Monday, December 21, 2009
What an amazing surprise to have 29" of snow this weekend! Apparently that hasn't happened in central Virginia for 4o years. It came down so fast that many people who were commuting home on Friday evening were stranded on the roads; my husband being one of them. He now has a new nickname for our minivan, "the minisled." Thankfully he was able to get it off the road safely and a friend of ours with a 4x4 braved the storm to bring him home. The local news stations put a call out for locals with 4x4's to volunteer their time to rescue all the people who were stuck. I think it's the perfect entrance into this week of Christmas. A reminder to all of us not to get too comfortable, to help someone else in need and to hunker down with family and ride out a storm.
Being stuck inside most of the weekend offered a lot of time for projects that have been piling up. Saturday my daughter and I felted wool for the first time. This is a really fun project and science experiment all rolled into one. It was a much easier process than I'd imagined. We used 100% wool-content thrift store skirts and sweaters. I really like how the skirts felted, they came out very similar to store bought felt. The sweaters are chunkier but will be nice for other projects. At 95¢ per thrifted clothing item at the local Salvation Army, it's much less expensive than felted wool at the local fabric store which sells for $6 per fat quarter.
If you decide to try felting, keep in mind that different thickness and weaves will felt differently. My advice is to felt colors separately. I felted red, green and natural together. Not a good idea. The colors didn't bleed so much as the felt fibers coming off stuck all over one another, especially the red. I also felted these in the washer though I suppose you could try it in a stainless steel pot on the stove and use a wooden spoon for agitation. I may try that another day. I do want to mention that this process got a little stinky; wet dog stinky. Felting will leave stray fibers behind in your washing machine too, but they can be easily removed by wiping out your washer with a clean rag when you've finished felting. It's also a good idea when you're switching one color felted load to another.
Felting Wool: the Doughty girls’ method
Prepare the recycled garments by cutting out seams, collars, waistbands, wristbands, lining, etc. Leaving the seams in will cause the wool to felt unevenly. *Place the wool, separated by color, into an old pillow case, securing it with a rubber band. Machine wash the wool in hot water wash, cold water rinse with a small amount of detergent. Machine dry it on high heat and steam press. You may have to felt some pieces repeatedly until you get the feel you want. And then you're done! Ready to craft, sew or whatever you plan to do with it.
I found these adorable felted wool trees on the long thread. Hop on over for the tutorial if you're interested. I'm thinking these trees would make a really cute gift for our wonderful weekend rescuer and be a fun project for us to start with. So I'm off to felted wool land...it's such a soft and fluffy place to be.
*note: Janet, who blogs at empty nest, sent in this helpful tip in her comment. I didn't notice my wool shedding much but I sure don't want to risk frying the washing machine. I've updated the instructions above to include your pillowcase hint. Thanks Janet!
I felt sweaters on a regular basis for my Etsy shop and I have a helpful hint for you and your followers. You are right to sep colors and you should also be putting the sweaters in an old pillowcase or lingerie bag..I prefer the pillowcase. Just imagine..for all the fibers you can wipe away..that much is also going out the rinse and will kill your machine motor eventually. Close up the pillowcase with a rubber band. I also keep my cashmeres sep from my wools..they are much more delicate and felt into pillowy clouds....divine!
Happy Felting (technically 'fulling' is the correct term..I've been corrected by experts ;-)