About Felt ... Tracy Markey ... Using Local Fleece

What is felt?

Felt is a non-woven material, typically made from sheep’s wool.  However, other fibres such as camel, yak, angora, mohair, alpaca, silk etc., can also be used successfully.  

There are two methods of creating felt:

Needle felting
A dry process in which a barbed needle is used to tangle the fibres together. This method can be used to create flat or 3D, sculptural pieces and I find it more suited to making smaller items.

Wet felting
Typically using warm water, soap and agitation to tangle the fibres together.  This method can be used to create flat pieces or, when used with a resist, 3D and sculptural pieces.

As felt is a non-woven material, it doesn’t fray when cut.  

The finished piece can be embellished further using a range of different techniques from embroidery and beading to weaving and everything in between.

Why not book onto one of my feltmaking workshops to find out more?

Caring for your felt items

Spot Cleaning:
Items such as jewellery, keyrings, bagcharms and decorations where the felt has been combined with other materials can be spot cleaned carefully if necessary. Add a detergent suitable for washing wool to a basin of warm water.  Using a clean cloth, dip it into the bowl and wring it out slightly.  Gently dab the affected area until clean.  Rinse the area by dabbing with a clean cloth which has been dipped in warm water only, and wrung out.  Now leave the felt item to dry completely before using again.

Hand Washing:
Items such as scarves, bags, journal covers, cushions can be gently hand washed.  Add a detergent suitable for washing wool to a basin of warm water and add your felt piece.  Leave it to soak for around half an hour and then very gently hand wash the item.  Next, gently rinse your piece in warm water.  Do not wring out!  Wrap your felt item in a towel and gently squeeze the excess water out.  Now leave the felt item to dry completely before using again.

Larger decorative pieces such as wall hangings can be dusted with a feather duster and hung outside on a dry, sunny day for airing.

If you have any queries about caring for your felt item, please do get in touch using the ‘Contact’ page.

Lagom Felt Studio is the realisation of a long held ambition of mine.  
Since making my very first piece of felt twelve years ago, I have been hooked on all things fibre!  That passion has continued into a bit of an obsession – but who can blame me?  Every new technique I learn, leads me to more new discoveries.  My work now encompasses felting, spinning, weaving and dyeing.  The shop, studio and gallery space at Lagom Felt Studio allows me to fill my days with fibre related activity – whether that is helping a customer choose the perfect materials for their latest project, teaching a feltmaking class, or creating in my studio – each day is a blessing.

Inspiration for my work appears in so many different places but mostly, it is the landscape in which I spend a lot of my time that most inspires me.  From the dusky pinks and purples of the heather clad hills to the myriad greens of the forests, the beautiful sun-lit blues and greens of the sea to the dancing colours of the northern lights – inspiration is all around us.

My work continues to grow in exciting new directions.  Creating “Caora Creag” for an exhibition I curated at The Bield opened up the possibilities of working with local, raw fleece.  

I have become a bit of a champion for this under appreciated natural resource, so look out for my new collection which will be entirely based on highlighting the delights of Scottish fleece.

Tracy Markey
Feltmaker and Owner of Lagom Felt Studio

Why use local fleece?

Our native fleece is a vastly under-rated material, possibly due to the fact that it is not widely available in a form that most people would be familiar with or comfortable working with. 

Generally speaking, most smallholders and hobby farmers do not see a good return when selling fleece due to the size of their flock.  This leads to most of the fleeces being buried or burnt in an effort to dispose of them. 

One of the aims of Lagom Felt Studio is to connect with as many smallholders and hobby farmers as possible and offer them a fair price for their fleece.  I then process the fleece by hand so that it is suitable for a range of textile art and craft pursuits, turning a ‘waste’ item into a usable material.  It’s also about my belief in utilising the best of our local resources in a responsible manner and the opportunity to offer artists and crafters more choice in the materials they can use.

Each breed of sheep grows a fleece with different characteristics – some, like the Scottish Blackface, are great for producing hard wearing items like bags or rugs.  Others, like Shetland, make wonderfully soft lace weight yarns.  The vast range and depth of colours available means that artists and crafters can produce a variety of shades without having to resort to the dye pot.

At the heart of it all is the feeling of satisfaction in taking a pile of greasy, smelly fleece and turning it into something wonderfully soft and tactile.

What is ‘local’?

I aim to source all of the fleece used in my work from as close by as possible.  I prefer to buy from smallholders and hobby farmers within the Perthshire borders.  However, to ensure a consistently high standard of finished work, I will travel outwith Perthshire for the perfect fleece.
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