Wet felting is the technique of tangling wool fibres to create a dense piece of fabric. It is used to make toys, decorations, apparel and even homes, like the Mongolian yurt. Wet felting is an ideal project for children and adults. Felting can be accomplished using wool rovings, which is washed and combed wool; raw wool; knitted or crocheted items; or old wool sweaters and can be used in a variety of projects.
Wet Felting for Children and Beginners
Some crafts take a short amount of time and are easy for little hands to make. All you need is raw wool or wool rovings, soap and warm and cold water. You can roll a handful of colourful wool into an oval or ball to make Easter eggs, a pin cushion or juggling balls. If you have white wool, you can string three different sizes of felted balls together to make a snowman ornament for a Christmas gift. Cup coasters and hot pan holders are also easy to make with felted wool. All you have to do is make two layers of wool and lay them flat inside a zippered plastic bag with soapy water and knead with your fingers until it is firmly felted.
Wet Felting Apparel
Wool rovings work best for apparel, as you have a better command of the thickness. Necklaces, bracelets and belts can be made by rolling long pieces of wool into rope, or laying the wool flat and kneading with your hands to produce a flat, square appearance. Scarves, hats and mittens are more complicated and use larger quantities of wool and time. It is important to make your pattern 20 to 30 per cent larger than the finished product, due to shrinking during the felting process.
Advanced Wet Felters
Felting a shawl or jacket is a good way for experienced felters to use lots of extra wool. These projects take more time and expertise but are very useful. More ambitious felters might be interested in felting large quantities of wool to make an insulated wall similar to the felted wool walls used on the Mongolian yurts. Wall hangings, blankets and yurt and tepee walls require laying the wool flat between two tarps, adding soapy water to the wool and then rolling it into a tube. After it is in a tube, you will need to roll it while applying pressure to gain a strong felted piece.
Wet Felting Knitted Projects
Knitted and crocheted hats, scarves and blankets can also be wet felted by washing them in the washing machine. If you don't knit or crochet, you can use old wool sweaters and garments. Old sweaters are ideal for making diaper soakers and bags, but you will need some sewing experience. You can take off the sleeves, felt the sweater in the washing machine and add elastic to the waist to make a diaper soaker. To make a bag, you would sew closed the holes from the sleeves and add a drawstring or felted rope.