|Here I am having fun demonstrating the tossing process|
|'Eartha' ~ the finished demo hat made from wet felted merino wool and silk.|
After four very busy months of no blogging (and no felting) I am so happy to be back at it again. I'm thankful the 'never ending winter' has ended and we are enjoying the most spectacular spring here in Ontario. Everything is late this spring and the lilacs which are usually finished by now are still in their glory. This should inspire me to make a purple hat I think!
Last month I moved CakeTin Hats felting studio from home to Rosehaven Yarns in beautiful downtown Picton (Prince Edward County)! www.rosehavenyarn.com . Then, on May 24th, after much organizing and preparation I taught a one day, wet felted hat making workshop to six wonderful and talented students. The workshop took up every minute of the 9 am to 5 pm time frame except for the hour we took for a delicious lunch at the Regent Cafe ... where the food is great and the service is outstanding. If you come to Picton the Regent is a destination in itself, just like Rosehaven Yarn Store! www.regentcafe.ca
Everyone worked really hard on their hats and the results were worth the effort. Here are the lovely ladies modelling their finished (but still wet) hats. It's easy to see from their smiles how captivating it is to felt and work with wool and silk fibres. I will be teaching additional hat feltng workshops at Rosehaven Yarn Store on a regular basis. For information or to sign up check the workshop & Classes calendar on the website www.rosehavenyarn.com or call the store at 613-476-9092.
|Louise, Marilyn, Carroll, Sue, Mags and Peggy .... all tired but very happy!|
When I felt a hat I really like to keep things as simple as possible. Based on my own felting experience and the many techniques I have encountered in the various workshops I have taken ... this is what I tell my students: There are no mistakes in felting! Just something different than you had planned or expected. My philosophy in felting is the same as in life: Whatever you think will happen is never what happens. Each hat is truly one of a kind.
Some felters talk about the process being more important than the result. For me the end result is very important but I also enjoy the process. Every hat is an experiment in felting and no two hats will ever turn out the same. I always want to feel happy about the hat I create when I finish a days felting. I love spending time shaping and perfecting the final piece.
Each person should develop their own favorite method for felting. I have developed specific methods that work well for me but I believe there are no hard and fast rules. Everyone should find their own techniques and use whatever methods work best. Some felters like to use hot water. I use warm. Some felters like to roll the felt until it is fulled. I like to roll my felt a bit and then toss and throw it. You can be inventive when it comes to felting tools too. Just use your imagination. I love my tupperware juice container lid and find it to be the most effective felting tool ever!
Be inspired by colour. I like to use colours and colour combinations from nature. I like to weigh my fibre because I like thin (but strong) felt. I like to sit while felting and use a regular height table as a work surface. Sitting is easy on your back and perfect when felting something the size of a hat. If you are felting a larger object like a scarf or jacket you will probably have to stand and you will need a higher work surface and a stool. After explaining this I noticed that everyone was standing in the photos! They did sit down from time to time though.
One of the best guides for felting hats is Chad Alice Hagen's book ‘Fabulous Felted Hats’. There is much about felting on the internet which will inspire and guide you. Felting is an ancient and very unique skill with a spectacular end result that facinates most people. Once you are hooked on wool there is no going back! Here's how the workshop progressed...the finished demo hat you can see me making in the steps below is 'Eartha pictured above.
|Demonstrating laying out the fibre|
SIDE ONE: We began by laying out the merino wool fibres onto a polystyrene pattern resist template on top of the bubble wrap (bubble side up). I always start with a big towel underneath. I suggest using about 15 grams of fibre for each layer. I use three layers for each side of the hat alternating the direction of each layer... horizontal, vertical, horizontal.
Starting to add layer three horizontally on side one of the resist pattern. Edges overlap the resist pattern by about one to two inches.
Adding silk decoration on top of layer three. I hand dry felt the fibres pressing them gently before wetting. This is called "patting the bunny"! So soft...
Wetting out the fibres on side one. It's important to keep the edges dry.
Cover with bubble wrap and gently press the water into the fibres. I wet the top of the bubble wrap with the soapy water which allows my hands to slide on the surface. Sandwiched between the bubble wrap I flip the whole thing over, lift off the top layer of bubble wrap, fold over the edges for the seam onto the template and begin laying out side two.
SIDE TWO: Keep the fibres dry on the ends after folding over. This is so they will felt into the fibres of side two.
After folding over the edges begin to lay out the three layers of fibre on side two overlaping the edge by about one to two inches. Try not to overlap the fibre on the bottom edge at the head opening.
Add decoration on top of the three layers and wet out side two with the warm soapy water.
Cover the wet fibres with bubble wrap and press water gently throughout fibres. Try to keep the edges dry. Sandwiched between the two pieces of bubble wrap flip the whole thing back over to side one.
BACK TO SIDE ONE: Fold the overlaping edges back over onto side one of the hat, wet with soapy water, cover with bubble wrap and smooth with your hands making sure all the fibre is wet. Rub and tap gently, flip and REPEAT ON SIDE TWO.
SIDE TWO: Sandwiched between two pieces of bubble wrap roll the whole thing around a pool noodle, tie the ends with nylon stockings and roll back and forth approximately 100 to 150 times. Unroll, turn the whole thing a quarter turn and repeat. Do this four times on this side. Flip over and REPEAT ON SIDE ONE. The fibres felt in the direction you are rolling.
Here is everyone hard at work! Notice they are all standing.
After the rolling is done I remove the bubble wrap and take out the resist, open up the hat and use the juice container lid to smooth the seams inside and out. And then the fun of tossing begins. (I like to keep the bottom end of the hat open while felting but if it has felted together you have to cut the bottom edge to free the resist template.)
|My juice container lid. A great felting tool!|
Smoothing the seams.
Tossing is followed by stretching and trying on the hat for size. If further shrinking is needed I roll the hat around itself to continue felting and shrinking. To shrink in crown length roll it from brim to crown (top to bottom). To shrink in head circumference roll it sideways, always taking time to recheck the size on your head or the hat block.
I use wooden hat blocks to help size and stretch and shape the hat. I use the juice container lid to smooth the seams over the hat block. Unfortunately I did not get photos of this part because we were all busy shaping our hats and time was running out. There is no steaming and no chemicals involved in the wet felting process AT ALL. Just pure merino wool, pure olive oil soap and water. The rest is done with your hands. The hat is then rinsed in warm water, left to soak in vinegar and water for 10 minutes and rinsed again in cold water. Keep in mind when sizing your hat before rinsing that the cold water shocks and shrinks the fibres slightly more. It is then stretched and reshaped on the hat block (or your head) and left to dry.
Here are the pictures of everyone's finished project.
|Mags ~ who thankfully took the step by step photos|