I had such a good time using my scraps and embellishments for my coupon case, I decided to do a larger project using panels. And using up more of my scraps.
Here is the first large panel. I started on white prefelt and added bits of leftover batts creating a cloud effect for the background..
Then I added silk selvage, pieces of cheesecloth, silk pieces, scraps of scarves, metallic fabric, yarns and a little of this and that, topped with threads and a bit of wool wisps to secure the threads.
The next panel I forgot to take a pic of the cloud background. But for this one I used silk selvedge, silk scraps, cheesecloth, boucle yarn bits, mohair, prefelt offcuts, and pieces of leftover roving amongst other things including threads.
It was fun just picking out things from bags and literally throwing it on. The textures are great.
I love the way the threads cross over and look like roadmaps.
Here is the first one finished with closeups.
I was surprised the prefelt just grabbed everything. I had to shave each panel to get some of the glittery stuff to shine again.
Our guest artist today is Leonor Calaca from Felt Buddies shares her method for making felted soaps. You can see more of her work at http://www.FeltBuddies.co.uk
Hello! Today I’ll teach you how to make your very own felted soap.
Before we start however, I’m sure a few of you are wondering, “What on earth is a felted soap?” Good question! Allow me to explain.
A felted soap is, as the name might reveal, a bar of soap that’s surrounded by felted wool. This means you’re basically getting a bar of soap and a washcloth in one product, making the former last longer, while using the latter as an exfoliating agent.
The wool around the soap also makes the soap last longer, and when the inside is all used up you can use the wool as compost material, or keep it as a decorative pebble.
Christmas is fast approaching, and this would make a great gift – it smells nice and it’s useful, what’s not to love? I actually sold out last holiday season!
Let’s get started, shall we?
First, you’ll need the following ingredients: warm soapy water in a clean container, a nice bar of soap with round corners (sharp corners may break through the wool), enough wool to cover the soap with, and some bubble wrap for friction.
A couple of good extra items are a felting needle (I’ll explain why in a moment), and a pair of kitchen gloves.
Begin by carefully wrapping the fibre around the soap. I used a lovely wool top with silk tweed here, but you can use roving or a batt – just make sure you’re using enough to cover the soap, but not so much so that it makes lathering hard!
You’ll need to wrap the fibre in two opposite directions. I like to start by wrapping it horizontally and then vertically because I think the end result looks nicer, but you can do it whichever way you prefer – just as long as you have two opposite layers.
Remember the felting needle I mentioned before? Here is where it can comes in handy: I like to needle felt the ends to make sure nothing comes apart when I’m wet felting. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but I find it keeps things neat.
Once your soap is all wrapped up, it’s time to dunk it in warm water. I highly recommend you go slowly at this stage, as the fibre might fall off the soap or migrate if you haven’t secured it with a felting needle. Squeeze all the air bubbles out carefully in the water and, once you take the soap out of the water, gently squeeze out all the excess liquid and start rubbing the top layer lightly so the fibres start clinging to each other.
Once the fibre is secured, it’s time to help it shrink around the soap. I had a bubble wrap pouch from a mailing bag that I used to help create friction, but regular bubble wrap will work just fine.
Rub the bubble wrap against the soap, checking regularly if your fibre isn’t migrating, you don’t want to end up with bare patches (you can needle felt some extra fibre on those at this stage, and continue wet felting).
Once the fibres start contracting around the soap, you can use your bare hands to continue the felting process. I like to create friction on the ridges of my sink; I sometimes also wear kitchen gloves because the rubber also helps, and I like to alternate hot and cold tap water so the fibre shrinks around the soap faster.
Once the fibre feels compact around the soap, you’re done!
Carefully rise out the lather under the tap, gently squeeze the soap and let it dry; after that, you can add some kraft paper around the soap to make a “belt,” or you can just place it inside an organza bag.
Don’t be surprised if, after gifting this to friends, they come back for more! You can always direct them to this tutorial so they can make their own…
Feel free to ask me questions about this in the comments section. Happy felting!
