The weekend before last I was at the home of my friends John and Val Lord of http://www.flintknapping.co.uk/ and they were having a family gathering as their daughter Gina was over from Canada for a couple of weeks.
One of their other daughters (Steff) showed me a really nice felt bag she had made and I told her about my failed attempt to make a bag here. Steff offered to teach me how to make a felt bag and as it was something Gina had never done, she was also keen to give it a go. We would be using pre-died and prepared wool this time.
The first task was to design a shape and then cut out a pattern to work the wool around.
Once the shape was cut out, one side had to be lightly covered with wool, ensuring all the fibres were laid in the same direction.
Then using soap and warm water the wool was dampened
and bubble wrap placed over it and with soapy hands the bubble wrap was gently rubbed to start manipulating the wool.
The pattern was turned over with the first layer of wool now face down and the process was repeated, folding in any wool that overhung the edge of the pattern. Then the whole lot was turned over, but this time a second layer of wool was added with the fibres laid at 90 degrees the the first layer and again the wool was wetted, bubble wrap laid over and gently manipulated to start the process of interlocking the fibres and different layers. In total three layers were added and after the bubble wrap was removed for the last time, the wool (particularly the edges) was worked with soapy hands. At this stage we cut open the top of the bag and removed the pattern and continued to manipulate the wool to help the fibres interlock. At this point the wool fibre layers could still be pulled apart with the fingers and needed to be “hardened”.
To do this the wool was rinsed in clean water to remove all the soap, then put into hot water and then manipulated very vigorously which required great effort and concentration!
Being serenaded by John helped to relax us as we worked (more about John’s musical talents later in the week)
and the transformation in the wool during this process was quite amazing and at the end, it was impossible to pull any of the wool apart.
For some reason my bag shrunk considerably more than Gina’s and ended up more like a woollen cup than a bag!
I must concede that Gina made the better bag which isn’t surprising when she demanded most of Steff’s attention and in fact Steff did most of the work for her!! (though I’m not bitter), but I was still impressed with my end result and as you can see below our tutor was very pleased with our work too!!
(sorry Steff….had to do it!)