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Monday, April 25, 2011

Felting Fun

Yesterday I decided I needed to give myself a bit of a break and just "play". It was a holiday after all. I had been planning for sometime to try to felt a 3-d project and picked a vest as that seemed doable. About 3 years ago we had a yearling that got sick and then just never got her health back to snuff; a failure to thrive. We ended up having to put her down; a sad decision, but the right one. Sometime before we did the deed I had sheared her. As she had been sick and I did not want her to get cold, I did not shear her in February with the rest of the gang but waited until later that spring when she had begun to shed it. By that time is was well matted and I was able to cut it off her in one piece, almost like a pelt. I held onto this partially felted piece as it was lovely with lots of luster and softness, and I had memories of her.  My aspirations were to actually do something with this fiber.

Well yesterday I actually had the energy to act on what had been fermenting in the back of my brain all that time. I had been thinking about using Mandi's fleece to incorporate it into a felted vest. I consulted my felting books and came up with a plan to do the seams in one piece rather than do a flat piece and sew it together later. I had some very fine, soft Shetland wool, fawn color, from a ram we had (he had also since died, really, most of our sheep are healthy!). To save time I ran some of it through my picker and a bit through the carder. I had also died some of it a orange red. To add a bit of contrast I carded up a bit of very dark brown fleece as well. So in total I had 3 oz of fawn from the picker, 3 oz of fawn in carded batts, 1 oz of fawn overdyed red/orange, .3 oz black and 10 oz of Mandi's partially felted fleece.

Red and fawn fiber laid out, the carded batt not yet added.
I laid out a sheet of plastic on my fiber room floor then a big old white sheet. I drew out a rectangle measuring 3 ft by 6 ft to allow for shrinkage. I put down layers of the fiber starting with the red, then fawn, then some tufts of black, then cut up the Mandi fleece in chunks and laid it out as evenly as I could.

Close up of all the layers ready to be felted together.

Working on the side seams
I put some screening over it and wet it down with soapy water. Then I put on some rockin music and danced around on it for awhile, leaving the sides dry and undisturbed. I rolled it around my big PVC pipe and rocked it back and forth on the countertop. When it was holding together enough I unrolled it and "glued" together the seams. I used some sheeting between the layers and feathered the sides together. Then wrapped it more around the tube for more rolling.

When it was held together fairly well, but still quite large, I unrolled it and cut the front opening, neck and arm openings. At that point I moved upstairs to the bathtub. I used some bubble wrap and my hands, more hot water and soap and rubbed it all over to firm it up. At that point I began to realize it was very close in time to our proposed dinner date with our neighbors! Not wanting to leave it unfinished, I bit my lip and threw it in our front loading washing machine.

As we were getting ready to go out the door the wash was finished and I pulled it out. It looked a bit like a child's size but I pinned down hubby and made him put it on so we could stretch the begeezes out of it. And it worked! Now I have my new vest I'll name "Wild Thing". My sheep won't recognize me!

New felted vest, just needs some sort of button closure.