A Quick How To – Felting with Locks

A Quick How To – Felting with Locks

I recently purchased some wonderful Gotland locks from Zara (Tuulikki Rooke) in Sweden. I know that quite a few others from the forum purchased some as well. But it seems everyone is holding back from using the locks because they are so nice. I have used locks as embellishments many times but I haven’t made a piece with mainly locks. So I thought I would show how I did it and also count this as my fourth quarter challenge piece since it is naturally monochromatic.

Gotland Locks from Sweden

Here is my pile of locks. I ended up using about half of them. The original layout size was about 15″ x 20″.

Initial Layout of Mixed 56's

I first laid out one layer of mixed 56’s. Not sure why I only did one layer as I should have just started with two.

First Row of Locks

Then I carefully separated my locks and put the cut end towards the white wool leaving the other ends loose. I gently patted the cut ends into the white wool. I also used a very small amount of white wool to cover the cut ends. This was to make sure the locks would hold. This step was totally unnecessary. I think the locks would have felted very easily without these extra wisps and it might have allowed more of the loose locks to stay loose.

Locks Half Way Laid Out

I kept adding layers of locks. I didn’t try to put strips of plastic between each row of locks. That might have helped keep the ends loose but seemed too fiddly for me.

Layout Complete

And here is the complete layout.

back side layout

I then flipped the whole thing over and added another layer of white wool on the back side going in the opposite direction.

Wetting Down

Then I covered the wool with another piece of nylon curtain and wet it down with warm, soapy water.

First Rubbing

I added a bit more soap and gently rubbed the back side. I removed the top layer of nylon curtain quickly and things were already starting to hold together.

Front of Locks after First Rubbing

I flipped the piece over after the first rubbing to see if the locks were staying loose.

Loosening Ends

I teased up the ends that were sticking down. Only a few came loose as I was doing this. Most had already felted in very well.

locks from the back after rubbing

I then flipped it back over and kept rubbing on the back with soapy hands. After it was holding together really well, I soaked it in hot water and threw it on to the white side for a bit. I also rubbed the white side together between my hands to finish fulling it.

And here is how it came out. The entire piece is on the left and a close up on the right.

This is the back side on the left and a closer view on the right. The Gotland fibers had no problem at all felting into the white wool. The piece is fairly thick even though I only did two thin layers of white wool. And it’s monochromatic so it is perfect for this quarter’s challenge. I may make it into a Kindle cover but I haven’t decided yet. Have you got some locks waiting to be felted? Why don’t you give it a try. I would love to see what you create.

46 thoughts on “A Quick How To – Felting with Locks

  1. Very clear tutorial Ruth and the finished piece would make a lovely Kindle cover – I think that it would get handled a lot – who could resist?

    I’ve used dyed locks on pods, and as you say, the ends felt in really easily. But to be on the safe side I did ‘mess’ the ends up a bit before placing them onto the merino fibres of the pod.

  2. Lovely tutorial Ruth, so far I’ve made a bag and a gilet with mine, using strips of plastic between the layers and still the locks tried felting together. I think I need to pull and separate the curls more frequently during fulling. The finished effect is still wonderful though, the locks are so soft and fluffy I just can’t help stroking them πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Teri – yes, I didn’t probably try to separate the locks as much as I should either. It is very nice and soft.

  3. Nice tutorial Ruth. I’m still waiting to use mine. I have an idea, but not able to felt just yet. I will share it when I get to do it.

  4. Ah, Ruth, a timely tutorial for those lovely locks sent by Zara. I have been gazing at my locks for weeks now. They are in a special antique basket. But I need to use them, yes! Not even washed yet. I will be sure to post a photo of my felted locks project!

  5. We’re such weirdos, hoarding locks aren’t we?! They look so gorgeous even in their zip-lock bags, though! Your piece turned out really nice, Ruth πŸ™‚ I’ll have to dive into mine this week.

  6. I am so glad to see that you have started using the locks! Well done! πŸ™‚ They do felt quickly, especially the cut ends. The tips are more worn and therefore do not felt quite so easily, but it is a bit tricky to judge when to stop felting, if you want the locks to only be well secured in the base. If more of the locks become felted in than they were meant to be, you can always find comfort in the fact that the piece will be more durable. πŸ˜‰

  7. Great work, Ruth! Have you decided what to do with it yet?

    I too have some of Zara’s locks, and know what to do with them, but I need to practice with other wool first to make sure I don’t mess up those gorgeous locks πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Leonor, I am going to make a couple of Kindle covers with the piece. The locks are actually hard to mess up πŸ™‚

    2. Kindle covers sound like a great idea!

      Hah, I’m thinking of spinning the locks in a technique called Extreme Tailspinning, so I think you can guess why I’m nervous about it πŸ˜‰

    3. I didn’t know you spun at all! Good to know I’m not the only one doing ‘abominable’ things with fibre πŸ˜‰

  8. I’ve been looking for a tutorial like this for the past 2 wks. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this technique. I just bought a Deep Palm washboard for this purpose. Now I’m ready to start my project

    1. Hi Rowan, I have a layer of plastic underneath and put a layer of plastic on top. This keeps everything in place like a sandwich when you flip it over.

  9. Hi there, I use a fork to lift up the locks that have felted into the piece. This was taught to me by an experienced felt artist. Works really well.

  10. Hi,
    Thank you so much for this, I am super excited that I found it! A question, do you do any tossing or fulling afterwards? How long did you rub it for, ( i normally put things in the dryer, but wouldn’t for this, also how much shrinkage was there on this? Thanks!!

    1. Sally, I’m glad that you are excited about trying this. I wrote this post three years ago so any details that aren’t in the written post are probably lost in my memory. As I said in the post, I threw the piece on the white side for a short time and then folded and rubbed the white side against itself to full. I would definitely not put this in the dryer. I don’t remember the shrinkage amount but I don’t think it was a lot. In regards to how long to rub, I rubbed until the piece was holding together and I do things by feel. Not by amount of time. The size of the piece is 15″ x 20″ at layout. I have no idea how many ounces. My suggestion would be to have you make a small sample first. That way you can figure out shrinkage with the wool that you will use as well as how much wool it will take and how long it will take you. That is the way to figure out all your questions and the answers will be for you personally because every situation and every felt maker differs.

  11. Thanks for this post! I loved it and reading through the comments. I laughed out loud when I saw the comment about hoarding locks…I too, am guilty. Thanks for the great, clear tutorial. I think I am brave enough now to do more than open the bag and sigh.

    1. Hi Cindy, 56 refers to the micron count. RH Lindsay sells a wool blend that has several different breeds but they are all 56 micron count. They call the blend Mixed 56’s.

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