It’s that time of year again, when the long warm summer nights are fading and the nights are drawing in. I love all the seasons, but the Autumn season is one of my favourites as I love the colour pallette nature provides, with its hues of amber, yellow, orange, red, brown and every shade in between. It’s the time when the earth starts going to sleep, sound in the knowledge of new beginnings in the spring.
As our blog this time falls a few weeks before that famous holiday date at the end of October, we thought we would make something that people would have time to make before the holiday period arrives. Hense, we made a pumpkin. I apologise in advance that this blog is not unique, as others have done this before but our original plan did not seem such a good idea once the pumpkin was made. I had planned to make one that could be used as a ‘trick or treat’ container. But once it was made, I just wasn’t sure that it would be strong enough to hold up to my plan to cut a 3/4 circle for the lid and still hold its shape. The idea was to find out who would be brave enough to slide their hand inside, to find out whether they were dipping into a treat, or a trick. Although the pumpkin held its shape well, I did not feel it was quite strong enough to fulfil the purpose, so I’m afraid I chickened out because I didn’t have enough time to make a second pumpkin if it all went wrong!! But it’s still something I would like to do in the future, now that I know the strength of this 3 layer pumpkin. So next time, I’ll make it with 4 layers!
I’ve made a small pumpkin before, using the method demonstrated by an American lady, in her weekly tutorials on Living Felt. That turned out really well so I decided to use this method again, only making the pumpkin much larger. I searched my house and garden for a circular template, and found a large green planter tray that I use to catch the water underneath some of my bigger pots. It measured 38cm (15″) in diameter and was perfect for the job.
Here you can just make out the planter tray, holding my palette of wool batts and merino tops. Also, you can see my first born little pumpkin that I made last year! He had to make an appearance (can’t have them feeling left out!)
I chose a two-colour wool for the outer layer, that was a combination of a yellow and red carded together. For the inner two layers, I chose a lighter yellowy colour, so that the inside of the pumpkin would be paler than the outside. (At this point, I was still planning to make the pumpkin trick or treat pot.) The red and yellow mix for the outer layer weighed 1.3oz and the yellow wool for the pumpkin flesh weighed 2.4oz, as I would need two layers of this colour. The merino tops were for decoration and accent colours on the outside of the pumpkin. I also wanted to add in some additional bits and pieces, to add interest to the surface of the pumpkin, so I collected some silk hankies that I already had in my supplies, and also some orange neeps and curly tops (which in the end I didn’t use in the wet felting process).
I love these colours!!!!!!!!!
I then started making my resist. Making the circle was the easy part, but I then needed to make eight petal-like protrusions, to form the lobes of the pumpkin. My partner did look at me rather strangely when he saw me rummaging through the crockery looking for a suitable saucer-like object that would fit nicely for the job. I eventually found a bowl that was a good fit, and used this as a template to make the lobes around my circular resist…
As usual, Eccles had to get involved! She is not a problem, but Elliot (her brother) decided to strike while I was looking for the bowl, and pinched three of the merino wool tops off the tray. By the time I came back, I had three bird’s nests which I then had to card to get them back into some sense of order! That cat has such a passion for wool, it’s unbelievable! I don’t have a photo to show, as I forgot to take one but he really made a mess of them! He also managed to pinch the little pumpkin out of its box where I had safely (or so I thought) hidden it. I later found it under my dining room table, where he’d left it after playing with it! I must be mad to have taken in another rescue cat, but she is adorable and I couldn’t resist! Here is Penny!
I think you can safely say she’s made herself at home!!!!!
Anyway – back to pumpkins! I then began laying out the fibre. I started with the yellow wool batt, putting two layers on each side of my resist. I added soap and water and covered with a mesh before gently agitating the fibres to start them knitting together. After a little gentle agitation, I flipped the resist before folding over the edges of the wool each time ready to start the next layer.
from this…………………………………………………………………………………………………….to that…
After putting two layers of yellow fibre on each side, it was time to put the red and yellow mixed fibre….
