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.


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.


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!

A Reversible Boho Cloche Hat


Here I modified the snail hat template to make a cloche with earflaps.  I used merino on the inside and Corriedale tops on the outside with some sari silk for embellishment.  I had ordered loads of Corriedale tops when I was making vessels and thought I would see how it would work on a hat.  As you can see, the colors are quite vibrant as they come in all the same colors as merino, but is a bit cheaper.  It does felt well, but you need to work it a bit more.


Here it is all wet out and ready for a massage.  It took ages to shape on the hat form as the top could have been wider.  Note for next time. I bought a mini steam iron for just this sort of thing and steaming the top of the hat helped to really stretch it over the form.  This is what the hat looks like reversed.


I used 4 layers this time.  I thought 6 layers would have been too much, and definitely 2 would have been too little, so 4 is right in the middle (though 5 would have been ok too!)  The 4 layers make it a little bit flexible for reversing it.  I am in-between contracts at the moment, so I have had a bit of free time these last few days.  I have been watching YouTube video tutorials on how to make flowers.  There are so many talented people out there.  The first flower brooch I made for the blue hat was made by making a piece of felt and then cutting pieces out and stitching them together.  I didn’t need a tutorial for that, but it is a common method of making flowers.   This time, I used a multiple resist method which connected all of the layers together in the center.  The down side to this method is that it does take a long time to dry!  I have also seen people use sanders when making a hat.  It does cut the time down and can make a very nice fine felt.  So the hubs researched a good and cheap one to buy, so guess how I am going to make my next flower brooch!  This is what the hat looks like on.  Please remember that it is winter in England and I don’t have a lovely young model with a small head to model my hats.  It is just me and some bad lighting.


I’m really happy with how the hat turned out.  Off to make another one now!

A Wet Felted Slouchy Hat


I did my wet felted hat workshop with Gillian Harris in Dorking on Saturday.  It took me about an hour and a half to get there and was quite a pleasant journey.  I even had time to pop into the coffee shop for breakfast. 🙂  There were only three of us in the workshop. This meant that we had a lot of space to work at.  I have to say that I was quite envious of her workroom.  I imagine one day…!  The cost of the workshop includes a 10% voucher off any purchase in the shop on the day.  As I got there early, and I knew what I wanted, I started shopping early.   Gillian’s shop is one of two places in the country that I have found where one can purchase hard Styrofoam hat forms and shoe lasts.  Fortunately, they had some in.  I now have one of every size hat form and shoe lasts for me and the hubs (I had him trace his foot on a piece of paper) and for newborn.  I also purchased some Angelina in different colors, a handbag handle, some soles for slippers and a few other items.  With the discount and no shipping charges, I got a bargain!  The shop is lovely and sells pretty much everything you need for felting and knitting.

We looked at our hat options and as I had been making ladies’ hats lately, I thought I would make one for the hubs for a change.  I tried on the slouchy hat, which was a bit big, but it looked good on me, so I thought it would be good for the hubs, as we both have small heads.  We had already discussed color options and as hubs has a nice black down jacket, I would look at grays and black.

We measured out our heads and made the template by adding another 20% for shrinkage.  Once we had cut our template out, we watched Gillian lay out the fiber for the first side.  She only uses two layers.  I have never worked with two layers before, so this was going to be interesting.  Everyone has their own method of doing things.  I was basically making a rectangular shape.  I chose my colors, a gray and a black merino, with some silk fiber for stripes.  The hat is meant to be reversible, and that is why Gillian uses two layers, so it is slouchy and easy to turn inside out.  Now, I must have been having a senior moment, because when I was laying out my wool, I got into a zone and kept laying out the first color and forgot to lay out the second color.  It was supposed to be two tone on the inside and outside.  I managed it for the outside, but I made another error when laying out the inside for the back.  Ideally, the hat should have had a folded brim going all the way around the hat, but due to my error that is not how this hat was formed.

In any event, I managed to full down the lower part of the hat enough so that it would fit.  It was still damp and waiting for the final touches when I brought it home.  I have to say that my husband is a good sport.  He tried on a cold, damp hat on his bald head while I shaped it as you see it above.  I bought a fiberglass hat block in his size from a wool store in Germany.  With the brim down in the back, it does keep his neck warm.  When the hat was dry, he tried it on again so I could work out the placement of the vintage buttons.    This means that the hat will not be reversible, but that is ok because of my senior moment!


I think the hubs looks pretty good in his new hat.  He, on the other hand, is still coming to terms with it!  At least no one else will have a hat like his! 🙂