So this week is the week before the sale I posted a few days ago. Jan, Carleen, Bernadette and I are all very involved in the planning and running of the sale. We are running around getting the organising done and trying to get our stuff ready too. Bernadett has a booth with another friend, she has to fill. The other 3 of us are in the co-op booth. It’s a booth for guild members who don’t have enough stuff to get a whole booth to themselves.
I have 3 things to put in the booth. Felted soap.
I have bags of sari silk in several colours
And lastly some spinning kits. I have only 6 of those the wooden wheels I use for them were back-ordered.
So now I am down to making signs and making sure I haven’t forgotten to do something critical to the sale. The weather has turned cold so that should help people start thinking about buying Christmas presents. Fingers crossed for a great sale for everyone.
This title made me chuckle. 🤭 It sounds like I’m going to lecture, about good hygiene. But no, my post is about felting soaps, as take-away gifts, for my niece Lauren’s bridal shower. The shower was in Phoenix, this past weekend. I declined my invitation, knowing I would surely melt in July’s hot temperatures – never dreaming there would be a triple digit heatwave. However, as her only aunt, I wanted to send something special, to help with the shower. Felted soaps are always appreciated, by any recipient I give them to…so I asked her mother what she thought? I explained they are lovely, and useful, pieces of hand made art. With a few questions, about colors and theme, I was ready to tackle the job.
The theme: Petals and Prosecco.
I taught soap felting classes, at a fiber show, and a couple fiber retreats. In doing so, I developed a descriptive narrative, to help people understand the process. I experienced many pitfalls, in my learning process. I like to share my mistakes, to prevent my students from experiencing the fate. Felting soap, while not hard to do, can humble any experienced Felter. [Truthfully I had 2 bars fail this time.] Sometimes it just happens!
Generally, the following method works pretty well for beginners. This recitation, is close to what I usually say to my students, as we felt our soap together. I have inserted photos as illustration, where necessary.
1. Use wool that felts well! – For my batts, I try to blend dyed merino, with another easily feltable wool. Add fancy fibers, like silks and angelina, sparingly. I tend to add those fibers to the top of my batts; that allows me to pull small amounts of the add-ins, as decoration. Always try to add a thin web of wool fiber, on top of your silks and fancy fibers. It helps them felt in better.
2. Use a vegetable peeler to remove all 90 degree, or pointy edges of your soap.My best advice – use less wool than you think. Lay out 3 very thin layers of fiber; only enough to cover the area of your bar of soap, with a small overlap. (Photos)
3. Wrap bar of soap, being mindful to cover corners of the bar. This is where you can add wool yarn embellishments, if you choose.
4. Carefully wrap in a nylon knee high stocking. Better yet, use cheap nylon footies – ones you use to try on shoes with. [Amazon sells them – $8 for 144.] Grab the wool wrapped bar, with your socked hand, and carefully pull it over.
5. Add luke warm water to a 2 quart bowl. Wet wrapped bar – dipping quickly. Pull wrapped bar out of water, and begin pressing air out of the wool. (You will hear the air leaving the wool – sounding like little farts.) Press sides, press edges, press ends…keep pressing as the air continues to bubble out. Do this for a minute or two. As you press, soap suds begin to form. Some soaps foam more than others.
6. Quick dip in water again, begin pressing the fiber as before. Keep pressing. You should be able to feel all of the contours of the bar of soap. The wool should feel so tight, on the bar, you almost don’t feel it present.
*Only after about 5 minutes of pressing and pressing, around the bar…should you attempt to start rubbing. ***This is where the felting problems happen. Ask me how I know this?? When I am in a hurry, and rush the process, the wool says “No, no, no!”
7. When you do rub, imagine your bar of soap is a new-born baby. You wouldn’t rub your baby roughly…start by rubbing very very gently. After a minute or two, your baby is 1-2 months old, so add a little more rubbing for a minute. Rub all the edges and ends too. Now, your baby is older and you can begin building up the rubbing. [Wipe your soapy hands off with a towel – don’t add more water unless you absolutely have to. Trust me!]
