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December 21, 2012

Turning old wool sweaters into felt

 

 

 

Tea cozy from felted sweaters
A bobble-headed tea cozy made from a felted cardigan


 

Felted wool blanket
Felted blanket in progress


 

Felt is my new BFF - it's cuddly, uncomplaining and easy to make, plus you can form it into endless cool projects.  

The steps are fast and simple.  Take a pile of wool sweaters, scarves and mitts, wash them a couple of times in the washing machine so they're good and matted, then cut them up into strips, shapes or blocks and reconstruct them into rugs, blankets, dog beds, soft sculpture, toys and accessories. 

[For more details on the felting process, see this week's column, I Felt That.]

You can join pieces of felt together by hand sewing it, machine sewing with a zigzag stitch, or by using a crochet needle.  

 

Crocheting felted wool
Crocheted edge-joining

 

Making rosettes using felted strips
Strips cut on the bias and joined with zigzag stitch

 

Felted wool bowl
A bowl made from strips of felted wool

 

 

Felted wool bowl (from strips of bias-cut felted sweater)
Bowl detail (upside down) - the concave bottom is a natural result of the sewing process. When you keep tension on the outside edge of the strip while sewing, the piece naturally forms into a bowl shape.


 

 

Joining felted pieces with a sewing machine
Random pieces of felted wool joined with zig zag stitch over flannel backing

 

Felted wool cat toy
The cat's favourite new toy - a felted wool ruffled mouse (ruffle-making details below)

 

Ruffled tea cozy from felted sweater
it's easy to create ruffles from strips of felted wool


 

You can create fast ruffles from strips of felted wool using nothing more than a crochet needle.  You end up with a robust and rambunctious spiral that you can turn into a bobble/pompom (like the one on top of the tea cozy at the top of this post).  Here are the steps.

 

Creating ruffles with felted wool
Using a small crochet needle (I used .75 mm or 1/2), pierce the end of a strip of felted wool.

 

 

Creating ruffles with felted strips of wool
Pull a loop of yarn through (I use mohair because it's thin, strong and slippery - and I used a contrasting colour so you can see it better)

 

 

Creating ruffles with felted strips of wool
Next, pierce the felt along the top edge of the strip

 

 

Creating ruffles with strips of felted wool
Then move about an inch along and pierce it again (I'm left handed, so you'll need to reverse directions if you're right-handed)

 

 

Creating ruffles with felted wool strips
Keep going till you've got 3 or 4 'stitches' on your needle

 

 

Creating ruffles with strips of felted wool
Now hook a loop of yarn and drag it backwards through all 4 stitches, including the mohair loop you made back at the beginning

 

 

Creating ruffles from strips of felted wool
Draw the yarn through that first loop and snug the ruffle gently so the yarn is taut

 

 

Creating ruffles from strips of felted wool
Your ruffle is starting to take shape

 

 

Creating ruffles with strips of felted wool
To join strips, just pierce the top edge of the new strip as though it were part of the existing strip. Felted wool doesn't ravel, so the raw edges won't give you any grief


Creating a ruffle with felted wool strips
Just keep going now, adding strips and continuing to draw the yarn through clumps of 3 or 4 'stitches'. The ruffle will start to spiral on itself and create a staunch and flirty effect. When you're ready to end the ruffle, just draw the yarn through itself a couple of times to make a locking knot.

 

 

Creating a ruffle with corked wool
By the way, you can use the same process to create a ruffle using tubes of corking

 


Because felted wool doesn't ravel, you can cut it into fringe, too.  I'll keep posting pictures of the stuff I'm making for my last minute Christmas gifts.  Or if you can't wait to see mine, you can find a lot of cool ideas here.


Hobbit coasters - felted wool
Felted coasters that I subsequently needle-felted, inspired by the ironwork design on the inside of Hobbit doors

Felted sweaters turned into dog bed
Why is it that everything you make for a dog gets taken over by a cat?





 

 

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