Tactile felt hearth rug!

I forgot to mention yesterday that I did weigh the Icelandic wool and divided it into two piles.  There was just over 400g per layer and interestingly enough not much shrinkage overall by the time the rug was complete, possibly even less than 20%. 

Starting to lay out the Jacobs fleece

Cotton fabric between the layers of wool

I should also have said that I used green silk hankies both within the fleece and at several points near the edge of the rug but that the white silk tops around the outside might not be silk at all but is more likely to be tencel.   It felt quite different in the hand but as I don’t know where I got it from so this is just an uneducated guess!

Initially I worked the rug hard (several hours) by hand and sander on the reverse and eventually was brave enough to turn it over and work directly on the top.  It took ages for the fibres to start coming together, possibly if I had laid two layers of wool on top of the fleece and then the fabric as the last layer it would actually have been a lot quicker.  Whatever, another couple of hours later and things were beginning to hang together nicely.  When I was absolutely sure that the fleece was not going to come apart I chanced wrapping the rug inside a piece of cotton and putting it through a wool wash in my washing machine!  With the exception of rinsing Osman technique rugs or making beads from waste felt I never use my machine for felting, I prefer to do everything by hand.  This time however since I was in an experimental mood and the Jacobs is extremely slow to felt I decided nothing ventured, nothing gained.  After it came successfully out of the machine I worked it by hand again without any soap.  Another while later I put it through a 40 degree wash and again worked directly on the surface by hand for approx another 45 minutes. 

My finished hearth rug!

The finished rug is extremely tactile and will make a great fireside rug or else something to keep my toes warm during those cold Irish mornings!  More detailed images of the final result are available in my Flickr photos.
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Another felt hat, answers to questions

I had great fun yesterday finishing the raspberry ripple felt hat and then was inspired to adjust the template slightly and make another, this time with a fresh green and white colour scheme.  I also wanted to try incorporating silk chiffon and silk hankies into the Icelandic wool to see how they would felt together, I was very happy with the result!  I have now posted pictures of the second hat to Flickr and if you click here you can see some notes which I have added to the close up shot.  Move your mouse over the image and the notes highlight areas that clearly define the chiffon, the hankies and how the wool migrates through both.

Now to answer some questions ….. the wool doesn’t seem at all scratchy to me although it does have a very tactile texture, the raspberry/red highlights on the green and white hat are from the printed silk chiffon, scrim is a natural open weave fabric softer than jute but coarser than muslin, my Etsy shop is called Clasheen like the blog and the actual url for those of you who are technologically minded is http://www.clasheen.etsy.com and no, I am not going to shave either of the hats!

The completed tactile felt play mat

Felt attachments on my tactile play mat

Felt attachments on my tactile play mat

We started the felting process by gently wetting and working the fibres around the edges of the various components before wetting out the whole piece and rolling, rubbing and working the felt as normal.  The biggest difference in the way that Annette works compared to how all of us had learnt was that she lays out all her fibre and works everything on a towel instead of a piece of bubble wrap or a bamboo blind.  This is one of the most interesting aspects of any workshop, seeing how every visiting tutor preferrs to work and then adapting aspects of their practice to suit your own.  I did start all my work on my towel but then changed to work with the bamboo blind as soon as my fibres were holding together well.  Because I had no chair at Alan’s house (a long story!) I worked the piece for a couple more hours on Wednesday evening, pulling at the sides to get a sharp edge, rolling and throwing, here is the result. 

Finished at last!

Finished at last!

Putting what we had learnt on day one to the test everyone had the oportunity of making either a felt bag or a hat incorporating bumps, tubes, points or flowers.  Obviously I decided to go down the hat route, a great opportunity to have a successful experience after all my previous failed attempts!!  Green being one of my favourite colours I planned out a simple beanie style with loads of felt dreadlocks emerging from the top of the crown.  Here is an image of the hat being laid out, more details to follow in my next post. 

Adding dreadlocks when laying out my hat

Adding dreadlocks when laying out my hat