So after doing that last post I didn't get crackin' in InDesign laying out new patterns. Instead, I researched felt boot-making obsessively. Through the lovely Teaching Handwork blog I found a great video tutorial about making felt slippers. She also mentioned using wool batting from the West Earl wool mill, an Amish source for inexpensive wool. I bought several pounds there last time I was visiting my parents in Pennsylvania and use it for stuffing. I didn't realize it was good for felting. To top it off, my friend had the bubble wrap I needed for the project. I took that as a sign and started working on some boots as soon as I put my kids to bed.
I followed Pat Spark's directions for making a boot resist and flared out the top a bit. Then following the steps in the video, I layered wool on both sides, wetting it now and then. After building up 4 layers on each side and mopping up extra water from the dining room floor, I rubbed the wool with dish soap and more hot water.
The boots were huge but held together well after I cut them apart.
Then, following a technique I saw on the excellent HomeWork blog, I rolled them around a big dowel and inside bubble wrap and a towel for a while, changing directions every now and then. I also rubbed the boot on a broiler rack to shape it further.
Here is how the first one turned out. It's resting on the other boot that hasn't been fulled yet.
I am delighted with it. I really like the way it flares out at the top, I like the way it fits and look forward to finishing the other one and dyeing them. I am thinking of wrapping deerskin lacing around the top of the boot or up the back. I am thinking about adding a leather sole to the bottom so I can wear them outside. I was also thinking I could dip them in Plasti-dip, a plastic coating available at the hardware store. It's crazy how relatively speedy this is compared to knitting and felting an object. Plus, if you can buy wool for less than $6.00 a pound, like at the West Earl wool mill, they are more economical than knit boots too. They aren't done yet, so I will reserve judgement, but I think straight-up felting might be a better technique for shoe or slipper making. We'll see. It is pretty satisfying to knit and felt too...
I am going to felt the other one right away this afternoon, thinking about getting Julian, my 8 year-old, to help me roll the felt back and forth- he's got energy to spare!