I know a local lady who is an expert in all things wool. Two Saturdays each month in the winter and early spring, she hosts "Fiber Arts Day" at her house. People come, bearing delicious food, to learn and create together. She owns four spinning wheels and teaches spinning as well as other wool preparation tasks-- cleaning, carding, dying etc. She teaches knitting and crochet and felting.
I have been intending to go, and every time there is something in the way. So I determined to make it there this last Saturday, and I did. It was a good "first day" because there weren't many others there, so she offered to teach us the felted purse class she had just taught the day before at a local gallery.
She has piles of beautiful wool, so she helped us choose some batting to start with, then showed us how to fold it around a "resist" (a piece of tule that is placed inside and keeps the sides of the wrapped wool from felting together, creating an opening inside). Then we laid very fine wisps of roving on the outside in criss-crossing layers in order to make a smooth, tight felt. We choose colored pieces of wool to decorate. I laid mine out in hopes of getting an abstract flower design.
We placed pieces of tule on top to help hold the design in place at the beginning of the felting process. Then we soaped up our hands, poured hot water gently over the wool, and began to gently rub. Our teacher showed us all the steps of felting, slowly increasing the intensity of the rubbing to preserve the designs and make the felt turn out right.
After lots of rubbing and working the wool with our hands, we ended up with smooth, beautiful felt. Then she showed us how to cut and opening and pull the resist out of the pocket inside. There are many ways it could be cut, usually with a flap to fold over, but I chose to cut so that it would have a handle like a tote bag.
We had to turn them inside out and felt the inside surfaces, then do the finishing rinse and stretching the bag into shape. I stretched and rolled the handle of mine so that it would be round and strong.
I was quite pleased with how it turned out!
I like that my flowers did not get lost in the rubbing.
I'm definitely hooked on felting now, and I bought a bag of wool to play with. I'll be going back for more Fiber Arts days for sure!
All this time, the kids were playing downstairs with a giant collection of legos. They built quite a world. When they wandered upstairs, we were about done. Jonah was curious about the drum carder, and so he got a lesson in carding wool
He is hooked, so when we go back next week, she will put him to work carding wool.
"Child labor is excellent for wool." she said with a wink.
And we have been reading books about birds, so today I decided to try to be a good homeschool mama and find an art project to go with it.
I stenciled bird shapes onto their papers and they collaged feathers and painted details. It was fun, if a little chaotic.