8. You can peel your stocking/footie back, to make sure the wool is tight to the soap, and not sticking to the nylon. If still sticking, you need more rubbing, so wrap it back up and rub some more. Otherwise, remove the stocking, and rub all over some more.
9. Here if you feel the need to felt a bit more, you can rub the soap bar on bubble wrap, or something with a little texture. Make sure every edge is tight to the bar, and you’re pretty much done.
10. Start running some warm water, in your kitchen sink. Rinse your hands off, and quickly like before rinse the bar. Press all the water out, dry outside of bar with paper towel, then set aside to dry.
I generally stop at this point feeling satisfied with the beauty of this simple look. But for the shower, I planned to try something different. I decided to use bits of fiber and felted scraps, to needle felt a loose flower shape. I didn’t take pictures of that process, but I did think to photograph my leaf process:
I dug in my bin of felted pieces and off cuts. I found a lightly felted bit of prefelt, in various shades green. Perfect for leaves.
I placed my rough flower shape on the bar of soap. For this example, imagine a round piece of felt/fiber. I divided the round shape by eye into petals. Then at a petals edge, I grabbed it with my felting needle tip, and pushed toward the center of said flower. I did this 2 or 3 times around the flower. As shown in the photos above, I cut leaf shapes from the green prefelt and rolled it between my hands a couple times. Whenever my leaf rolled on itself, I flattened it out, and kept on going. (Note: that could work well for another project) For the stems, I used a US-E hook and green yarn to crochet a chain of about 10 stitches. Each of these flowers, stems, and leaves were totally different. I let the colors and fibers determine their own destiny.
I broke 4 felting needles, on this project, before I figured out my mistake. I watched a YouTube video that said to “needle felt directly into the soap.” I beg to differ with them, unless they have an endless supply of felting needles. I found keeping my felting needle between the felt and the bar of soap worked fine. (See the edge of the leaf, photo above.)
While I am sharing tips with you, I should warn you, these soaps took a good bit of time. For these, I chose to use organic, specialty bars of soap, because they were for my niece’s family and friends. If you ever try selling them, as I have in the past, don’t bother using good soap. While purchasers enjoy, good quality soap, they rarely believe you have used it. I did a fiber show in Mississippi, and used “free” 2oz soaps, we got when traveling. I sold them for $5 ea, and they were gone in 40 minutes. I used a better quality, organic soap in my next batch, and couldn’t get people to part with $7.50. As I sit here writing this up, I don’t see these as money makers at all! But, if you have the supplies, and a bunch of soaps hanging around, they make pretty nice gifts, or stocking stuffers. And…they look so pretty on the tables at a shower.
After leaving the hedgehog overnight to dry on the air filter, he had successfully completed his mission to dry.
I could now begin to add a bit more width to his cheeks. Next, add his coat. I chose an Icelandic fleece using the outer guard hair part of the dual coat as the bristles and bits of the inner coat to help space and increase adhesion of the guard hairs.
I separated the tog (outer coat of guard hairs), which is less inclined to felt when wet, from the undercoat which is soft and crimpy. To separate the two types of coats, hold the tips and base firmly and gently pull away from each other. Sometimes it takes a bit of a rhythmic tugging to free the tog. Once separated, I could use the tog to start building the outer prickles for the hedgehog.
I used a 38 star needle for most of the felting (except the ears which I also use the fake clover tool with T40’s loaded). I lay the guard hairs down, attaching across the locks then laid in a bit of the under coat to increase adherence. I worked the needles at low angles to almost parallel to the fibers catching a few fibers in the barbs at a time and pushing them into the layer of felt over the soap bar.
I added a bit of the under coat to give extra adhesion.
I then folded up the tips which had been pointing away from the fibers I was adding to. Again securing them into the under layer of felt above the soap.
Occasionally I would add a bit of the under coat to the folded tip side too.
