Valais Blacknose sheep

When I received the materials list for the workshop with Violette Amendola, it included “200g of Walliser Schwarznasenschaf”. So first I had to translate it – and Google came up with “Valais Blacknose sheep”.

Image: Noblesse Stud
Image: Noblesse Stud

Well, this has to be a strong contender for cutest sheep on the planet! 🙂 I’d never heard of the breed and my usual wool suppliers didn’t stock any.

Vrou Wolle said that they we could buy the wool at the workshop, but I decided to see if it was available in the UK. The Valais Blacknose Sheep Society UK had links to breeders in the UK, few of which seemed to have websites or fleece (as opposed to sheep) for sale.

Whitehall Valais did have an online shop that included fleece but said it had sold out. So I messaged them and and Valais Blacknose Sheep Oxfordshire via Facebook to ask if they had any available.

Whitehall then put some up on their website so I was able to buy some. Renee in Oxfordshire very kindly sent me a sample with a request that I send her a photo of what I made. She makes beautiful rugs with the fleece – you can see some photos on her Facebook page – but had not felted with it otherwise.

Both sets of fleece arrived in the raw state, unwashed, but surprisingly clean compared with other raw fleece I’ve worked with. It had a lovely long crimp.

valais fleece

So I scoured it and carded it with my dog brushes and used it to make the husks in Violette’s class.

valais sample1

It’s fantastic for the type of structural felting I enjoy – it felts quickly and requires only a couple of layers to create a firm yet airy felt, perfect for these seed husks.

Since coming home I’ve experimented a bit more with making small vessels, in this case combined with merino.

blacknose and merino

With the weather warming up, I’ve also revitalised the indigo vat and done some ombre dyeing on these pieces.

valais indigo 1 valais indigo 2

Talking of ombre dyeing, I’m really excited that some of my work is to appear in a new book coming out next month.

worldwide colours of felt cover

It’s called Worldwide Colours of Felt and is published by Textile-link, a German publisher that has published several beautiful and inspiring books on felt.

It probably comes as little surprise that my work appears in the blue section! It’s the set of felt vessels dyed with indigo that I made several years ago. Here’s a sneak preview of my entry.

worldwide colours of felt

There are some world class felters included in this publication, so I’m very proud to have my work featured among them!