The other day, a friend of mine who describes me as being on the Menopause Trail behind her, introduced me to wool felting. I think I’m behind her because I still have the issues with instantaneous rage and the frequent need to chew something to pieces, literally and metaphorically.
We watched a video together and then she hooked me up with two of the most wonderful books I’ve seen lately (both available at Amazon):
1. Art in Felt & Stitch by Moy Mackey (published by Search Press).
2. Felt Inlays: Making Textured and Patterned Felt for 23 Projects by Nancy Hoerner.
We also looked at some felting videos and when I saw how it’s done, something primal in me reared its head and I was hooked. I think what piqued my interest was the mildly violent terminology both the videos and the books used.
I quote from Art in Felt & Stitch (p. 18):
These are extremely sharp, barbed needles, to take care when working with them. They are rapidly and repeatedly poked in and out of the felt painting … to add more detail to the picture and to secure any fibres that have gone astray. The barbs on the needles entangle the wool fibres as they are pulled in and out.”
In the videos that I watched about felting, the teachers used the words, “jab” and “stab,” which sound so very therapeutic to me!
The painting-with-wool in Art in Felt & Stitch overwhelmed me and I’m not ready today for wet felting (maybe tomorrow) so I decided to try something simple. I love making things with cats on them (purses and pillows and such) so I started with a simple cat shape on some pale yellow wool cloth I’ve had for years. I grew up wearing wool skirts and the occasional wool toboggan (it doesn’t get that cold around here) and of course, camping with a wool Army blanket. I remember them as my itchiest memories. No way I was going to make any kind of garment out of that wool cloth… but now I have a use for it.
So here’s the prettiest wool roving I have (I left out the drab colors so the picture would be pretty). Anyway, I ended up using just three colors: black, yellow, and green. The curly green is my favorite. It comes from the curly hairs of the animal right after its permanent wave (Okay! just making sure you’re paying attention). You can get versions of these colors at just about any craft store. Most of these came from Hobby Lobby.
You can see from the photo below that I started with a simple cat-face shape and filled in all of the black. I added the yellow eyes after that, on top of the black felt. Then I started with the green background.
I wasn’t sure if felting into wool cloth (instead of flat felt) would work but it did. The cloth had even been washed before (I did it) but since I wasn’t wet felting, it was okay for it to be pre-washed. By the way, the difference between wool felt and wool cloth is that the cloth is woven and with felt, the fibers are criss-crossed and willy-nilly, merged together kind of like the fibers in particle board. The wet felting technique, using hot water and soap, are what make the fibers swell together and form into felt.
I’m pretty sure my cat will need more of a face so I will add that before sewing all of the pieces together. Above, you will see two pieces of pre-cut cloth in soft gold upholstery fabric and two pieces of blue linen. I’ll just have to attach the cat patch and sew the purse together and then attach the purse to the frame. I made the pattern for the cloth based on the shape of the purse frame, which you will see shortly.
When men are frustrated, they can go out and shoot cans, use heavy machinery to pull up trees by their roots, or ax something. Truth be told, women of our menopausal persuasion don’t have the mental clarity to run heavy machinery (just ask me about the time I recently let my car roll in a WalMart parking lot) OR the muscle tone (thanks, Fleeting Testosterone) to ax anything. Speaking for my own menopausal self, I think “jabbing” and “stabbing” are the perfect antidote to the frustrations brought about by changing body chemistry.
This really is the best craft for the frustrated person. Whenever I get that ol’ urge to mildly destroy something, I tell my husband to run and then I grab up my jabbing needles. With all the jabbing and rapid poking necessary to needle felt, I get to vent my frustrations and end up with a pretty project, too. Then I can wipe the sweat off my face and say with satisfaction, “Wow! THAT FELT GOOD!”