The order of addition was backwards to the layering I usually do when I want a coat to lie naturally. Since I wanted this to stand up, I needed to increase the density of the coat so it would not lie down. This time I starting from around the face (in white) then switching to the darker part of the coat, worked back towards the butt. I left the butt ends a bit shorter than the tips as I laid them in.
Once I got his coat on, I brushed and lifted the ends with the mini carder (dog brush). This fluffed him up nicely.
He is a cute little hedgehog! Here is a shot of the underside so you can see the bar of soap which is the base.
Laying in the coat which is quite tightly packed took most of the day. I finished him after dinner and did the fluffing. So this would not be a economically viable option for mass production. There are a couple other options that may work faster such as using a section of the washed fleece and attaching it to the underfelt more as a blanket rather than a few locks at a time. I suspect it would not give the density that adding locks as I did allowed.
Poor little guy, doesn’t suspect his life will be full of wetness then getting dry just in time for the next wetness to set in. I bet he would drip dry quicker if he could hang up. I should add a “rope” for this soap. I looked first at a piece of Kumohimo but the cotton fiber seemed wrong.
So, I took the brush waste from the mini carder and added some of the washed locks and drafted it out. By adding a good deal of over twist with one of my spindles, I quickly had a two-ply yarn that could be mistaken for a rope.
I added the rope with a bit of needle felting along the edges of the underside of the soap-hedgehog using a bit of the under coat and pulled apart bits of the extra yarn to help secure it.
Ah, that’s better a way to dry faster and a loop handle so you don’t have to pick him up by his nose!
Last thing left to do. It is Valentine ’s Day after all, so He needs a Heart! I hunted around, found my bag of various red coriadales, choosing Nutmeg, and hand blending it with some of the reddish brown undercoat from the Icelandic fleece. (Colour should never be flat! Unless you are doing something graphic)
A few quick stabs and I had the shape. Now to add it to the right spot. Hmm, there is not much wool on the underbelly of this hedgehog! So, I was very careful in the angle of felting. The needle does sink into the soap fine but leaves a stinky soap smell on the needle and a bit on the wool as it emerges. (Just a warning – make sure you keep the angle of entrance and exit the same or the soap will want to break your needle)
Now I just have to wait to find out if Glenn likes his new shower time friend.
57- 62 the unwrapping, he found the Heart!
Yes Success!! I will try to get a shot after his first shower experience and see how he holds up!
63 First Shower! one bedraggled hedgehog
There seems to be a strange moose in my bed but he does have a bag of chocolate Easter eggs so I guess he can stay! (This is Canada, you do find moose in odd places here, often in swimming pools)
It is normal to see the triceratops, Cthulhu (who is somewhere else today) and the Balrog in bed. The moose was a surprise so was the chocolate, he can stay.
Oh NO! I got distracted! I will get back to work shortly but I was so inspired by Alex’s Ladybug or Bird and was wondering if a hedgehog would work with a bar of soap? There was also a suggestion of a heart of soap for valentine’s day…… hmmmm. I wonder if I can combine that?
Bad Brain!!! Stop thinking and wondering where the soap stockpile is stored! No! It’s wet felting! It involves getting wet!! NOOOOOO! Remember brain we like needle felting partly for its DRYNESS! Even if there is occasionally a bit of blood, it’s not as wet as wet felting! ….hmmmm.
I think Glenn would like a hedgehog soap for Valentine’s day, it will last longer than chocolate or flowers!, (the flowers without roots that is.) Oh well, I guess it must be done, I will get wet! Step one, I will need to clean the bathroom sink (yes there is almost no counter space in the bathroom so it was messier before I neatened it up a bit).
Let me think, what will I need? Fibre, soap bar, a container to work in (the drain is problematic so let’s use a plastic box to work in), I need to find some bubble wrap and maybe a zip lock bag would help contain the wetness? I blended up a bit of white and beige for the nose and over felting fibre.
