When a Cosy Decides to Become a Hat!

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This is the shape that I was going to use for my French Press or cafetière cosy.  I used the felting art batts I made on my new blending board that the hubs made me.  There were 3 in total.

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I must have had a senior moment, because I really wasn’t thinking clearly when I laid this out.  I won’t go into all of the details, but sometimes we can have an off day.  I did use another new toy on my felt and that was a sander!  I know, electricity and water do not mix, but if one is careful and has plenty of plastic (dry) in between the sander and the wet wool, you will be ok.  I have one of those sanders where you clip the paper on the bottom, but instead of sand paper, I have bubble wrap clipped on instead.  We bought it quite cheap from ScrewFix.  The hubs did some research for me.  It was supposed to be used for making layered flower brooches, but I have seen others on YouTube use it, mainly the Russians, on scarves and other things.  I love how they like to save time and their inventive ways!  So, after wetting and folding all of the wool down, I took out the sander and worked on both sides.  It only took about 5-10 minutes before I could roll it, instead of about half an hour or more.  I still worked the sides by hand.

When I took out the resist, I started to full the piece and it started to shrink alarmingly quickly.  This is when I realised that my resist wasn’t wide enough for the cozy.  I need to rework my maths on this one again.  In any event, I placed the piece on my smallest hat form.  It needed a little stretch, but I managed it and thought it should be turned into a hat.  Waste not, want not.  It was fulled enough, but not hard.  Although the batts are nice and fluffy, and there were quite a few layers laid out in different ways, I laid out the wool really thinly.  Some people like to slap the wool on the blending board.  I like to lay it out thin.  Especially for this felting batt, which is different from a spinning batt, where the fibers are all laid out in one direction.  The felting batts also make nice scarves!

Downloads2The hat was still soapy when I squeezed it on the hat form.  The rounded corners lended themselves to being shaped.  The swirly pattern is unusual, but I did play around with the top for awhile to get it how I wanted.  I then took it to the sink and rinsed off all of the soap in hot water while leaving it on the form.  I wanted the top part to shrink a bit more.  Once the soap was all out, I rinsed in cold water.  I then played around with the brim, stretching it outwards.  I haven’t been able to get a decent photo, but the brim does flare out a little bit.  I would have liked to full this hat a bit more, but it is a perfectly good, soft hat.  It is very lightweight and the silk shimmers.  I think there was some silk in the mystery fiber too and that helps to make it strong.  I am quite happy to wear this hat out and about.  Now all I need to do is actually make the French Press cosy!

Rocking The Cloche

So, after making my Boho cloche hat, I thought I would make something a bit more subdued while sticking to the concertina hat theme for the online course I am doing.  I recently ordered a bunch of Merino wool for making hats, but I also have a lot of Corriedale tops and slivers.  The slivers are good for needle felting and it does wet felt quite well, but it is not so good for wet felted paintings as the wool migrates too much and dulls the top colors down, although it is good for topping up a wet felted piece.  I have also learned that it is not great for hat making, as although it felts really well, it is a little bit itchy, even when sandwiched between layers of Merino!  If the hat gets too itchy, I might sew a hat band on the inside.  I have been trying to use up my Corriedale sliver stash as best as I could so this was a learning curve.  Although I have a lot of bright colors in Merino, I don’t have much in the way of natural colors.  Even the black is dyed.

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I wanted a nice sturdy cloche hat with a brim so I was going to make it with six layers.  I used black Merino batt for the first two layers.  I peeled the batt nice and thin, wet it out, and then I added two layers of grey Corriedale slivers.  In hindsight, I should have just used four layers of Merino batt and forgot about the slivers.  For a Merino batt, the black was quite coarse, so I am not sure if I will order it again.  It was the first time I used it and you can only get the batts in 200g minimum.  I will most likely use it up for needle felting or making a different type of vessel, such as a bag, cozy, or slippers.  For the last two layers, I used a bright white Merino top in Lightning.  It is very white and great for beards and clouds.  I was loving the white, but I knew that the wool underneath would migrate and tone it down.  Perhaps if I did the white first and felted it inside out it wouldn’t have gone quite as grey (I might try that next time).  I added white sari silk fiber and Angelina all over the top for some shimmer and sparkle.  You can just about see the Angelina in the close up as well as some other threads that were in the white sari silk.  I shaped the hat on two different hat blocks.  The wig/hat block you see above is my actual head size (it is child sized), but it is not so easy to make a brim on this type of block.  I used my smallest polystyrene hat block to gauge where the brim should be and worked on that for a little while before doing the final shaping on the wig block.  I had to trim off a fair amount off of the brim as I had modified a cloche template for a fold up brim.  I used the trim to make a band around the hat and then I stitched some beads on the center of the rosette and on the hat band.  Although you can’t tell from the photos, this hat is very sparkly, but in a subtle way.  That is one nice thing about Angelina, it catches the light.  Funny that the sari silk didn’t work as well as expected, even though I did cover the whole hat with it.  I think the migration of the Corriedale wiped it out and only left the colored threads.

