Friday, 7 June 2013

Making a Needlefelt Decorated Felted Clutch

I was on annual leave last week and volunteered to test a mystery crochet and needlefelt pattern written by Briana Olsen, a designer on the Ravelry website. She has made it available for free, here is the link

She said it was going to be small and simple and it is.  Just as well for me, as anything more advanced than double crochet stitch has to be looked up in the book.  What with this project and doing the Macrame style owls, I have got quite hooked on crochet - oooo, why did I not resist that pun? 

The clutch comes in two sizes.  I made the larger one with the skein of wool I dyed with lichen.  If you read my post The Trouble with Lichen, you'll understand why I chose this bit of wool for a project involving a hot wash.  The smaller one was crocheted from the remainder of my ball of handspun Gotland.

After a machine wash at 95 degrees centigrade with some towels, both the clutches felted well.
The Pure New Wool from Texere shrank about 20%. The stitch pattern is still visible, but the wool is properly matted. The Gotland, which is known for its willingness to felt, had shrunk by 40%, becoming really thick.  If you are choosing a remainder from your stash to make this, the larger clutch took just over 30g, which was about 61 metres or 66 yards. Pick 100% wool and do not use one that has had the Superwash treatment.  If you buy wool specially and it says on the ball band what kind of sheep it came from, I know Zwartbles and Gotland felt brilliantly, Jacob felts ok, angora is hell and I have been told Merino and Suffolk don't felt well either. Blacker Yarns sell wool spun from specific sheep breeds.

Decorating the clutch is great fun, up to you to choose how.  I thought the larger, lichen dyed clutch looked a bit like a hay bale and decided to put a mouse on it.  Just cut a slit and sew on a button, to get your bearings.  If you want to needle felt, here is how I did it.

You will need a barbed felting needle and a dense sponge pad.  The supermarkets have those foam tennis balls for little kids, a pack of three only costs 75p at the moment (centre top).  Cut one in half to make a small pad that will fit inside the clutch.  I think most wool types and embroidery silks can be needle felted on if you keep poking the needle through them long enough.  I have been spinning a Jacob fleece (unwashed locks centre bottom, skeins on left), so I just unravelled a bit of wool and combed it out to recreate 'roving'. Roving can be bought in all sorts of outlets.  Hilltop Cloud sells the most gorgeously desirable hand dyed roving.  If you wanted to make animal pictures like the mouse, the natural sheep colours are ideal.  There is a pack of small quantities of nine different fleeces for only £8.

Now have a look at a book or online images for a picture to copy.  Get a small tuft of roving and curl it into the shape you need for the main body.  Poke the needle through it, into the sponge pad behind, until it is firmly fixed. Once you have the basic shape, add on wisps of coloured roving to copy the picture.  Stab the needle through as often as it takes to fix each layer.
It is even easier to make the flowers.  I had some leftover Jacob handspun dyed yellow with daffodils and green with daffodils plus copper afterbath (right of upper picture).  I unravelled the two ply back into singles, laid it on and needle felted.  The flowers are just little circles of the yellow wool.
My friend BG decorated the smaller clutch with some roving left over from another of her projects, using the same technique.  She just made up the pattern as she went along and as ever, it has turned out balanced, harmonious and classy.
I shall call this clutch The Rat Bag.  It is now customised with a felted double crochet cord handle.  My littlest niece will be three years old next week.  This will make a change from the usual birthday cardigan.  

If I were three years old, what would I like to find inside?  Sweets, I expect. No change there, then.


  1. Love the mouse x You did a great job of it x

    1. Thanks, Tammy. Any chance you might design another hanging like the owl?

  2. This is beautiful; the mouse is utterly charming and you are so creative and clever! How DO you make the time to achieve so much?! I found your blog by following a link to the felted singles slippers recipe, mosied around a bit, and decided to read it all from the beginning. Thanks for sharing your experiments and expertise, Fran, I'm hooked. And spinning for the slippers. Marvelous!

    1. Hi Katilinum, Thank you for your various comments and compliments, it was a real lift to find someone on my wavelength who enjoys these blogs. All the best with your projects.