Earlier this month I roped my friend Colette into teaching me about felting. Not only is Colette one of the easiest people in the world to get along withbut she is also an artist, a fantastic cookie baker and a stay at-home mum of two gorgeous boys. She started by teaching me how to make strips of felt from fleece. Over tea and chats this seemed methodical, relaxing and even fun.
I will concede that once I got home and I was felting on my own for hours and hours and hours I would say it got less fun.
The process is pretty straight forward and if I was to do it again I would tackle a smaller project . I’m not used to writing step by step DIY posts so bare with me and if anything isn’t clear just ask! (Then I’ll ask Colette!)
You will need:
Fleece /Felting Wool like this
Bowl of warm water and a towel
A sushi mat or a placemat in the same style
A wooden frame (I used a cheap canvas from a Pound shop and took off the canvas)
A staple gun
A glue gun
Wooden Dowel of some kind ( I used a bamboo stick from the garden)
Alrighty here we go.
First, you decide how long you want your felt strips to be based on the frame you have chosen. You gently pull the fleece to the desired length . I was giving it a good tug and it wouldn’t come apart so gentle seems to be key to getting it to separate. For all the ropes I mixed different colour fleeces. For plainer ropes I mixed the cream natural fleece with some silkier fleece for texture. I tried not to over think the colours. Once I had picked my colour palette of the fleece I just went for it.
Before you start open up the fleeces by pulling them apart and putting them together again. Then once your strands have intertwined a little you get your hands nice and soapy and you rub the fleece through your soapy wet hands. You want the strand to be quiet wet and soapy. Now you’re ready to get rollin’ rollin’ rollin’.
Put the soapy fleece on the mat and roll the mat over the fleece. The towel underneath the mat is to help draw out the moisture and helps everything from sliding all over the place. You then roll and roll like you’ve never rolled before.
When you think you’re done, you’re not! Keep going. It will dry out so you should keep wetting it and soaping it. The combination of the soap, warm water and friction is what binds it together. You can’t over do it but you can under do it. If you under do it (which I did a few times when Colette wasn’t looking) they fall apart when they dry so it’s worth giving the extra few minutes.
If there are some bits that don’t seem to be felting together just pull them apart a little and rub them between your fingers to help them knit together.
I can’t stress this enough. You roll and roll and roll….
I made 16 long ropes and 20 horizontal ropes and the end result was some blisters, wrinkly hands but 36 lovely felted ropes ready for weaving!
The next bit is super simple and it gets fun again I promise!
Once the lengths are stapled you can start weaving. This means taking the shorter ropes and weaving them over and under the lengths. You alternate how you start off each row. So if the first short rope started by going over the first length then the second short rope starts under the first lenght and so on.
This part is pretty forgiving so if you make a mistake you can just pull them out and weave it in again.
Once you have finished weaving it will look like a crazy bug…
Now it’s time for my beloved glue gun to tidy up the wiggly bits.
I decided to leave the bottom ends ragged and so I tidied the sides and stuck the top ends to the wooded dowel with the glue gun. I used clothes pegs to hold the ropes in place while the glue was drying. This was a bit of overkill because the glue dried very quickly but I wanted to be sure they stuck because I had no intention of sewing them. Luckily, the glue worked a treat.
So after wrapping the rope around the wooden dowel, tying knots at either end it was FINISHED!!!
Not only am I thrilled with the end result but I am proud to have made something that I will have forever.
A huge thank you is due to Colette for teaching me a new skill ,loading me up with tea and being a pillar of patience!