Thanks Leonor for sharing your method of felting soap. I have a feeling a lot of people will be getting soap for the holidays.
The last time I did a World of Wool order, I got some Botany Lap Waste. If you’ve not heard of this it’s basically a huge bin they have at WoW, where they put the left over tops from the ends of carding runs, and when you order some they grab 500g out of the bin and you get what you’re given, but it is cheaper than Merino or blends and sometimes you get a lot of the luxury fibre like yak, alpaca etc. This time it seemed I got the ends of someone’s bizarre order of various greys, including what looked like natural grey Merino blended with trilobal nylon (why?!) I don’t know why they can’t have a ‘neutrals’ choice for browns, greys etc. The rest of my bag was a kind of dyed steel grey Merino, some green Merino which looked like it was their Gooseberry shade, and some pinky pale lilac I didn’t recognise. I carded them all up into batts then put them through again with other Merino to make some blends. I put the lilac through with various shades of purple and a few blues. Then I used a diz (a brass picture hook with 3 holes) to make roving:
I made another batt with the same colours, but added some orange, pinks, yellow, red, and some brighter blues:
This is what the roving looks like unwound:
I put the gooseberry batt through with some green shades and light/bright blues. I meant to make roving, but forgot, so I might put it through the carder again. One side:
The other side:
I put half and half gooseberry and grey through the carder, and made roving:
When I was putting the batts and blends away in my Workshops Supplies tubs, I discovered some other odds and ends from when I did MakeFest last year. I might blend some of these greens with half the gooseberry batt I forgot to card:
I found some gorgeous (even if I do say so myself!) texturey batts I’d forgoten I’d made too. I might have to save these for when I get a spinning wheel to make some texturey yarn!:
A couple of months ago while shopping at The Fold in Marengo, IL, owner Toni Neil asked me if I’d be interested in teaching a wet felting class. Many of the people who shop there are knitters, crocheters and spinners and she said they were curious about the felting. I agreed and we settled on November 1, class size and I provided her with a class description and supply list along with a list of the items I would be supplying.
I always think when taking a beginners class it’s nice to come home with something you can either use or show people, so I chose to make a place mat. In preparation, I made a couple as examples and gathered some other samples to show how embellishments can be used. I also brought along, yarns, prefelt, and some silk for embellishments.
I provided a pool noodle, bubble wrap, a template, a piece of polyester curtain fabric for each student and gathered up my samples and other tools to discuss as we worked. In addition, I printed out flyers for the forum, a resource list and a general step by step guide to basic wet felting for future reference.
The class was held in Toni’s kitchen at The Fold which was comfortable for four people. Unfortunately, they had to turn away a fifth, but I don’t know where we would have put another body.
I was surprised to learn that a couple of the ladies had come from as far away as Beloit, WI and Highland Park, IL which is an hour and half away. The other two lived closer to me.
The kitchen was nice and bright. So sunny, pictures were a little hard to get.
The one thing I learned is that they would have preferred to not have choices as to design. However, I’m never one to squash the creativity of a group and as it turned out they helped each other and while they followed basic designs they added their own creative touches.
Toni M (not the owner) finished first and was pleased with her first project and decided she liked her organic edges.
Dana brought some beautiful Churro yarn she’d purchased from New Mexico and made her mat a bit more abstract with a lovely turquoise background.
Carolynne purchased her roving and yarn to match at The Fold with the intention making an additional five mats of the same design which featured the stripes and abstract yarn design.
Since Candace had just purchased all the merino sheep from The Fold, she chose to feature a sheep on her design that she cut out from prefelt and used yarn for a fence, silk for clouds and some roving for grass.
They were all pleased with their place mats. We worked hard, but had a good time. Now these knitters, crocheters, spinner and weaver have a new tool in their fiber kits! I hope they will continue to experiment and join us on the forum. For more information on The Fold check out their website http://www.thefoldatmc.net
I haven’t taught a class in a long time. I was tired, but a good tired and had fun meeting new people and sharing my passion with them.
