this page showing some beautiful scarves and jackets. If
you would like a workshop for scarves, contact
Sheepskins Outback Fibers sells imported Australian
sheepskins. These are great as throw rugs and baby mats.
Do you want to know how to make felt? Here are some tips for BEGINNING FELTERS:
Watch the video--Beginner's Feltmaking Instructions in
Part 1 and Part 2.
I like to use a matchstick bamboo blind to work
on. You can get them at Home Depot or Pier One. Plastic bubble wrap or
solar pool covering also provides the gentle agitation needed to full
the felt, and is more portable than the blinds.
Electric kettles or crock-pots can provide
continuous source of hot water. Heat seems to speed up the felting
Soap gel-- You can use Dawn dishwashing liquid,
or you can grate up 1/4 of a bar of Ivory soap and pour a couple of
quarts of boiling water over it. Stir to dissolve and leave overnight
to cool. Stir to loosen the gel, then dispense it into old plastic
ketchup squeeze bottles. This makes it easy to squirt all over your
felt surface. If I'm doing a workshop with kids, I also leave some gel
in a pail so they can dip their felt balls and their hands into the
gel..... they get a kick out of the gooshey feeling !! To restore the
PH. balance on a piece of finished felt (since the soap is alkaline),
put a little vinegar in your final rinse water and let it soak a
couple of minutes. You can then rinse again if it smells too vinegary
for you. I don't worry about this step if students are just making
felt balls or little pieces of flat felt, but for garment making or
hats etc, I usually do it.
Potato masher can press water through and remove
air bubbles if water is too hot for your hands.
Scrunched up grocery bags help hands glide
smoothly over the felt during the initial stages.
"Star-burst" Tupperware lids from pitchers can provide extra
agitation when rubbing surface of felt. Felting tools can be made by
routing grooves in small wooden blocks. Ensure wood is smoothed well
to prevent snagging of fibers.
Glass washboards can be used to
"spot-shrink" stubborn areas or provide specific shrinkage
in desired areas.
Steam iron can be used to stabilize layers of
fiber and surface decoration before adding water and soap. This is
especially helpful if you get fiber laid out but will not be able to
proceed and need to put work aside until later. Iron can also be used
to "block" finished felt items while they are wet to achieve
desired shape. Vital for making hats and stretching out brims.
Felting needles can be used to attach surface
designs and pre-felts. Also used to add fiber at later stages either
for repair purpose or other. Can be used to repair thin spots in felt,
and even holes caused by moths. Can be used to create 3-D sculptures
in fiber. Other more complete info on felting needles available at
Fiber layout and felting: Grasping the end
portion of a piece of roving, with hands 6"-8" apart, gently pull
off "tufts" of fiber and lay them down parallel to one another.
Lay subsequent layers at 90-degree angle, making a criss-cross of layers
until desired thickness is reached. If using wool batts, peel apart layers
and criss-cross to desired thickness. Lay out fibers directly on the surface
of the blind, or the smooth side of the bubble wrap, then cover the layers
of fiber with a piece of nylon curtain netting fabric or window screen
fabric. This keeps the fibers from shifting. Pour or squirt water and soap
on the netting and it will penetrate into the wool without a problem. Press
down the fiber and get all the air out as you gently rub circular motions
with your hands. This is where the soap allows your hands to glide smoothly.
Add soap as needed to provide lubrication. You can also use a scrunched up
plastic grocery bag in your hand. Once fibers begin to migrate through the
netting, carefully lift it up to make sure it doesn't felt to the wool
itself. If the wool passes the "pinch test" --(pinch some fiber
between your fingers -- if it lifts away from the rest of the fiber, it is
not felted enough. It should cause the whole piece to begin to lift up.),
then remove the netting and rub some more directly on the surface of the
wool. Carefully turn the piece over and rub the other side. You may need to
wet it down some more and add more soap for this. Once both sides pass the
pinch test, the felt is ready for the second stage - the fulling or
shrinking stage that tightens up the felt. This agitation stage, provided by
rolling the felt back and forth in the blind or the bubble wrap, causes the
individual fibers to draw closer together, removing more of the air-pockets
and tightening the felt. This makes it stronger and firmer.
Tips: The blind can leave little imprints on
your felt. A good steam iron will get most of that out, but if it is
something you feel will show, then put a layer of netting between the blind
and the fiber. This means putting netting on the blind before you start
laying out, and keeping some netting between the fiber and the blind when
you are fulling. As long as you pull the netting off each time you unroll
the blind to change the direction of your felt (since it shrinks more in the
direction in which you are rolling it), then you will keep the netting from
adhering to the felt. Rotate and roll felt at least once in each direction.
Then flip it over and repeat for the other side. The length of time spent
rolling is directly proportional to the thickness of the piece of felt you
are making. You just have to learn to judge for yourself when you are happy
with the finished condition of the felt. For extra
"hardening", you can take blind outside and lay it on the ground
and "throw" the felt down on the blind. Dunk it in some hot water
and literally throw the wad of felt down hard onto the blind. This
"shocks" the fibers into tightening up a little more. Check every
two or three throws, because this will shrink it up in quite a hurry. A
dozen throws is usually plenty. For fine layout of fiber, split roving
lengthwise first. Roving can also be "thinned out" by holding one
end under the hand on a firm surface and gently drawing the other end away
until the fibers begin to slide apart, but do not separate.