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Making simple, saleable items from low-grade wool.

 
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I've been investigating the availability of wool that is currently being thrown out. It seems that a good quantity of usable material is disposed of, because it comes off of animals that were meant for meat. There are no commercial wool spinners that I know of, in this area. So it seems that lots of it goes to waste. This isn't top-grade Marino, but people were making things from wool, long before specialized breeds came about.

There are many crafters on this island, who make things out of wool. So I'm pretty sure we don't waste quite as much of it here, as in some areas of the country.
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It would be nice to limit the processing to trimming, wash, drip-dry and fluff. I suppose a small carding machine could be purchased if absolutely necessary.
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I'm not interested in making intricate, time-consuming articles. I'll leave that to ms Ranson. I'm interested in using it for stuffing or for felting. I want to follow the path of least resistance and most wool consumption. I've checked out expensive carding machines and other very expensive-looking contraptions. I've also checked out the process of making mattresses. Too complicated.
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Pillow stuffing seems like the thing least likely to go wrong. A woman on YouTube did it. I could purchase the sacks. It would be nice to have an inner lining, so that nothing pokes through. The internet has natural wool pillows ranging between $50 and $150.
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I was at a pet store, and saw felt balls for cats to play with. I imagine that it is a fairly simple process. Squish up the wool until it's basically a ball, and then run it through the dryer or some other contraption that causes it to felt.

Washers and dryers are often left in houses that are demolished. I imagine using older dryers that have no market value. They go to the scrap yard.
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There might be other large felt items that could be made. I'm thinking horse blankets and mats for the floor of dog houses. Those things seem like they'd be more forgiving than a wool suit.
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Do any of you have other ideas, for using wool that is barely processed, to make saleable goods?

My place near Nanaimo is perfect for this. Lots of clean water and fairly central to the Island's sheep population.

I guess the first thing I need to do is just buy a lump of clean wool , stuff some pillows, and try my luck in selling them, probably on the internet. If the world wants them, then I will pursue wool through the people who shear them. I'd rather pay them a reasonable amount to do a rough clean and bag it, than to run around to each farm myself.

Do any of you have experience with this, or producing other items from lower-grade wool?

 I have never processed any wool, of any type. If I find that the world wants to buy what's offered, I expect to train myself using this forum and YouTube.

This little carding machine is at Value Village. $129 seems like a lot of money for it. The price may come down. I asked the girl if she knew what it was, and she didn't.
Edit. ... I just checked usedvictoria.com and there is only one seller. They are looking for $5 per pound, for skirted wool. Various stories on the internet tell me about large amounts of wool being composted or burned. I will keep looking.
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I use wool to create needle felted sculptures. The "grade" of the fiber really does't affect the quality of the finished piece. Different types, textures and staple lengths provide variety in the medium. I sell my needle felted "crafts" at Street Fairs and also exhibit my "fine art" sculptures in galleries.

I have purchased wool that was processed and carded by individuals from LocalHarvest.com in various degrees of quality and been able to use it all for my artwork. I do prefer a consistent roving as its the easiest to work with.

Perhaps you could look into selling the carded wool on Etsy as an Art Supply. I have browsed and shopped for wool on the site. The seller profile on Etsy has a platform to tell you story. You could really talk up the "sustainable" "recycled" aspect of the wool you are saving from being wasted and that would encourage conscious crafters to choose your product. There are also LOTS of Needle Felters on Etsy who you could connect with as a supplier.
 
Mother Tree
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My mother used to use raw, unwashed wool in pin-cushions.  

She said it kept the pins and needles in good condition, smooth and rust-free.  
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yes, selling wool to crafters seems like something on the scale I could handle. Since I'm doing it in small batches, it would be easy enough to keep the natural colors and grades separate.
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Theo is my daughter's Pomeranian. He has a very fine undercoat. It sure feels like wool, so I decided to groom him and try something. I made this thick yarn that is maybe one eighth of an inch, when twisted. I had to exert about 50 pounds pressure, to break it.

Later, I decided to roll the remaining hair into a ball for felting. I put it in half a cup of water and boiled the ball. Then I rolled it back and forth in my hand some more until I had a pretty solid lump of felted hair, about the size of a large marble. I have lost it in my junk somewhere, in the four hours since I made it. It will be given to my friend's little cat Lloyd. He is half Theo's size, but he is fearless, and hops on for a ride anytime Theo is coming down the hallway. He is a real rodeo rider

I'll bet that dog groomers get lots of hair from Sheepdogs, Pomeranians and Poodles, that could be made into something. Probably not for everyone, but I don't need to sell to everyone. There are many Native women in the Cowichan Valley, who make traditional sweaters. I think I heard somewhere that dog hair was sometimes included. Makes sense, use what you have.
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pollinator
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meagan Jensen wrote:I use wool to create needle felted sculptures. The "grade" of the fiber really does't affect the quality of the finished piece. Different types, textures and staple lengths provide variety in the medium. I sell my needle felted "crafts" at Street Fairs and also exhibit my "fine art" sculptures in galleries.



This sounds really cool. Do you have pictures to share? I'd be interested to see some examples.
 
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i've taken "scrap wool" and spun it up and then make rugs on a peg loom. a very good use for scrapes
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Here it is. I went into the trunk of the car, looking for a tool , and there it was.

A match will be lit, to burn off the stray hairs. Then we'll see if Lloyd likes playing with it. He fell out of an upper storey window yesterday. He knocked the screen out and probably landed on some bushes. Completely unharmed. He hid until someone came home at 8 p.m., then he started meowing.
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