The weather is too rubbish today to get a decent photo.  Even when the rain stopped, I couldn’t get a clear picture of the hat as it wanted to go white.  Winter is here now, so I am not very hopeful about posting great photos for some time yet!  At least I have a lovely warm and sparkly hat to keep my head toasty!

A New Felting Toy!

This felting lark has taken on a new turn.  I was saying to my hubs the other day, ‘You know where this is going to end up don’t you?  It started with needle felting, then wet felting, then it will go to carding, and possibly dying and then I will most likely go down the slippery slope and end up spinning wool’.  He said, ‘We are going to need a bigger house!’

So, I really want a drum carder.  That is the goal, to have one of those so I can card wool and make my own art batts.  I was lucky enough to sit with one of the ladies from ‘The Guild’ while she was carding some Alpaca wool with her newish drum carder.  As you should know by now, I research everything.  There are two manufacturers of drum carders in the UK and the third and fourth are imports.  I think one is French and the other is from New Zealand.   While researching one thing, I came across another thing.  It is called a blending board.  How did I not know about this thing?!  Which lead to other questions like how come I never knew about felting until I was almost 60!  How much time of my life left do I have to do it and make something of it?  Am I too old?  I think I have found ‘The Thing’!  I suppose better late than never and then I remembered the lady who started making pictures and prints when she was 60.  She is 70 now.

So, back to the blending board.  They are soooo expensive for what they are made of.  There are an extremely limited amount of suppliers in the UK of the carding cloth, one in fact.  You might be able to get something off of eBay, but I couldn’t find anything at the time of ordering some.  In the end, I bought a replacement blending board cloth from a supplier in the Netherlands.  With the rate of exchange, I saved 5-6 pounds.  That means something when one is on a budget.  The hubs had some leftover plywood from a job, so the total layout was what I paid for the cloth and what the hubs paid for some dowelling (2 different sizes) and some hardware, which came to about less than a fiver.

So, this is my new toy.  The blending pad is 30x30cm which is approximately 12×12 inches.

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It is so pretty, and it is adjustable, so I can have it on my lap.  If you google, there are people who have made their own by stapling the fabric onto a chopping board.  That is probably what I would have done if I didn’t have a hubs.  The cheapest one I found to buy was £85 on eBay, plus £14.99 postage.  That was a home made one as well, but not adjustable.  I don’t think one would want to sell them for less than that because of the time involved in making the board.

So, what does one do with a blending board?  Well, it is a good way of using up the leftover bits of wool one may have lying around that you can’t really make anything with.  People who spin wool can make their own rolags and batts for spinning wool on a blending board.  You can also make up roving for felting or spinning.  I found a video for making an art batt for felting a scarf by the fancy New Zealand company.  The whole thing made so much sense to me!  It is all about the layout!  When one is wet felting a  hat or vessel or scarf, you need to alternate the direction of the layers.  You can do that on the board.  You don’t do that when making roving for spinning as the fibers need to be in the same direction to make it easy to pull out.

I was looking in my stash to make a new hat and I realised that I had hardly any red merino.  Certainly not enough to make a hat.  But I did have enough to make a cafetière cozy.  Or at least I was going to have a go at making one.  So I got out all of my red wool stash and started to make an art batt for felting.  This is what it looks like.

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The photo shows the batt on the board with the finished batts and a close-up.  This wool is very red, though the camera likes to give an orange tint to it.  I started with some red sari-silk fiber, then some mystery fiber that I got as a freebie from World of Wool (I think there is some silk in it), then 4 layers of bright red merino, two layers of a darker red merino, then two layers of Corriedale tops, finished by two layers of dark red merino.  If I was going to make a scarf, I would have laid out the wool differently and ended with the same on both sides.  I didn’t need to use any more of my fancy wool as that was all on the outside.  I worked out that I would need three batts to make the cozy.  The other thing about laying wool out on the board is that the layers are quite thin and most likely thinner than what you would pull off by hand onto the template.  Though I have seen people just slap the wool on the board.  I suppose that doesn’t matter too much if you are going to spin it.

That’s all for now, tomorrow we make a cafetière cozy!