20 November 2010

first felting

Back in July I went to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show. I ended up buying a bag full of fibre. Unspun stuff. Do you remember? Well the plan was to have a go at felting and since Saturday started a beautiful week of warm weather I decided to finally pull it out and have a go.
Researching the how-to for wet felting while I ate lunch and indulged in a chai latte.

After watching a tutorial, I laid out my bubble wrap and got started. I laid out two layers of the grey icelandic top. It was cheapest of the stuff I bought so it seemed wise to start with. However, I didn't want to make something pointless so of course I start with something not so simple for my first time. That's me for ya. :P The basic idea was a scarf. I meant to make it thinner but I miscalculated on how much it would shrink. I made it a little longer than the table. So that provided the first awkwardness. I then used some Garments and Gadgets Rainbow fibre to do simple squares as a feature. Being a scarf I decided to put them on both sides so had to flip the unfelted fibre mat providing awkwardness number two. This created a little bodge area I'll show you later. So I finally got it all laid out.

Next I dropped on a bit of hand soap randomly and poured on a bit of warm water then rolled it up. Rolling and squishing it with my fingers rubbed the fibres together inside. Enough of this and it matts together. When it's sufficiently felted you start the fulling process.

Fulling involves chucking the felted piece on the table over and over. Nice for some aggression release. If you have pent up aggression. Not common for me. I just had fun tossing it.

Then you stretch out the piece and rub all the areas over a bumpy surface. I just used the bubble wrap as my bumpy surface. This creates further shrinkage and also allows you to shape it a bit. Depending on the direction you rub it.

Ok, what next. Um, ... might just check the tutorial again. Ok, I admit I actually did those last two steps the other way around. I rubbed and then tossed. The tutorial said to do it the way I've listed it here. :) Oh well. Next time...

I then rinsed out the soap in warm water. Since my felt had gone cold the sudden temperature change creates further shrinkage/fulling or something. Then I made my part Felting Finish and Wool Wash concoction and saturated my felt in allowing it to soak in all the mix goodness. Then I wrung it and hung it on the line to dry.

When it was dry I steam ironed it flat and then trimmed the tacky edges. They really weren't very straight at all and cutting it neatened them up beautifully. You see, when I laid out the fibres and then tried to roll it, some of it stuck out the edges. I need to make sure I leave enough bubble wrap room around the edges so all the fibre felts properly.
Wa-lah! My first finished felted piece. A bit-too-short scarf. Ha ha. That grey icelandic top is a bit rough and scratchy too. It has such long rough fibres like course hair. It was the cheaper stuff though. First tries really are more of an experiment.

I do need to practice. There certainly is technique to it. I had a number of areas that are quite see-through when you hold them up to the light. Here's my bodge job. When I flipped it before felting this part moved a bit and I didn't re-lay it. Just kinda shoved it back together. So this area is particularly bad with the see-throughness. A bit of pulling and I reckon it would quite easily separate.

So of course I had to try again with some better quality stuff. I decided this while the grey scarf was drying on the line. Pulled out the purplish fibre from Garments and Gadgets that was given to me for my birthday and tried some simple squares. After a few more felting searches online, I laid these ones with thinner whisps of fibre and did four layers being cautious of the edges. They turned out much better. The fibres are finer and softer. Think I'll make some more of these and sew them together somehow. Oh, I did these squares in the right order too...with the fulling. Don't know that it made a difference.


  1. Brilliant! I've never tried felting on purpose before. I love your scarf I think it's great. Well done!

  2. LOL. Sounds like Sinéad's done some accidental machine felting, though.

    This all looks fun. I've been neglecting spinning lately, but thinking about felting with a bit of that fibre-mountain I got from Bendi. Just need some bubble wrap...