Thursday, October 7, 2010

Embarking on another experiment

Last month, I attended an ASG one-day mini-retreat. I taught the morning session (making a smocked pillow), then in the afternoon I was introduced to the wonders of playing with felted wool. Well, more accurately, fulled wool. I learned that "felting" really refers to using barbed needles to embed individual wool fibers in a fibrous mass, interlocking the separate fibers so they bind together like... well, like felt. However, when you take a knitted piece (like a wool sweater) and shrink it by washing in hot and cold water and agitating it, that is called "fulling". The resulting piece of fabric is thick, warm, and won't ravel when cut. We used strips of fulled wool to make wonderful fingerless gloves.

After that session, we were treated to a marvelous trunk show by Betz White, author of "Warm Fuzzies" and "Sewing Green." She regaled us with stories of her appearance on the Martha Stewart show, then showed us some really fabulous projects that used fulled wool, in combination with needle felting and other embellishment ideas.

Like this adorable little hedgehog:


I mean, really, how cute is that? I could see making these. Soooo cuddly!





Of course, I bought both her books (and she signed them!), and started thinking about all the wonderful things I could make with fulled sweaters. Only... I had never done anything like fulling before, so had to do some research first.

Wednesday is half-price clothing day at our local thrift store, so yesterday I decided to see if they had any 100% wool sweaters I could play with. Boy, did they! I did get carried away a little bit, but how can you turn down a Woolrich sweater for only $2.50?!? Actually, that one happened to be in my husband's size, so he gets to keep that one. And I found a few others that would look good on Diana, and a few for me... But still, there are at least ten sweaters for me to experiment with.

I got two zippered pillow protectors at Target, since I was warned that fulling wool will generate heaps and heaps of lint. I put one sweater in each bag and tossed them into the washing machine, along with three new tennis balls. My machine has a "speed wash" cycle, which takes about 20 minutes, and I did that twice with a hot wash and cold rinse, no spin cycle. Then I tossed both sweaters into the dryer for about 20 minutes to get them somewhat dried out.


Wow, fulling does make the sweater shrink! Here are the before and after pictures of one of the sweaters.

Before fulling
After fulling
Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with my new "fabric"!

1 comment:

  1. How fun that you got to meet Betz White! I used this online tutorial last year for Christmas gifts using the sleeves of a fulled sweater:

    http://kojodesigns.blogspot.com/2009/11/kojotutorial-super-simple-felted-wool.html

    and I tied then with a pretty ribbon instead of the pom-poms. Fast, easy and very cute!

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