Friday, 3 April 2015

Felting a Batt of Wool Fibres in the Washing Machine to make a Bag

"You practicing The Twist, or is it ants in your pants?"
I found Elinor Gotland shimmying about, scratching at her britch end and kicking up her hooves.
"Get this fuzzy rubbish off the floor!  I'm not being funny, but I sat down on it for five minutes rest and I'm up to my armpits in hair."
When I bought that batt of rough mixed fibres, the lady on the stall said her Mum had just drum carded all her waste wool and suggested it might make some interesting felt. It has been sitting in the cupboard for nearly a year, waiting for me to muster the courage to start soaking and rolling long enough to wet felt it.
Picking it up, I still liked the colours and textures, but knew full well if I put it away again, it would just sit there for another year.  The batt must be over a centimetre thick.  Wrapping some of it loosely round a small plastic storage box, I sewed the parcel closed with a bit of wool, bunged it in a pillow case and put it through a 60 degree Centigrade machine wash on the 'intensive' programme with some deeply offensive towels my
son had unearthed from his gym bag. Good job the pillow case was firmly tied closed, at the end of the wash cycle, there were great clumps of loose hair clinging to the inside, though the bulk of my felted object had rounded and moulded into a tight pebble shape. I slit open the top, wiggled the plastic box out and left the shell on the radiator to dry.
"That hairball hasn't felted much on the inside, you know."
"It is not a hairball, it is my
prototype Painless No-Roll Mechanically Sculpted Felt Bag and the hair problem will be sorted when I've made it a lining. Nobody invited you to climb inside it Think I'll just do a little freeform needlefelt decoration with some handspun yarn."
When she had finished brushing herself down, Elinor came back to see how I was getting on.
"Not really up to BG's artistic standards, is it?"
I stood up and shook off 
the loose hairs covering the front of my jumper. Elinor just happened to be standing at my feet.  Despite the constant shedding of itchy hairs from within and without, needlefelting on scraps of silk hanky to make random roses was a most pleasant way to spend an evening - very peaceful indeed, after Elinor stopped sneezing ostentatiously and decided to listen to the radio in the kitchen.  Loose hairs were still drifting off the bag, bit of a bird's nest, even after trimming with scissors and adding a copper wire handle and a lining made from a shrunken jumper.

Having had another go with a hair free batt of wool fibres, I can confirm the idea itself is sound.  In fact, I have turned out a couple 

more bag shapes this week, for me and BG to have a Bank Holiday fiesta of needlefelting. Not a method for the energetic, wet felting purist, but spot on for Slack Alices who would rather spend Good Friday making an early start on the chocolate and petting the Easter Bunny.
I have called my prototype bag 'Rock Rose'. Hidden in the garden, it will be just the thing for an Easter Sunday Egg Hunt. 
If there is still any chocolate left by then.


  1. I definitely fall into the Slack Alice school of felting. Another great idea - thanks - and Happy Easter

  2. I definitely fall into the Slack Alice school of felting. Another great idea - thanks - and Happy Easter

  3. This is a great idea that I may just borrow! Thank you