Last Friday, Cathy (Luvswool) and I took a lovely drive out to Belvidere, Illinois to tour the Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill.
Nestled in the midst of farmland, we were surprised to turn into a homestead driveway. I guess we were expecting a huge factory, but it was a quaint store and small facility crammed with custom made machinery. The idea for the mill started when Jane Zeien’s family purchased two ewes for a 4 H project. The family enjoyed working with the sheep and began raising Cheviot, Hampshire, Shetland and Cotswold sheep. They decided to expand their services to help promote the industry.
The Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill can handle everything from washing fiber, blending, picking, carding, pin drafting, custom dyeing, preparing batts and spinning. All types of natural fiber are welcome unwashed or washed. And no order is too small and each fleece is processed individually.
Jane greeted us and led us into her workspace and into wool heaven.
We were surrounded by fleece waiting to be processed in a variety of breeds and blends and piles of roving in a potpourri of colors and blends.
The picker has a big enclosed space behind it where the fleece piles up ready for the next step.
The carder dominated the center of the room.
Batts can be made on the carder by changing out the parts on the back of this machine shown here making roving.
This is the pin drafting machine.
Depending on the job finishing the wool can be done on the spinning machine, then the skeining machine.
When the tour was over we visited the shop where everything is related to sheep from skins to finished good by Pendleton and Woolrich along with handmade items, books, roving and yarn. If you want to learn more about the mill visit their website http://www.ilwoolfibermill.com/
Of course, we both bought some new wools to play with. One of my treasures was an English Merino wool batt.
When Cathy (Luvswool) and I went to the Midwest Fiber Fair a couple of weeks ago, in our conversations I mentioned I had an indigo dyeing kit I’d like to try. With some discussion on the forum about the smell indigo produced, I wanted to try to do it while the weather was still nice outside. Neither of us had used indigo before, so, I invited Cathy to join me in a day of dyeing.
I didn’t have a plan for what I wanted to dye or any specific projects in mind to use the dyed materials. But Cathy came well prepared with plenty of roving and fabrics to dye.
To save some time, I had set up the buckets for wetting and indigo along with the plastic coverings before she came. It was an overcast day to begin with with a nice breeze across the yard.
We followed the instructions, mixing the indigo, then the chemicals and stirred it in then let it sit for an hour. But there was no bloom as described. We reread the instructions and stirred again; then decided to skim the top and begin.
After the first batch, we returned the runny bloom back to the bucket and let our fabric oxide. It all looked fine, so we continued the process with the rest. Once the first batch was fully oxidized we tag teamed and I washed and rinsed while she dipped the next batch. Strangely enough after the first batch the bloom began to grow.
With a brief break for lunch, we managed to get everything into the pot we both had to dye along with the breaks for letting the pot sit after stirring. It was a busy day with the dyeing, rinsing and washing. And the day got hotter and sunnier as we worked.
Cathy had spent the evening before rubber banding a large piece of cotton gauze.
She also brought along a big pile of Domestic 56s roving, some kid mohair yarn, nettle and lace table cloth, miscellaneous bits and pieces of fabric.
I dyed two blouses that were old, but stained, a very old handkerchief with my name on it, yarn, mulberry silk, pencil roving, thick and thin yarn, a linen doily, some merino and cheviot roving.
I had wadded up some cotton voile and rubber banded it all around. The end result is the piece draped on the chair. I like the random patterns it produced.
Cathy brought some corks with her, so I used the corks on a piece of silk gauze.
She also dyed some old thrift store “lace” bedspread pieces, an old linen pillow case, a piece of muslin and a cat mat.
Since it was getting late in the afternoon and Cathy had a long drive home, we packed up her goodies and she finished rinsing and drying some of her items at home the next day.
We were pleased with the outcome of our “Summer Blues” and the opportunity to give some old items new life and others some pretty blue color.