I discovered that the soap hoard is woefully low at least of my glycerin soap (remember to add that to the shopping list). Luckily, Glenn’s giant package of smelly soap from Costco was only half gone! He probably won’t notice one is missing until after Valentine’s Day right? (he didn’t)
I quickly noticed that the sink is not a comfortable work high. I wonder if I flip over the storage box and use that as a table surface. Yep, much more comfortable. Remembering the instructions from Alex and his Mom, the fibre must encompass the soap. Then the fibre and soap are secured by putting it all in a nylon and felted. I don’t have nylon. I also want to have more fibre on the back than the belly as well as having a nose and face at one end.
I alternated thin layers making a shape that would wrap around the soap and then added more in the middle and towards one end.
A bit more in in the butt I think then wrap and a bit of needling to hold everything together.
He needs a nose; a bit more poking will fix that. Better check photo reference! I watched (listened to) a few YouTube videos as I continued to needle felt until the general shape was achieved.
I found a small piece of bubble wrap (I spotted the larger piece after I was done) and an extra-large sandwich bags.
Now the hard part, I have to get the wool wet so that soap (Liquid Lavender and cucumber you can see in the photos) and agitation can do their work. Hedgehogs’ first bath!
I got a flash of a brilliant idea! If I put the wet soapy hedgehog and the bubble wrap in the extra-large sandwich baggie I could sit and watch the impeachment of the neighbour’s ex-president. Rather depressing, but it will keep my mind off the possibility of impending wetness. (I will work in the plastic bin in case that happens). The seal was stressed but as much as the soapy bubbles tried, only a few escaped.
I started softly, gently, caressing the fibres. Slowly increasing my pressure until I was massaging with some enthusiasm (I have a license for that!). Unlike work, I used bubble-wrap on this patient, focusing on the nose and the general body shape. I built up so much soapy lather that it became hard to see the hedgehog! After a few impeachment presentations, I felt I had achieved Felt!! I also had not sprung a leak and got wet!
Time to rinse out the suds and make sure the felting worked! (really I can’t see much in all this soap!)
I brought the Hedgehog back to the office so he could dry and finish watching YouTube, maybe I will have to give him eyes so he can better see what is happening. In the meantime, he is practicing some form of Yoga nose stand. I wonder what that pose is called. (Balanced nose drying?)
While I know watching a naked, eyeless, hedgehog dry is absolutely fascinating, and is worthy of hundreds of photos, at every stage of wet to dampness to ultimately dryness. I can see that you may have other things to do so I will resume once he has accomplished his mission to dry. So I will pause today and resume to see if I can add spines and other important parts.
I got my dryer balls and my soap done and it is now up at the museum store. the dryer balls have information on how to use them on the back and the tag explains them as well.
A few weeks ago a friend at the guild was selling off left over yarn he bought to do a project that was now finished. I bought these. They are all singles form Brigs and Little. Some are solid and some are heathered.
I decided to use the yellow to make the design on a dark purple hat. I had to partially felt the hat before wrapping the yarn around it. it would have been to difficult to do it sooner.
I am quite happy with how it turned out. the sides dip a bit but I think it looks ok anyway.
This week I did a few things. I put hang tags and price stickers on all the dryer balls, bags, soap and ruffle neck scarves that go to the Log Farm for sale. At shows I usually just use signs when I have groups of things that are all the same price. I delivered those and almost immediately got a call from the Museum store saying they needed more soap and dryer balls. Yesterday I made up the dryer balls and popped them into the washer today.
I would show you what they look like done but my dryer died. Thats a job for tomorrow now.
I did however get some soap felted.
The other thing I got started on Friday(I think) was some slippers for samples for a class I have on Dec 1. I didn’t have a sample of the ear template style.
I only got as far as laying out.
They will also be a sample of Finnish wool. We use Corriedale for the class. Its a good felter without being to fine like merino and it comes in lots of colours. People seem to want colour. This will show them what another kind of wool felts up like.
That was my week. I hope you managed some felting done too.
