It does not seem quite real sometimes, to see this wool with Rebekah's name on it. It has always been a dream for her, a natural progression perhaps, but still a delightful dream for someone who works in wool to be able to share favorite colors and textures on such a wide scale. If you are new to Rebekah's work, her roots are in folk art painting. She migrated to wool appliqué over the years, applying her skills in color and shape to beautiful finished pieces which she sold. When more and more people asked for patterns, she was plunged into a world of teaching and design.
I am her daughter, Kelsey, and have been helping her run this business full time for nearly four years now. It has been a family endeavor always, however, so I have been involved in one way or another with her work for as long as I can remember. Currently Rebekah is fighting cancer, and so much of the promotion and execution of this dream rests on me. I count it a privilege to do so, and am grateful for the patience and support of our wonderful customers. I tell you all this to give you some insight as to why I am the voice of this new product. I am still learning much myself alongside all of you.
Many of you have had questions about Lanacot Wool, and they are great questions. Worthy of a blog post, to help as many people as possible find the answers they are looking for about this new fabric. I will do a follow-up post about the new cottons, Rebekah's Basics, that are coming soon!
So let's take a look at the wool together!
Lanacot Wool comes in 22 beautiful colors hand-picked by Rebekah and myself. It has been fun to see which colors are the most popular so far (if you can believe it, pink is in the lead right now!). These colors were chosen to reflect Rebekah's preferred palette, but we kept them wide-ranging enough to appeal to many tastes and styles. Heavy on browns and greens, these colors are perfect for nature-inspired wool projects along with folk art motifs. This 100% wool fabric is perfect for wool appliqué, rug hooking, and more.
Preparing Your Wool
Lanacot Wools come unwashed, so you will want to wash it before using it for projects. Washing the wool felts it. This shrinks the fabric and binds the fibers together, creating a thicker fabric that frays less, which is what you are looking for in wool for appliqué.
Felting Instructions: In order to felt the wool, wash on a hot cycle, agitating for at least 20 minutes, then spin. After that, machine dry on a warm or hot setting. As soon as it is done drying, take it out of the dryer and either wrap it around cardboard or roll smaller pieces to keep them from wrinkling.
Shrinkage is always variable, based on many factors. But to give you an idea of how much this wool shrinks, I did a little test. I cut these three squares 10” by 10” initially. I then washed them per the instructions above. Sometimes different dyes have different effects, and where you cut can change what happens, but overall I would account for losing about 1" on each side if you ordered the 10" x 10" pack. You can see the difference in the photos above (unwashed then washed in each color).
I also cut 1 yard of wool and washed it, measuring before and after. One yard, including the selvage edge, measures 36" x 45" before washing. One edge I cut with a rotary cutter, and the other I tore. To tear the wool, make a little snip with sharp scissors and then just tear, and it will rip the wool along weave. The washed and dried piece measured 43" by 33". The ripped edge stayed straighter and had less fraying than the cut edge (since it rips along the weave and your cutter may be cutting over multiple threads within the weave, it make sense), so if you are doing larger pieces, I recommend tearing.
These are not scientific tests, just a little afternoon experiment for me. When you felt the wool, it may shrink at different rates. Hopefully this will help you plan, and give you a starting place. Always give yourself a little extra when you are planning projects; plan for more shrinkage than you think may actually happen.
To see the difference in thickness before and after, take a look at these photos of the cream wool before and after. The washed piece is on the left, and the unwashed piece is on the right. From above you can see that the washed piece is a little less see-through. Looking from the side, you can see the increase in thickness.
You might also notice a little bit of fray around the outside of the washed pieces. That is just from the washing process. Once you cut the wool, the edges are beautifully smooth (see photo below).
Using Lanacot Wools
We had wool appliqué in mind as we looked through samples of the weights and colors for this line of wool, though it can certainly be used for other projects. I highly recommend trying it out, even if you just order one piece. Experiment with it, play with it, and discover what you love to do with it.
Very soon we are releasing some new patterns featuring these wools. We always announce everything first in the email newsletter, which you can sign up for at the bottom of the page. I have included some sneak peeks at those 3 new projects below.
If you are a shop owner/retailer interested in carrying these wools, you can order from Marcus Fabrics directly to get these amazing fabrics. In addition, you can order Rebekah's patterns through Checker Distributors or directly from us here.
However, you can always adapt the old projects with the new colors, like Folk Hearts from Home (see below). You are creative souls--so use your imagination! We can't wait to see what you create.
Rebekah and I hope you enjoy these new wool fabrics: that they delight you, inspire you, and help make your corner of the world a little more beautiful.
~ Kelsey A. Smith
Creative Director for Rebekah L. Smith