Tried a new form this week with a felting course run by the talented Julie Drobek. Julie has been felting for about 8 years and is a member of the Victorian Feltmakers Association. She makes amazing vests, scarves, skirts and creations (she recently sold a giant Far Away-style tree to a special school) and sells them through QAL Arts at the church once a month.
Felting is an ancient art-form and Julie said in Mongolia the craft is still used to create housing in the form of tents. We weren’t quite so ambitious – just a pretty something that we can fling on during winter and tell people “I made it myself”.
The process of felting is quite involved. The fun bit is at the start, choosing your wool and creating your design. Our silk scarves were laid out flat along bubble wrap and we tore bits of brightly coloured merino to make the designs. There’s a bit of a knack to tearing the wool – holding it at the far ends and sort of stretching it until it comes apart. Here are some of the works-in-progress…
That’s mine on the far right. Julie taught me how to make ‘leaves’ by twisting the ends of a piece of wool. I made the flower by dry-felting two pieces of felt together – basically laying them with their fibres criss-crossing and then pressing them with my hand until the fibres mesh. Then you cut out your flower shape.
The next bit is scary. Using a plastic milk bottle with small holes in the lid, you liberally douse your work with warm water that has a little detergent in it. Here’s Jenny demonstrating…
Then you carefully spread a large sheet of plastic over your work and spread it flat, starting in the middle and pressing out some of the excess water. Next you take your bit of rubber noodle and roll it all up with a towel.
Once you’ve rolled for quite some time (Julie recommends counting to 200 slowly), you unroll and re-roll in the opposite direction. Then another scary bit – you unroll and carefully peel back the plastic to see if the wool has stuck. Mine had – yay!
So the next thing you do is scrunch your scarf into a ball and throw it – hard – against the table. This activates the shrinking process. Once, you’ve really released your inner demons, it’s time to rinse the remaining soap out of your scarf with tepid water. Then you leave it to dry and wa-la! Here we all are sporting our new scarves.
Thanks to the Queenscliff Uniting knitting ladies for letting me gate-crash and thanks to Julie for sharing her wisdom and warmth. Did I mention that the whole process felt like some sort of wonderful therapy 🙂
So the only small problem is sourcing the right wool for felting can be tricky. Locals might try:
Wendy Dennis sells Polwarth wool straight from the farm in Birregurra – http://tarndie.com/shop/
Woolsy Trading Post at 142 Shannon Ave, Geelong West
Twisted Threads, 106 Ryrie St, Geelong
The Naked Sheep, 33 Ash Rd, Leopold
Busy Bee Fabrics, 170 High Street, Belmont sells Bendigo Wool.