Saturday, August 9, 2008

It FELT so good

I was going to go out and work on my felt project today, but it's raining! Despite popular belief, it hardly ever rains in Oregon in the summer (unless you're in the rain forest in Olympic National Park), so I have a chance to blog about my felt project.

I've always wanted a bog cape. Ha! That was supposed to say big cape, but that's very descriptive, The kind of cape Catherine might have worn across the moors pining for Heathcliff. A renaissance type cape, maybe with a hood. Anyhow, first you need fabric. The British Isles type made me think of those intricately woven tartans, but that's beyond my felting skills, and not exactly my style anyhow, so I'm going for a less structured "plaid" design.

These photos are a combo of the two pieces I've made so far. I did it two ways, but this combination is how I plan to try the next one.

Step 1:
Gather previously dyed and carded batts.

Step 2:
Weave strips of dyed and naturally colored fleece together on top of a $8 bamboo window blind from which you have removed the hardware (it's like a giant sushi mat). It is not a good idea to do this on a windy day, but I managed.

Step 3:
When you get it all arranged, cover it with a layer of silk gauze (this gives support and strength while allowing the felt to be nice and thin), then arrange another layer of wool on top of that. I forgot to photograph that step, but I used wider diagonal stripes of only natural fleece ( I have a LOT more of that). This is called the laminated felt technique. It seems to me to be an especially good idea if you are unsure of the felting qualities of your fleeces because they were gifted to you and represent several different breeds of sheep!

Step 4:
Gently wet down the whole mess by pouring warm soapy water over your hands to disperse it gently. Before this step, look around and make sure you are outside! Don't tell the dental hygienist, but I held the camera in my teeth for this shot!

Step 5:
My teeth couldn't handle another "hands free shot" for this step. With soapy hands and adding more warm water as needed, super-gently-butterfly-pressure-only circulate your hands over the fibers so that they begin to suface felt and develop a slight skin type feel.

Step 6: Roll up the whole shebang around a length of plastic pipe and tie it tightly. Then roll it back and forth for awhile (about 25 complete rolls then check for bunching. Repeat this step until it's really felt. I alternate which end I from which begin the roll.

I was so excite when I realized I could stand up and use my feet for this--much more ergonomically forgiving.

Step 7: If your'e having trouble with the edges you might do a little more hand massaging (you can be vigorous this time) in between rolls.

Step 8:
Unlroll. Admire endlessly. Drag your husband over to show him. Drag your neighbors over. Take photos. Blog.

Step 9:
Repeat steps 1-8!

1 comment:

bigyarnmama said...

Wow- what an amazing project. i wishe we could fiber together!