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Author: welshfelters

Hello, my name is Lisa, and this is my son Alex, who has Down's Syndrome. We live in Swansea, South Wales in the UK. We started learning to Wet Felt when Alex moved back home during the Covid 19 pandemic. Alex has lots of health issues, and everyone thought he would be safer back home with me. So, we have been self isolating at home since March 2020! As we can't go out and about, or enjoy our usual activities, we looked for new hobbies to give us a new interest and pass the time. It all started when we got two new kittens to join our adult Maine Coon Cross Ember. We thought they would like a cat cave. But we decided to see whether we could make one and that was how we discovered felting! We have to say, felting has become our passion. It is something that Alex can do on an equal footing to everyone else, and he absolutely loves it! His first make was a large pencil case for his numerous collections of art pens. We've also made a scarf and lots of felted soaps. We've even tried our hand at needle felting gnomes. We've discovered it's a fun activity that we can do together. Real mum and son time!
Rainbow Baby Mobile

Rainbow Baby Mobile

We have a new grand baby in the family, so we thought it would be nice to make a gift for her.  So Alex and I had a think, and came up with the plan to make a baby’s mobile.  Now we don’t know about you, but we absolutely love rainbows.  Their colourful display are enough to brighten anyone’s day.  As the baby’s Dad is from Wales but they live in Yorkshire, we also thought it might be nice to also incorporate some Welsh driftwood into the project to represent the baby’s Welsh roots.

When thinking of the design, we also thought we would add some clouds, to give context to our rainbow, but being quite novice felters, we opted to do needle felted clouds, so they would appear light and fluffy.  We started by making a template to represent the base of the clouds, as when we look up into the sky, clouds often appear to have a flat base, with plumes of fluffy clouds above.

 

 

We wanted a rough design to follow, so that we ended up with a cloud the size we wanted.  We needle felted some cloud shapes out of an off-white wool.  Unfortunately, it didn’t have a label for us to identify the type of wool!!  Once we had a layer of cloud, we could then start to build upwards…

Cloud base

We continued to make small clouds, which we then added to our base…

Building up the cloud

Alex had a go at needle felting once it was assembled.  There was less risk of him stabbing his fingers by this stage!!

Alex having a go

We decided that it would be lovely to have some lights inside our cloud.  We bought some battery operated LED lights, which were small enough to fit inside.  We bought off white, warm white and multicoloured, but in the end decided on the multicoloured lights to reflect the rainbow colour scheme!

Battery operated LED string lights

We pushed some of the lights down into the base layer of cloud, and hid the rest in amongst the top layers of cloud.

We have lights!!!

But we needed to have access to them in order to operate the light switch and be able to change the batteries.  So we left an access hole in the top of the clouds…

Access point

The next step was to make the felted balls.  We used 3 grammes of wool per ball and tried a few different methods.  Firstly Alex had a go at hand felting them, but as he doesn’t know his own strength, it was difficult to keep them circular!

Hand felting the rainbow balls

So we then tried using a salad spinner to gently tumble them…

Alex enjoyed this bit!!!

But although this worked quite well, they still looked like they needed some more felting so we tried bubble wrap to cushion the pressure of hand felting…

This worked well!

Success!! We ended up with some really well felted balls that were fairly round and even…

Raindrops!!

Having finished both the clouds and the rainbow, it was time to start assembling our mobile…BUT….disaster struck!!!  When we went to pick up our rainbow of balls, we were missing a green one.  Now where could it have gone to?? Two minutes before, it was right beside us and now it had vanished.  We started to look everywhere and after about 20 minutes of moving furniture and searching three rooms, we found it…..

Our beautiful little green ball was now a jumbled mass of scarecrow-looking mess!!!

How could one little ball end up so big and fluffy?  I even weighed it to check it was the same ball but yes, it weighed 3 grammes, the same weight as the original.  There was only one explanation…..

Here is the culprit!!!!!  Elliot!!!

Not content with the numerous homemade felted mice he has been given, Elliot was determined to get his claws into the rainbow.  We should have known, as he spotted them in the making!!!  So – we then had to make another one to replace it, which set us back a few hours while we waited for it to dry!  But in the end, we were able to assemble our felted rainbow mobile and Alex is very happy!!!

The finished mobile

And the lights look amazing!!!

Our rainbow cloud

We would like to try this project again, but using wet felting for the cloud.  It will be good to compare the two.  It was a fiddly project to make, including trying to balance everything to ensure that it hung straight!! But all in all, we are very pleased with how it finally turned out.  But I think next time, we will be hiding the raindrops from Elliot!!!

 

Children’s Felted Soap

Children’s Felted Soap

Don’t we all wish we could be children sometimes? The freedom to be creative, taking inspiration from anything we see. Maybe that’s what is so appealing with an art such as wet felting. It gives us all the opportunity to create!

Alex and I were talking about nature, and reflecting on a project we did in the summer when we turned golf balls into ladybirds (or ladybugs as you may call them). It was then that I got thinking about how many children love ladybirds! We had been thinking about our next felting project and we thought it would be fun to incorporate ladybirds into the mix! Felted soaps are really easy for children to make, there are so many different ways you can be creative. So – we thought about combining felted soaps with our favourite little creatures….ladybirds!

 

Red and Black Wool Batt and Soap

In order to prepare the soap, I trimmed the hard edges using a potato peeler. I find these really good for this job, as you can cut a thin slither of soap without digging into it too much. We like to collect the soap chippings, which we then add to our bowl of hot water. We use this for the felting, and the scented water adds to the scent of the felted soap.

