Friday, 25 September 2015

Making Pumpkins out of Felted Wool

"How's about these for 'close-bosom friends of the maturing sun'?" 
I crouched down to take beauty shots of my needle-felted pumpkins.
"Hmm, 'close-bosom' always brings to my mind ample women wearing ill-fitted bras. And the sun is way past its prime, I saw you using flash photography.  Stop titting about and let's get in before it rains."
My companion, Elinor Gotland, much prefers the flash function turned off, as the glare tends to bounce on her fleece.  That ewe is an arch fiend of the photobomb, she loves the camera, even if it doesn't always love her. 
Earlier this month, BG and I made plans to stuff the Crafts by the Sea shop with an autumnal cornucopia.  We followed these instructions for making felted balls of wool, using handfuls of stiff raw sheep fleece as the cores, swathed with some matted wool tops in orangey shades.  The process is really easy, we just knotted the clumps of wool into old tights and bunged them through the hot wash, then tumbled dry.  The wool fibres do felt into the nylon, but free up if you pull hard on each end of the leg to stretch the tights. 
Our results, while not immediately filled with ripeness, were certainly firmly felted.  Through knotting the nylons tightly, the bigger ones came out pleasingly pumpkin-shaped, though folds had dug in to the smaller balls, making them bean-shaped.   BG, with a patient look, has already needlefelted hers hours by hours. The equinox was upon us by the time I stopped sitting careless on the kitchen floor, dipping more, and still more, silk in fresh indigo vats.  Time to get a move on.

Taking a shortcut on the shaping process, I made segmented bulges on my felt balls by sewing tight loops of wool.

Just a thin layer of variegated wool, needlefelted on, to flesh out the pumpkin look.
"The solid colours of commercially dyed wool tops aren't a patch on our friend Wriggly's hand dyed fleece, are they Elinor?"
"Your needle felting is much fuzzier than BG's."
"It's tactile, Elinor, mellow and fruitful. Like a stubble-plain touched with rosy hue."
"You mean hairy."
"Velvety as my woolly britch, Beaut. You just haven't got BG's technique.  How many needles is it you've broken so far?"
"Such a wailful choir of small gnats mourning about in here. Oh, where are the songs of solace and support?"
Elinor rolled her eyes.
"You'd need to be drowsed with the fume of poppies to wear this thing as a brooch.  Oh, pass me the silk, I'll show you how we load and bless with fruit the vines that round the pergola run."

Not to be outdone, I needlefelted a plump and silky gourd myself. 
With knobs on.


  1. Great little pumpkins Fran, I like the silk hankies too.

    Susan (Pembs). Ooh, Narberth Wool Festival 10th Oct. Be lovely to see you.

    1. Thanks for letting me know about Narberth, I would have loved to have gone, but I'm away for BG's fiftieth birthday weekend. Damn.