Archive for September, 2009

The Yurt Hits the Big Time
September 20, 2009

Today the beginnings of the yurt were covered online at the Garden Club of Back Bay’s website! My mom’s the former president of the club and they’ve always been a big supporter of my family and our creative antics – the yurt proves to be no different.

Thanks so much, Francine!

The Mill
September 19, 2009

I’ve fully sourced 200 pounds of fleece from the Bartlett Farm in New Hampshire and we’re busy negotiating how best to maximize it’s feltability by blending it with other, finer wool too. The mill where all the cleaning and blending is going to take place is an integral piece of the whole process, it’ll all get done at the Connelly FiberDreams Processing Mill in Temple, NH.

The mill is above and is fully functional though not quite finished aesthetically. This is where Jennifer will clean, card and blend the wool.

That’s Jennifer! She has been critical in helping us troubleshoot multiple issues in this process that we had never ever thought of.

More machinery — through this process I hope I learn how all this works, however, for right now all I know is that the wool comes out clean, in batts and will be blended to perfection!

Above are some of Jennifer’s flock of babydolls — the sheep breed has the cutest smile and they’re so curious!

Inspiration Yurts
September 18, 2009

Since I can’t start working on the yurt until the wool gets cleaned, blended, and put into batts I’ve been looking at lots of photos and talking to everyone about the project. The following are two that show yurts in different locations that I thought were pretty inspirational.

This is a yurt in its traditional location, Mongolia, in the desert. It looks like this one has a cover over its felt layer, which is probably smart to keep it clean and cover possible air drafts from the overlapping pieces of felt. I’ve talked to many people about potentially coating the yurt I’m making in everything from polyester resin to electro-luminescent wire to paintings so this gives me some ideas to mull over too.

The above image would be my dream on a beach with no humidity, where it gets cool at night and a felt yurt wouldn’t be too hot! In talking to someone new about the project today she sent me the link to information on her family’s yurts, that they live in on their property in the Hamptons in the summer — check it out on Apartment Therapy. More to come!

Crochet by Hand
September 12, 2009

With the cord done and the system of crocheting determined I got to work. I went out on the deck and just wrangled that cord — again, be thankful that went undocumented, it was a battle. I learned that I’m going to need to start lifting weights to be able to crochet this whole thing!

Above is the finished product — it may not look like much but it proved the concept and told me how much wool I’ll need. I’ll share the math on this project soon but suffice it to say that now I know how many square feet I can make out of five pounds of fleece, a key ratio to know as I move forward.

If that’s not the face of a happy felter — I don’t know what is! For scale, I like to think I’m not huge, so this is about 2.5 feet wide, 1.5 feet tall and 9 inches thick. Now I know I can make the cord about 1/3 smaller in order to get the yurt to the thickness I want it to be meaning I can get about four square feet out of five pounds of fleece.

Hooks of Choice
September 12, 2009

When it comes to crochet hooks, size matters. In starting this project I thought to myself, I’m going to need a really big crochet hook. I went to Home Depot and bought their biggest wooden dowel, a rasp and a sander sponge.

Above is a picture of the dowel, the resulting hook, a hook I had previously thought was pretty big and the green hook that I carry with me just in case I have time to get a little crochet in on the subway. When we finished the cord I realized if I was going to crochet with a hook it would have to be made from a tree trunk! After some experimentation I found that using my hands was better since crocheting that dense, huge cord it more like wrestling.

Above is a close up of the hook I whittled in July. It can only crochet about a 3/4 inch piece of rope. I went back to Home Depot, the employees there think I’m a little weird, and bought a bunch of hiking rope to experiment with. As my first foray into single item oversized crochet I was really excited to find that it works!

Above is the result of those efforts — as my mom pointed out it looks like a hiking rope wreath. If anyone knows an adventurous sports fan who wants a recyclable, reusable, non-plant based wreath for Christmas just let me know, I’ve got a gift for them!

Cording Time
September 12, 2009

As I’ve been in New York thinking about how this project would work I’d come up with many theories on the cording aspect of it — none of which I knew would work. Everyone I spoke with agreed the cord process would be the hardest to decide upon. I did learn, the messy way, that I was unable to felt cord of any scale in my apartment but I did make a three foot long model, only partially destroying my bathroom in the process. In New Hampshire I have much more room and just about every tool or material I might need for felting.

There it is. Above is 40 feet of cording made of five pounds of wool, pre-felting. I laid it out on the tarp inside and then dragged it out through the side door — things I didn’t take into account included, the wind, the grade of the lawn, the width of the door — I’m learning!


Isn’t it beautiful? I laid out the fibers crossing each other for maximum felting and, in what might be considered cheating, I laid a cotton rope in the middle of the fleece when I was halfway through so that even if it didn’t felt consistently it would have the rope in the midst of it to hold onto – a great idea from the mill owner!


And so we felted, Courtney and I, with the old pool cover cut up into strips of industrial bubble wrap. I bought gloves that had grit in their coating to hold the plastic better, rigged the outdoor shower to pump hotwater to us (only mild injuries were recieved by my mom when a huge hornets nest was discovered in the shower) and we just went for it. We laid it out on the deck to dry, it didn’t, it started to smell so we made the gametime decision to stick it in the washing machine. We threaded the cord into 16 pairs of nylons, which we cut the feet off of and set the machine to “normal soil.” When we took it out, it was perfect.

September 12, 2009

Before I started felting I wanted to commune with the sheep, meet the wonderful shepherdess and mill owner I’d heard so much about, and talk sheep at the wool design studio nearby.


Is this not the happiest sheep you’ve ever seen? This little guy lives at the mill where the wool I’m getting will be cleaned, carded and turn into wonderful, easy to use batts! These sheep I couldn’t hang out with one-on-one so I promptly went to the petting zoo down the road.

Big Sheep

At the petting zoo the sheep are smarter than the visitors — they give you a feed bag when you get there and guess what, the sheep know what’s in the bag when you walk in the pen. For someone who loves sheep of all varieties I was alarmed and embarassed to be running away from some seriously large sheep. Luckily it happened so fast it didn’t get caught on camera.

Tongue Sheep

Yeah, the sheep’s sticking it’s tongue out at me — it got the feed, end of story. The history of domestic sheep is a good one — they were one of the earliest animals in history to be domesticated — they show up in artwork dating back 6000 years. Most people believe they come from the Mouflon, which now only exist on Sardinia, Corsica and Southern Iran. Currently there are over 200 breeds of sheep and even more hybrids — all that fleece has different qualities including feltability and weight — the two most important ones for the yurt.

Wool Arrives
September 11, 2009

After a layover in New York so I could see what I was working with the wool made it back to New Hampshire! It’s five pounds of wool, half merino and half merino blend, which I ordered from Harrisville Designs to build the prototype for the yurt.

Upon opening the box the wool began to expand out of it’s batts – quickly!

The next task is pulling it all apart into little strips and pieces to lay across each other to felt.


Look how much one batt grows — all ten only took a few days!

Wait for it…wait for it…
September 11, 2009

The prototype build was a success. I’ve uploaded the photos. I’m setting up the project fundraising site.  It’s all coming. Very soon. Wait for it…