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These directions are for the very lightweight felt that can be made when more drape is desired for items such as scarves or shawls. The finer the fiber, the better the results, so use 18.5-micron superfine merino roving.
In addition to your fibers, you will need the following:
Start by laying down your length of rubbery shelf liner/rug underlay on the table. Place your poly/nylon fabric on top, with the scarf pattern drawn on it if you want to ensure straight sides. Having the fabric on both sides of the fiber makes turning your piece easier . Since it is vital to have mastered the art of pulling off fine wispy tufts of fiber, it helps to split the roving lengthwise. Pull off a couple of yards from your bundle of roving, and you will usually find it will divide lengthwise easily into two or three thinner strips.
Lay out three VERY fine layers of fiber -- 2 lengthwise and one crosswise between the two. If you can still see your netting fabric at this point, then add another fine layer, or fill in any areas that look sheer or thin. If you can no longer see your netting fabric after two layers, you are pulling off your tufts too thickly. More your fingers closer to the tips of the roving to ensure the tufts come off in very fine wisps. Several fine layers make a better felt than just a couple of thicker layers.
If you are aiming for straight sides down the length of the scarf, make sure the tufts of the middle layer do not extend very far outside your lines.
Finally add any design to the surface. Tussah or Bombyx silk will provide sheen and texture. Take the silk roving and split it as you did the wool roving. This enables you to gently draft the silk by pulling it carefully until the fibers begin to slide apart, but do not completely separate. this will give you a "ribbon" of silk that can be swirled around on the surface of the wool. Alternatively, you can just pull off tufts of silk which will give you more "squiggly" effects when the wool shrinks beneath the silk.
Silk hankies, pieces of sheer silk fabric, wool or mohair yarns can also be used to create interest and texture to the surface.
Place the second piece of netting over the scarf to protect the fiber layout, then wet it down with cool, soapy water. Rub gently in small circles using a scrunched-up plastic grocery bag to ensure the water penetrates all layers.
Once the fibers are fully saturated, carefully lift the netting and gently sweep the sides into alignment if there are wisps sticking out. It is best to use a gentle, sweeping motion (rather than pushing inwards) to direct the wisps along the side of the scarf. Extra water facilitates this stage if the fibers stick to your fingers or do not sweep easily. Sweep the edges sufficiently that you have no thin patches at the edge as this leads to some lack of integrity in the finished piece. Go around the short sides also if you have not added some kind of fringe element. Replace the netting and rub again, this time for about 8-10 minutes, giving a little extra attention to the sides.
Carefully turn the whole thing over and rub the back side for another 8-10 minutes.
Lift off the fabric covering, and rub directly on the surface of the scarf using added soap to allow the grocery bag to glide smoothly. Return you piece of netting and flip over again to put the decorative side up. Lift the netting to make sure it is not sticking to the fiber. Check the see if the decorative fibers are attached to the wool base. Do this by gently pushing at the silk. It should not slide on the surface if it has connected to the wool. If there is still movement, return your netting and rub another 8-10 minutes
A "pinch test" can be done at this time to see if the piece is ready for the "fulling" stage. Lift the netting and carefully pinch up the surface of the scarf. It should begin to lift up as an entire piece if it is ready. If surface fibers pull up from the base, return the netting, and rub longer, adding more soap and water if necessary. Water keeps the scales on the wool open, but you don't want it so wet that the fibers begin to float apart from one another.
Fulling is the shrinking and firming up of the felt. Keeping your netting on both sides, roll up the scarf inside the shelf liner, using a length of foam pool noodle or pvc pipe as a "roller bar". If you wish, you can tie the roll with a couple of pieces of stretchy fabric or two rubber bands. With your roll on the towel to keep it from sliding, roll firmly back and forth under both hands for 300 rolls. Continue to squirt additional water over the roll so that you hear a “squishing” sound as you roll back and forth.
Unroll and re-roll the piece from the opposite end. Roll again another 300 rolls.
Unroll and remove the netting from both sides of the scarf. Gently stretch the scarf in both directions and then return to the piece of shelf-liner. Repeat the rolling and stretching process several times from each end, checking often to make sure it doesn't get creases it in during the rolling. Pay special attention to the sides when stretching to ensure the edges are not rolling in and sticking to themselves.
Once the piece feels stable and reasonably tight, run some hot water into a basin. Dunk the scarf in the hot water and gently drop it down into a sink 8-10 times. Squeeze out some of the water and gently stretch the entire scarf in both directions. Repeat this process, tossing with increased pressure until the scarf feels and looks tight and uniform in thickness.
When fully felted, the wool will return to its naturally crimpy texture, and the scarf will have a slightly pebbled look on the surface. Squeeze out excess water and allow to dry.
If you want a smooth finish to the surface, and you want the sides to be nice and straight, iron the scarf while it is damp, gently stretching and blocking it to the desired shape. If you have used synthetic thread or yarns, iron on the back side only to avoid melting. Ironing will bring out the sheen in the silk, but will also smooth out the pebbled texture, so choose the finish you prefer.
The result...a wonderfully soft, but warm and elegant scarf.
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