Saturday, January 19, 2008

Felt: it's something you can spend a lot of time making, or just go to Hobby Lobby and pay a few cents

Oh, I'm just kidding. Making felt is a fun and rewarding activity. I got these instructions from a Web site, but forget where. I'm happy to credit the person if I find out who it is (or remember).

Basically, you make wool felt from wool. No doy, right? The thing about wool, and the reason you can't just throw a wool sweater in the washer, is that it's scaly and likes to mat together. Therefore, when you take wool and add friction and hot water (or either temperature extreme), it mats up and turns from fluff to a compacted felt, which you can then make into any number of cute things.

OK, you're starting with wool. I have dyed wool roving here that I have pulled apart into tiny pieces of fluff, a few inches long and about an inch wide. I then place it in one direction on a little place mat made of sticks. You can get them at Pier One. I got mine at Target. One site recommended using a large one and doing this in your bathtub or a kiddie pool. I thought I was smart by doing it on a smaller scale in my sink. This works if you don't need much, but if you're going to use a lot of felt, this would be very time-consuming.
First layer on my mat:

Next, you drizzle or sprinkle some detergent of some sort -- liquid or powder. I used Woolite. Then top with another layer of wool, facing the other direction.

You'll repeat this, with a bit of soap between each layer and turning them different directions. I have divided my wool into colors, and some pieces will be one color on one side and another on the other. You could just do one massive sheet of the same color. I happened to have multi-colored roving and thought it may make a muddy mess if I didn't divide it up.

After you've built up around 4 to 6 layers, roll up your mat and immerse it in a few inches of super hot water. Gently roll the mat back and forth for 4 minutes. Wear gloves. I used rubber dish gloves. I designated a fresh pair for this. It also helps protect the hands from the hot water. You need really hot water -- hot as you can stand. I used some hot from the tap, but I also had a kettle going. I was at the kitchen sink, so this was handy. I'd add kettle water as needed.

You then take out the roll and open it up. You carefully turn the felt 90 degrees. Roll it up again and repeat this process 5 times. You might need to add more hot water. Here is is after the first time:

After the last time, your felt should be strong. Rinse it well, but with care. Allow to dry. Here is my felt, from each side:

So then what do you do with it? Well, lots of people make cute things like felt flowers. This is what I did. I made this flower, but I'm not too excited about it and feel like it kind of looks like a kid did it. I need to come up with a different pattern, but it was my first attempt. I attached a kilt pin to the back and will use it to complement a scarf I'm knitting from that turquoise wool you see in the pictures. I think that will be very cute, and I'll post the whole thing when it's ready.


No comments: