Sunday, January 06, 2008

The right signs for making felt?

As part of my learning to grow things here in the Ozarks, I've been studying planting by the signs.
Now I understand planting by and working with and being aware of the phase of the moon. And that makes sense to me, my body feels it. The moon has a powerful affect on water, tides rise and ebb with its gravitational pull. And more than half of most everything - plants, animals and peoples is water.

But I don't understand the zodiac signs in relation to the daily calendar. Each day has a different sign related to it, the signs are related to different elements, they always flow in the same order but sometimes there are 2 0r three days of a sign... I think I'll take the word of people who understand the process, or be aware of it in my almanac, but it isn't native understanding to me.

Now people who understand the signs, say they affect everything - health, business, growing, creating, building - and on and on. Perhaps the signs explain why I suddenly can't felt!

Over the last few years I've grown to enjoy the process of felting, in all its forms - felting, fulling and needling. For the purist, felting is the wet process involving wool, hot water and soap; fulling is the process of washing a woven, knit or crocheted animal fiber item in hot soapy water to shrink, tighten and harden it and needling is the process of using barbed needles to tighten and tangle fibers into a felt-like mat or three dimensional object.

Mostly I felt my woven rugs, needle felt stress balls and felt cases for Shawn's knitting needles and crochet hooks. I use all the felting processes in making the cases and each case is unique. It kind of depends on the colors of wool we have on hand, the wool scraps I have felted, the buttons I have found and any new design ideas I've had.

So, when the last case was ordered, I set to work with the drum carder, blending soft white wool, a bit of turquoise, some black mohair, a highlight of jewel tone angelina. I carded and blended 5 soft fluffy batts and then began needling them into a square, 24 by 28 inches. I usually figure about 40% shrink, so was rather shocked to pull a 6X8 inch brick of wool felt out of the washer.

So I deconstructed a wool sweater, and needled a grey wool backing onto the resulting square fabric. It came out of the washer pretty well, but between the pattern, the way it wanted to fold, and the size - it was a crochet hook case. I needed one for knitting needles.

So I needled up some white wool, purple roving and highlights of yellow mohair. Kinda wild and 60's looking. The white wool turned a murky grey in the wash. The angles of the felt were interesting, but the grungy look just doesn't cut it. This one I might finish and perhaps someone will like it at a craft show or maybe I can find a way to brighten the colors.

Next, I decided I would needle a felt sheet and not wet felt it afterwards. The case would be fluffy, but I should be able to make it strong.... I wore out my arm, Lena wore out her arm, we tried steam ironing it and finally, about midnight last night, I finished hand sewing a backing on it. It's kinda pretty.

Now I just have to finish decorating it and find the right button and fastener....

Maybe the whole process just took long enough that the moon and the signs are now right for felting.

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