Liz who is a cheerful retired grandmother, and self proclaimed bed and breakfast manager has been much inspired by wool. Liz recently took a class by Judy Kingsbury(through Nicolet) called Recycled Woollies in which Judy shows you how to make many wonderful items from old wool sweaters and such. She has been making many wonderful wool goodies in class and sharing what she has learned. Her passion for all things wool led to the purchase of a felting/embellishing machine! One Friday this month she spent experimenting with the different ways to dry felt using her new machine. She found it very soothing and thinks her grandchildren will really enjoy "coloring" with felt. he next Friday she made some wonderful mittens and hats also made from old wool sweaters and embellished with buttons and wool pom-poms.
The items shown here are Liz's work as modeled by our never bashful Betty. In the Spring Nicolet is offering: Mittens from Sweater, Purses from sweaters, Recycled Woolies, Stash jacket,Painting with wool, Felt making techniques, and Machine needle felting classes! To learn more check out your 2010 schedule or go to Nicolet's website here
As always you are welcome to learn many of these techniques during self-paced sewing as well, or continue your education there as did Liz.
Let me just take a moment to clarify the terms in regards to wool felting. Felt unlike fabric is generally not woven but a "mat" of fibers(often wool) which creates a soft, pliable, moldable material. Hats for instance are made from felt. Wet felting is a process by which you combine wool fibers,called roving with water, soap and agitation to create material for different projects. You can also felt a wool garment by washing it in hot water and soap in a washing machine. The washing machine provides the necessary agitation to felt the fibers together. This results in a much smaller garment, which is then cut apart and used for hats and mittens like you see pictured above. It makes great slippers by the way as well. Now dry felting is a process which requires barbed needles that you repeatedly punch through the fabric bonding the fiber on top with the material you are using as a base. You can use a hand tool for this, or a needle felting machine. My bernina has a needle felting attachment which is pretty cool. The machine works exactly the same as by hand it just speeds the process up. Below is an example of some needle felting I did on a wool skirt this past winter.
So there you have it a rough overview of why wool is so wonderful to work with. By the way you can also "felt" with silk,angora,cashmere,alpaca, etc. My thanks to Liz for sharing her projects with us in class and reintroducing a useful and fulfilling craft.