Here you can see I have put one layer and flipped the resist ready to do the other side. You can see the edges of the reddish fibre curled around the edges of the resist.
And now, the final layer…
I love the effect of the two-tone fiber, which shows well in this photo in contrast to the yellow above….
Now for the fun part!! Time to start the embellishments. I used some of the wool top to accentuate the lines in between each lobe, and I wanted to try out some silk hankies to make some sheen on the pumpkin. Here are the different designs I made on each side. I wasn’t sure how dark to go with the wool top lines, so chose a brown for one side, and a redder colour for the other. I went with an olive green for the silk hanky.
I left ‘tails’ at the edges, so I could wrap them around the other side.
Now to start felting. Recently, I purchased a sander because I do suffer a little with my joints. I hadn’t tried using it yet, but thought I would give it a try on this project. I would say at this point, that anyone considering the use of a sander in felting, needs to do their research. I was quite scared at first, as electricity an water (as we know) don’t mix. Also, some countries don’t have the safety systems built into their domestic electricity supply, so doing your research before embarking on using an electric sander is a must. But having done my research and purchased my sander, I thought I had better try it out. I only used it at the beginning of the process, and I was careful not to take the sander up to the edges of the resist, only using it in the middle and in between each lobe. But it certainly helped considerably, and after I had finished the project, I didn’t feel my usual pain and fatigue, so that’s good!
I can’t wait to make a scarf next!!!!!
After using the sander, I hand-felted the edges of the pumpkin, to make sure it was all nicely knitting together before I started rolling it. Once I saw the felt was starting to shrink, I removed the resist from inside the pumpkin. Easier said than done!! I didn’t want a large hole left in the pumpkin, but my resist was quite thick and firm, so it took some time to remove it as I also wanted to keep the resist for future use (I know, I’m a skinflint, but I’m also ecologically conscientious).
After the rolling was finished I fulled the pumpkin by throwing it a little until I was satisfied with the shrinkage. Then it was time to rinse the soap out, give it a quick soak in vinegar water to restore the PH levels and I always like to give a final rinse in water containing a nicely scented essential oil. I love to hold my small pumpkin and smell the fibre, as it often helps my emotional wellbeing at times when I am stressed. Is that strange?! But it works for me!
After removing the excess water by wrapping it in a towel, I then stuffed it with a shredded bed sheet. Wow – I was surprised to find I could fit a whole king-sized bed sheet in that pumpkin!
and then I tied string in between each lobe, so accentuate the shape as it dried
Once it had dried, quality control arrived for his weekly Chinese Takeaway! Alex checked my work and told me that he really liked the pumpkin.
By the look on Alex’s face, I can see I’m going to have to make another one because his sister Lizzy has been patiently awaiting a pumpkin for her new home!!
Once it was fully dry, I removed the copious amounts of shredded sheet from inside. It was at this point, I had cold feet about cutting a lid in the top. Although it kept its shape well, I was not sure how cutting it open would affect the stability of the structure so I decided at this point, just to stuff it and keep it intact. I will try this idea another time though, because I would like to make a felted ‘creepy hand’ to poke out from under the lid. Seeing people’s reactions would be funny!
I decided to make the stalk out of needle-felted wool. I chose different shades of green, charcoal grey and yellow to felt together to make the stalk. I also put a pipe cleaner inside, so I could bend the stalk into the shape I wanted. I also needle felted a leafy-looking base at the bottom of the stalk, just for effect and added some bright green curly tops to look like tendrils. I did make a pumpkin leaf for it, but in the end I didn’t like it so did not use it.
I quite like the yellow accents on the stalk……..
It didn’t take Elliot long to get involved! But then again, he’s the right colour isn’t he?!!
And here’s a photo taken in natural light for colour comparison……
We hope you like the pumpkin. Happy Autumn!!
Lisa and Alex