the finished result

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This one is for sale in my Etsy shop.

 

 

 

 

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Bunny blog post!

Hello! Welcome to my post about my needle felted bunnies !

Last week I was feeling a bit under the weather, you know, where you don’t feel awful but you have not a lot of energy.

Making more bowls felt out of the question as that involved standing in the kitchen for lengthy periods of time and vigourously rubbing and rolling as I wet felted.

A couple of weeks earlier, whilst sitting on a bus, I had noticed a rabbit (a pretend one) attached to a student’s rucksack and had that lightbulb moment; ping! I’ll make bag bunnies!

Here is my attempt.

 

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Bag bunny attempt

Yeah, not great. Disheartened I left bunny making for a while…until last week when I thought I’d have another go.

What helped me this time was actually looking at REAL rabbits. I have two in my garden! What a wasted opportunity if I don’t observe them! I noticed that I’d got the nose shape all wrong and his front paws were too big.

Needle felted rabbits after real rabbit observation.

Actually, the rabbit with the carrot is a slightly improved version that I did once I’d got more in the swing of it. The first version wasn’t so smiley and his back feet not as substantial. He also didn’t start off with a green scarf.

I put the white rabbit on my Etsy shop and then rediscovered some accessories from my old card making/wedding invitation days.

This inspired me to make a bunny bride!

 

Using some of these accessories, I then improved my white bunny by adding a ribbon around her neck and giving her some flowers to hold. I made her feet more substantial too and improved her nose by adding a bit of brown under the pink. I relisted her as the new improved version.

 

Then followed smaller, “younger” bunnies… A cheeky brother and sister pair…

 

And finally some babies! I had wet felted some brown Bluefaced Leicester wool a while ago (to make cloaks for little Lego figures) and thought this would make a lovely blanket for them. I blanket stitched around this and added some daisy stitches. I also wet felted a bowl shape as a bed and embroidered a couple of daisies on there too. All my bunnies, even these baby ones, have “whiskers”, made from threading invisible thread through their faces using a needle, ouch!

So, there we are. I really enjoyed my week of needle felting bunnies. It was exciting to feel myself getting better at the process as time went on. I came across the rabbit that was my very first attempt at needle felting, probably from a couple of years ago now.

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First ever go at needle felting.

I was so proud of him and I actually like the shape of him. Hmmm, might have a go at other bunnies in this pose…. I’m sure I will be returning to bunny felting again soon. Watch this space!

Most bunnies (apart from early “experiments”) available to buy at my Etsy shop.