Friday Night Felt-Making

As I mentioned on Friday, I was gripped with the sudden and intense urge to felt a hat on Friday. It turned out to be a full-day of caring for various children, so I was happy to retreat to my studio when Michael got home from work. 

I found and followed this excellent tutorial. First I assembled supplies and tools: soap, ball, 3 ounces of Leicester Longwool roving, 3 pairs of pantyhose, a bowl and a beer:

Layered the roving over the ball,

Then I secured the roving with three layers of pantyhose tops, got the work totally wet with hot water and rolled it around in water for about a minute. 

Then I bounced the ball, rotating it all around, on the counter for about 5 minutes. After that, I could take off the pantyhose and remove the ball. The wool fibers stuck together enough that the work could be handled more roughly.

Then I rubbed it on the washboard for a while, dipping it into hot water now and then.

I upgraded to my new favorite beer that Michael thoughtfully brought home and kept shrinking the work by throwing it firmly into the sink.

I have never tried this technique and it worked so well! I'm planning to try it the next time I hand-felt knits. Plus it was fun to briskly throw/slap the wool down into the sink. It's hard to tell the scale from the photos, but when I took it off the ball, the hat measured about 31" around on the inside and eventually (and surprisingly quickly) shrunk down to fit my 22" head. 

At the end of the night, I had a well-fitting hat "blank" that I'm planning to shape and embellish this week. I also will probably try to dye it, I like the brown but it's pretty sheepy looking. 

But still, what a fun, quick project! The hat is sturdy and much thinner than if I'd knit and felted a hat. I bought some merino wool to try next, I'm hoping it will be even smoother and thinner. It's in the dyepot right now.

Here's some more hat inspiration, all made differently than the technique I'm using, but still super-applicable. 

I like this simple cloche.

and many of the cloches from Knox Hats Revisited. 

This tutorial on blocking a felted hat seems helpful, even if she's talking about a knitted and felted hat. 

I'd love to take this class on Freeform hat blocking. Here's a preview video- looks really fun.