I have a ‘thing’ for organza. I know, I have a ‘thing’ for all fabrics, but there’s something about organza I just can’t resist. Maybe it’s the two-tone colours of some, and also how they can be very different to each other while being similar. So, I thought I’d make a very textured nuno with various organzas. Like the other pieces I’ve made recently, I used 4 very fine layers of Merino. This is the whole piece:
Looking at the back, you can see how textured this is too:
Looking on an angle shows the many different textures:
It’s interesting how differently the various types rippled, probably due to how much Merino and how it was laid as well as the different finishes of the fabrics. The yellow piece, folded in columns:
The Purple on the right edge (and the red/yellow next to it) had more of a scrunched texture.
In this photo you can see the migration, and the way these organzas had a crumpled texture:
I made some felted soaps last week. They’re not perfect, but I’m getting better at it! I find natural wools on handmade soap works better for me, but people do love the bright, colourful ones!
With the arrival of fall I don’t seem to have much time to felt. Today I have to make some felted Soap for the museum store. I thought I would show you how I do it. I do it little differently then Leonor Calaca showed you in September. felting-soap Please remember there is no one right way so you will probably find other ways to do it on line too. They are all good.
Here everything is ready to start. these are my bins of small amounts.
I wrap wool around the sides and then around the whole thing. The green was a small piece of a batt I had and the red is combed top.
Than I wrap either a thin piece of wool top or a piece of silk hanky
Then into a piece on nylon to hold it all together. I make up a bunch and then take them to the living room so I can watch TV while doing the felting.
Once its felted I put it on a cake drying wrack to dry. I am afraid I only gat as far as the pile above and then my grandchildren showed up for an unexpected visit. So here is a picture of some I did another time, drying.
The other thing I wanted to do was remind everyone , especially the people that missed the last one that Terry Berry is doing another Concertina hat class on November 4. Everyone in the last class had a great time. Here is the link to the class. Felted-concertina-hat-with-teri-berry and her is the link to some of the hats people made in class. felted-concertina-hat-gallery
Between recuperating and traveling, I haven’t done much heavy felting lately.
I have been doing some small projects to try to stay in touch with fibers.
The one felt project I did do was to make some felted rocks for my son Matt in Florida. Last time he visited us, he was intrigued by the felted rocks I keep in the guest bathroom in a crystal dish that was my mother in laws. Since I had made his wife, Lia, a clutch purse, I thought I would do something for him.
I used different wools, silk throwsters waste, silk roving and yarns to embellish them.
I didn’t find the right dish before I brought them down there, but will look on our next trip.
While I was doing a little felting, I decided to try felting some soaps. I had never done it before and had bought several bars of Yardley soaps. (Purple and Blue on top.)
One was English lavender and the other aloe. Both were very fragrant to the point I had to put them in another room to dry. Too perfumy for my taste.
I have a small pillow I use to sit on at my vanity. I had some matching old sheets and decided to make two covers for them. Yes, I could have felted a cover, but I wasn’t ready. Besides I feel guilty about my Pfaff sewing machine sitting idle. So, I cut out two cases, stitched them and added a design just for fun.
What projects have you been working on since the New Year started?
I have a show coming up this weekend (fiberfest) so I have been busy getting ready or trying to get ready. I have managed to get the soap felted. I have very clean and wrinkly hands as I type this. 🙂
I could list what I don’t have dome better than anything. I do not have these hats finished. I am hoping to do that today. The red one needs the strings cut an then some buttons put on to hold the folds. The green one needs the feathers outlined and the veins sewn in. the orange one need reshaping.
I have spindles made but they need painting and then the kits put together.
I have 2 scarflets, 2 sets of fingerless mitts and a pill box hat that are half felted. I don’t think they will be get those finished. No picture of those, sorry
To add to the chaos I got a part time job. I drive a van taking children to school. So I spent the week end working out the timing for the trips and this week doing them. Going back to school time is organised chaos. Excited and nervous children and parents, school busses and vans and we all want to be at the front door of the school at the same time.