This summer I spent an evening with Happy Hands Fiber Club at the North Stonington Agricultural Fair, being part of their demonstration of working with wool.
Young shepherds were shearing just a few yards away. I was carding Drover’s spring fleece on a drum carder, producing batts of wool. Others were spinning and weaving. Both children and adults were fascinated with the process. So many have lost touch with the idea that yarn is a natural product, since synthetic yarns are so much more affordable and available.
I remember the first time I realized what yarn was really made from — how strong it is, despite the fact that it’s made up of hundreds and thousands of relatively short hairs that all stick together into a strong twisted strand.
Anyway, I came home with several batts of wool and a couple of felting project ideas.
I had some time a couple of days ago to work with the wool.
First, I felted the rest of the homemade soap we had left.
It’s all about texture!
Then I decided I wanted to make a piece of felt, so I started googling and found that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be — which is a bit scary when you realize just how easy it would be to ruin a fleece when you wash it!
I took the batts of wool and stacked them in three layers, alternating each layer 90 degrees from the previous one.
I sandwiched these between two layers of window screen to contain them.
Over this I poured scalding hot water with a bit of Dawn dish detergent, saturating the whole stack.
It’s all wet. Now it needs a bit of agitation.
I beat it and mashed it with a spatula, then rubbed it around with my hands.
Flip it over and beat it up some more…
A bit more hot water…
Smack it around a bit more, then start rolling it and unrolling it from each end, compressing it into a sheet and squeezing out the excess water and soap.
One last squeeze…
And there it is! A rough, thick and very rustic looking piece of felt! I guess I need a bit more practice, but this will serve it’s purpose. I’m hoping the kids will needle felt “Morning Star Meadows Farm” onto it with some of Boomer’s black fleece, and make a few sheep and a barn on it so we have an all-fiber sign for the farm!