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.

About ruthlane

When I discovered felting in 2007, I finally found the creative outlet for which I had been searching. I love that the versatility of fiber allows me to β€œplay” with a wide variety of materials including wool, silk, fabrics, yarns and threads. Creating one of a kind fiber art pieces to share with the world fulfills my creative passion.
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44 Responses to A Quick How To – Felting with Locks

  1. Lyn says:

    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. rosalindmoehi says:

    Thank you Ruth, this is very helpful and I will share this tut on facebook

  3. Teri Berry says:

    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™‚

  4. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    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.

  5. Thanks for sharing This

  6. luvswool says:

    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!

  7. zedster66 says:

    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.

  8. 1marylou says:

    I really like the look of boucle from the crimp of the lock. Interesting!

  9. Flextiles says:

    Nice tutorial, great textures – thanks for sharing!

  10. Great pieces Ruth, I love locks. Were you surprised by how much lighter they are after the felting was done?

  11. zararooke says:

    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˜‰

  12. Leonor says:

    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™‚

  13. Angela says:

    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

  14. marie says:

    Loved your instructions.

  15. Rowan says:

    I just have one question as to how you flipped it over when dry without messing it all up?

    • ruthlane says:

      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.

  16. Eline Groenheijde says:

    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.

  17. Cool – very informative. You took the scare out!!πŸ˜‚

  18. Sallyee says:

    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!!

    • ruthlane says:

      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.

    • Sallyee says:

      Thanks… will let you know how it goes. πŸ™‚

  19. Sallyee says:

    Also, how big was this piece…how many ounces do you think you used?

  20. Deb says:

    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.

  21. Dr. Polly Matzinger says:

    hi. you don’t need to go to Sweden to get Gotland locks. 100% Gotlands are now available here in the US. we have the only 100% Gotlands in the Us. check us out. amblingbrookfarm@gmail.com

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