Felting with feeling

I had a happy weekend spent with my friend Thelma, who is a bona fide textile artist and teacher. I decided to take advantage of her expertise to undertake my first felting project.

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To make this little scrap of felt, we firstly gathered our supplies. I had bubble wrap to hand, and we cut up a pool noodle and a piece of netting that I was using for other purposes and we were good to go. We put a towel on the table to catch all the water and put bubble wrap on top of it.

Most of these photographs are of Thelma, while I lounged around.

Her first task was to separate out strands of wool to lay in a warp and weft pattern on the bubble wrap. She did two layers of each

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The wool is quite fine and when I did this I found it surprisingly difficult to pull off the sections until Thelma told me to use the pad of my thumb and gently tug. I was reasonably proficient at this bit by the end.

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Once we had all the layers, we laid the netting over the top and then used warm soapy water (natural soap – we used olive oil soap) and a screwed up plastic bag, and rubbed in circles, slowly with an even action, building up friction. We took turns doing this

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and then checked to make sure that we weren’t felting the wool to the netting. This circular rubbing motion had to be done 100 times, then the whole thing turned over and done another 100 times.

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it was beginning to felt nicely

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The wool then needed to be agitated by rolling it back and forth. This is where the pool noodle came in. We rolled the felting around the noodle

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and then Thelma and I rolled it back and forth 500 times. This is when you need the felting buddy.

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Look at her hands go!

We checked it and then rolled another 500 times, this time adding the towel

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We wanted a pre-felted piece, which means that it’s flexible, light and fluffy, and has a bit of give.

Once it was to Thelma’s satisfaction, we loosely sealed the felted piece in a plastic bag and gave it 30 seconds in the microwave, twice.

We then rinsed it in warm water, squeezing out water gently, and rinsed again in cold water, and then hung it out to dry, and here it is again.

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The wool used is from the Corriedale sheep. This wool ticks all the boxes for the One Year One Outfit challenge that people from around the world are participating in. The wool used came from Bilby Yarns and Perth participants had a lovely excursion to the shop where we were given a quick but comprehensive demonstration. However, there is nothing like having a dedicated teacher :).

Fadanista

17 thoughts on “Felting with feeling

  1. I never thought of buying wool just for this purpose, I’ve been combing op shops for old jumpers but sadly there is little pure wool out there in op shop land. I am inspired, I looked at buying pure wool felt for clothing and balked at the price- now I know why it is so expensive!

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    1. I’ve also trawled for wool jumpers and there are none, so this is a good way of getting felt. The wool tops are very cheap – it’s your hourly rate that makes the felting expensive!

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  2. All that work and it’s only pre-felted?! Is that the finished product or will you do more? Those first strands are lovely and fine. I’m off to lift some weights in preparation for my felting foray.

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  3. Hey Sue, we might be geographically opposed but it’s amazing how similar experiments we share almost at the same time! I’ve also felted some pieces last January, but my process was simpler. It consisted in knitting something, then rubbing it with soap and hot water and rinsing with cold water (the choc between hot and cold helps felting the wool which has to be 100% pure) up to the desire thickness. The fun part of it is that you can mold the piece (mine was just slippers) into the shape you want. Want to see a pic?

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