What is the difference between boiled wool and felt?
There are many different opinions about this, but my general answer is that boiled wool is a fabric that has been knit from wool or alpaca yarn first and then felted using hot water, soap and agitation. Felt is using the fleece itself, laying it out in layers or on a background fabric, and then applying heat, soap and agitation to the fleece to cause it to cling together to form a fabric. Both rely on the protein scales of the wool fibers to interlock which causes them to bind and shrink. In general, felt is thicker and stiffer than boiled wool – but it all depends on how much both have been shrunk. Because I am using fine yarns, the boiled wool that I make has a good drape like any fine fabric.
Can I wash boiled wool?
It depends. Boiled wool can shrink further if it is exposed to the things that cause it to felt in the first place – heat, soap and agitation. Also, in the clothes that I make, I use a lot of silk accents (seam finishes and linings) and those can’t be washed. If your item is just the wool itself (like the alpaca tucked hats), you can hand wash them. To do this, I recommend a product called Eucalan for washing woolens (you can find it in many yarn shops or online). It’s also ok to use shampoo. It’s important to use lukewarm water and to let the garment soak a bit rather than handle it too much. Squeeze excess water out gently and let it air dry.
How should I care for my garment?
Other than the alpaca hats, it is best to dry clean your item. However, this is not something that needs to be done often. Wool naturally sheds dirt and is antimicrobial. Often you just need to hang it outside on a sunny day or give it a press with a steam iron to freshen it up. It is important to clean your garments before you put them away for the summer. Moths are attracted to the dirt/scents in wool. If your wool is clean, there is less chance of attracting them.
What if an item is not in stock?
As a one-woman operation who is doing in-person shows, studio sales and a new online store, something you may want to order might not be in stock at the moment. If you get a “not in stock” message, please don’t be discouraged! I can make it for you! Send me an email, and I will let you know how long it will take for me to get it to you. Wait times will vary based on the item you would like, and the time of year. For a hat in March, it might be a week. For a coat in December, it might be four months. If you send me an email, I can let you know what else may be available or how long the wait might be.
Do you do custom orders?
Yes, I am happy to make a piece in the color and size that you would like. Hats, scarves and wraps can be made and mailed out easily. For larger pieces such as coats, jackets and vests, I prefer to have a fitting at my Portland studio. It is just too difficult to obtain a custom fit through measurements alone. The timing on custom orders varies quite a bit depending on the time of year and my waiting list. I’d be happy to discuss a special order with you any time.
Can people visit your studio?
Yes! You are most welcome to stop by. My studio is located at 54 Cove Street, in Portland, Maine. You enter through Dean’s Sweets Chocolates (YUM!) and ask for me, and I’ll come out and take you to my space. Please email before coming, just to make sure I am available, but my normal studio hours are M-F, 10 am – 6 pm. I do the dyeing and the making of the fabric at home, but all the sewing is done in the studio. The inventory I have on hand is also located there.