We chose to use wool batt to make our felted ladybirds as we already had this at home. I would also like to try making them with Merino wool, to see if they come out softer. We used 3oz of red wool first, which we wrapped around the soap to make the ladybird’s body. The black wool was put aside for later, when we came to needle felt the spots!

The soap is all nicely wrapped in it’s warm woolen jacket!

Once we had wrapped the soap in the red wool, we put it inside a cut off pair of tights to keep the wool in place when we started to felt it. You might notice our two soaps are different sizes. That’s because one contains a baby soap, which although it was the same make as the larger soap, it was slightly smaller.

And then the fun starts! We begin wet felting our soaps.

I like this part Mum!

You can see by Alex’s face, he really enjoys this activity! The only thing I had to watch is that he got a little overzealous and I had to watch we didn’t end up with a squished ladybird!!

Felting the soap

We felted away for about 10 or 15 minutes. After a while, we removed the tights and felted direct with our hands. We also tried using some mesh and also some bubble wrap to help things along.

And then there were four!

After the soaps had dried, we needed to add the spots and faces. We used the black wool batt for this. We think they came out pretty well!

Alex is very pleased with his ladybirds!
Two little ladybirds

For time constraints, we only managed to decorate two ladybirds in time for the blog. But we are looking forward to making some more. We also plan to make lots of other soaps, both for adults and children. They make lovely gifts for friends and family!!

 

Alex’s Christmas Stocking

Alex’s Christmas Stocking

About welshfelters

Hello, my name is Lisa, and this is my son Alex, who has Down’s Syndrome. We live in Swansea, South Wales in the UK. We started learning to Wet Felt when Alex moved back home during the Covid 19 pandemic.

We were thinking about what to make for our first post, and decided (as it’s Christmas) we would have a go at making a Christmas stocking. Alex and I are really new to felting. We got into our new hobby quite literally because of the Covid 19 lockdown! Alex usually lives with a group of other young people, who have additional learning needs like himself, but because he has a lot of complex health issues, everyone decided it would be safer for him if he moved back home to live with his Mum. Since March 2020 when he returned home to live, we have tried lots of new activities, including gardening, art and felting! Alex really enjoys his new felting hobby, as it is something he can do on an equal footing to everyone else. It is giving him such a lot of pleasure, because he gains such a sense of achievement, and we have discovered that felting is something that is fun and it’s also something we can do together! The first thing we made was a sample! Not quite knowing how it would turn out, we decided just to play and have fun. That 12″ square of felt turned out pretty well and we were eager to try making something we could use. Alex loves colouring, and has amassed huge quantities of felt pens and other ‘tools’, so our next project was a pencil case. That turned out really well but it was large…larger than we planned! So it is now being used to hold his many small tubs of modelling dough instead! Having tried a few more projects, we have reached Christmas time! So, here is our latest project – Alex’s Christmas Stocking!

The resist…

First, we drew a template of a Christmas Stocking, which we then cut out to form the resist. I have drawn the dimensions of the template on the resist for you to see both in inches and cm.

The resist was quite large! I think Alex is very hopeful that Santa will fill it to the brim!!

The next stage was to start laying down some wool batt. We chose red and white wool for our project, as red is one of Alex’s favourite colours! I can’t tell you how much wool we used, because Alex likes to do things his own way! So we just went with the flow!!

Laying the first layer of wool!

We started to apply our wool, firstly around the edges and then filling in the middle…

That’s one side laid out!

We layered the wool vertically on the first layer and horizontally on the second layer. As you can see, we made a novice’s error here. We took the wool right up to the top of the resist!! We found that we had to insert another piece of resist in the top once we started felting, to make it longer and to ensure we didn’t end up felting the back of the stocking to the front! But Ho! Ho!; we’re only learning!!!

After we had finished layering our wool, we placed netting on top and applied our soapy water using a sponge. Then we gently rubbed the wool with our hands for while, gently agitating the fibres until they had started to felt together. Alex loves this part and gets really enthusiastic! Then, we turned the boot over to start the other side…

Time to start laying the wool on side 2

We repeated the layering, and after applying some net, we got started on the felting of side two.

Now we’re starting to get somewhere!

Alex can’t wait to start working with his palm sander, which was a beautiful gift to him from Robbin Firth at Heartfelt Silks https://heartfeltsilks.com/shop/
Alex loves to get stuck in!

Alex really enjoys this part of the activity because he can see things are starting to take shape!

Now the workout gets going!

I have to say, this is truly Alex’s favourite part of wet felting. He gets really stuck in with the rolling, and smiles like a Cheshire cat as he’s counting the number of rolls he does! He also knows we are nearly at the end, and he gets quite excited to see the finished project!

And after rolling, then fulling, this is how we ended up! We decided to decorate the stocking with a needle felted Snowman. Alex had his first go at needle felting, and he made the snowman and I did the fiddly bits!

Alex’s first attempt at needle felting!

And now, to see the final project! Alex is really pleased with his ‘oversized’ Christmas Stocking!!  I think there’s a definite bonus to the large Christmas stocking – it holds so much more!!!!!  We hope you like it as much as he does! And here it is on the fireplace, all ready for Santa to arrive!!!!! ‘Nadolig Llawen bawb’, Merry Christmas everyone, love from Alex and Lisa

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