Felted Autumn Runner {Tutorial}

The crafting bug has hit hard.  I don't know if it's the fall weather, enticing me to curl up with some knitting, or my newly found addiction to those image linkies that appear on so many craft blogs and have tons of fall craft inspiration on them.  Regardless, I've been itching to make some fall decor for the house, starting with a felted wool table runner.
I started with some wool that I had in my stash.  Ok, I have tons of wool in my stash, having felted many things over the years.  Specifically, here's what I needed, supply-wise:

  • Wool roving (carded, combed and dyed. I buy this from Halcyon Yarn)
  • Felting mat (or nubby shelf liner)
  • dish soap
  • hot water
  • water
  • old sheer curtain
  • bath towels
  • felting stone (optional) or two plastic bags
Put a large bath or beach towel down on your working surface (in my case, the kitchen table).  Lay your felting mat out on a large table, making sure the textured side is down.  The texture on the mat will help agitate the wool fibers and allow them to felt.  Depending on the size of the piece you want to make, you'll need a mat and surface that is slightly bigger than your finished size (felt shrinks).  Rather than a true felting mat, I used some nubby, bumpy shelf liner that I bought at IKEA on clearance.
Begin to layer your wool, mixing colors as you go. 
 The pieces of wool should all run the same direction for the first layer.
Once the first layer is completed, start a second layer making sure to lay the wool out perpendicularly to the first layer.  In this case I chose to use plain brown wool
 Yeah, kind of gross---looks like cousin It.
Keep adding layers, making sure each layer is laid out perpendicularly to the previous one.  I ended up making 4 layers.  You should do at least 4 to get a nicely felted piece of wool.
Once the wool sandwich is completed, lay the old sheer sheet on top.
This ensures that the felted layers won't move around while you're rubbing and felting them.  Put a tea kettle on for some hot water (or use your tap if you have really hot water, like over 120 degrees) and get out the dish soap.  I put a drop of dish soap in a bottle and added hot water.  Shake well.
Squirt/sprinkle the soap onto one end of the sheet
Then get your felting stone or 2 plastic bags (one on each hand, so they slide around over the curtain rather than stick to it) and start rubbing the wool.
 A felting stone is nubby on the back
Which allows it to agitate the fibers.  For the felting of wool to occur, one needs three things--heat, water and agitation--to happen.  Your hands do the same thing as the felting stone, and the dish soap and plastic bags help them not stick to the curtain and mess up your layers.

Start from the middle and work your way out to the sides.  The wool will compact down quite a bit. 
Keep adding more hot water (about 1/4 cup at a time), and rubbing.  
Here's a peek beneath the curtain.
It's beginning to felt!  I went back and forth between using the felting stone and my hands ensconced in plastic bags.
Once the layers have significantly flattened and are not shifting around, you can remove the curtain.
I put a bit more hot water on the felt, then roll up the mat.  The nubbies are going to do the work now!
Secure the ends with rubber bands so it doesn't unroll, and lay the wool sushi on a dry bath towel.
Roll it vigorously back and forth about 50 times.  Water will ooze out but that's ok.  Unroll the mat, then re-roll it from the other end.
You'll keep repeating this process until all layers are felted and won't pull away from each other.  I probably rolled it 200 to 250 times.  I also flipped the piece over and worked the other side, once it was able to be lifted without falling apart.
Once you're happy with the results, it's time to move onto the fulling process.
Remove the felt and lay it on another dry bath towel.  Roll it up like with the mat
 and roll vigorously another 50 or so times. This is helping to shrink the felt even more.
It works well doing this on the floor on my knees.  I remove the felt, then flip it over and roll it the other way too, often using another dry towel.
Once most of the moisture is removed, you're done! I'd like to embellish mine in the next week or so by squaring off the edges with scissors and doing some embroidery on it. Though I am partial to the organic, ragged edge too.
PS. How do you like those little votives?  I just covered votive holders with paper from an old book and wrote "boo" on them with a Sharpie. 


Amy Warden said...

I've felted soap before - very similar project, but not as much work!! http://www.greatcakessoapworks.com/handmade-soap-blog/index.php/making-felted-soap/

Bonnie said...

Wow! That was a process! Doesn't look hard to do, but definately a process! how wonderful is that! I have never done felting but see it popping up here and there. I think I would like to try something one of these days. I have seen the cute little felted acorns on some blogs, have you seen those? I really love the colors you chose for your runner! You did a beautiful job! You are so talented!!! I like the previous comment from CanCan.."I want to be you"...cute!

camelfam said...

I think you should consider writing a book about using book pages in art projects :) I love all your ideas!

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