Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Felted Wool Rugs Created by Lanette Freitag at Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
On Saturday, Jan. 21, Lanette Freitag of Sharpsburg will demonstrate felted wool rugs from 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
Born in Ohio, Freitag fell in love with rural Kentucky during summer visits to her paternal grandparents’ farm in Estill County. After graduating from Ohio State University, Freitag became involved with technology, working for various corporations from New Jersey to Nebraska. Eventually she lived in Michigan, where she managed computer systems and programming for an equipment company. When the company offered her the opportunity to transfer to Kentucky in 1984 – she jumped at the chance. While she was working, Freitag and her family bought increasing amounts of land.
“We went from two acres in New Jersey to 26 acres in Nebraska, to a 110 acre farm in Michigan, Freitag said. “I eventually left my corporate job, and now along with my husband manage a farm operation with cattle, sheep, llamas and alpacas on 370 acres near Sharpsburg.”
Raising llamas and alpacas along with a variety of sheep including merino, Lincoln, Cotswold, and karakul, Freitag soon realized that the beauty of the wool from these animals could remain intact and visible if they were felted.
The felting process starts with washing the wool by soaking it in extremely hot water with no agitation. The water is then spun out and the wool is air dried. Because wool fibers have barbs on them, they can be made into a sturdy durable fiber by the process of felting. This process, done with a felting needle (which has tiny barbs along its length) catches, twists, and connects the barbs of the wool fibers together. By felting, Lanette can shape and create rugs, vests and wearable wool stoles, attaching the natural curly locks of her sheep’s wool as the fringe.
“I always had an interest in having a product that was sustainable from the farm – something that we could grow on the farm and sell retail . . . ,” she said. “So my husband and I invented a wool felting machine to make the fibers marketable. We can now turn wool fibers into wide lengths of felted wool which in turn can be used like fabric to create clothing.”
A selection of rugs and wearables by Lanette Freitag are regularly found at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open winter hours daily from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. with the cafe open from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Admission is free. The center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from 100 counties across the Commonwealth and a special exhibition titled “An Artful Array: Bowls by Kentucky Artisans” through Feb. 25, and a lobby exhibit, “The Making of a Master: Kentucky Folk Art Apprenticeships,” on display through Feb. 26. For more information call 859-985-5448 or visit the center’s website at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov.
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.