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Archive for 'Felting'

Evolving through Handwork: The Value of “Process”

In our modern world, we have become a “product” oriented society. The enthusiasm and appreciation for “process” has been lost. With technology, we insist upon immediate gratification and instant results to meet our ever-changing whims. Vermont Grand View Farm, a sheep farm in the Green Mountains of Vermont, runs fiber classes and summer camps for moms and children in hopes to provide a means to slow down, observe, explore, and create. Children and their moms are invited to spend a week at the farm learning about animal husbandry, farm life, and the many fiber arts of spinning, felting, weaving, and knitting.

Getting to Know the Sheep

One goal for their summer camp focuses on teaching children how to enjoy the “process” of creating, by engaging all of their senses. The farm becomes the perfect tool for meeting this objective as it abounds with numerous opportunities for learning. The setting allows the children to slow down, discover the world around them, and fully engage in the steps necessary to produce a product without distractions.

This July, one group of summer campers met this challenge with much enthusiasm and proved that children can still enjoy the creative process. Within a week’s time they learned how to go from sheep to yarn. They began their week being introduced to the sheep, angora rabbits, and llamas who live on the farm. All week, they cared for the animals, providing them with fresh water and new pastures for grazing and learning about the relationship between nutrition and fleece quality.

Washing Wool

Their first day, the children skirted and washed a newly shorn Romney fleece. They learned about lanolin, crimp, and lock formation as well as the importance of careful feeding habits to reduce vegetation from contaminating the fleece. In the days that followed, the children dyed the fleece and learned how to card it into batts for spinning.

Dyed Wool Drying on Screens

By the end of the week, they were ready to spin the wool with drop spindles made with recycled CDs. At last they had yarn to take home with them.

CD Drop Spindle

To help them bring all of these steps together and to better understand the “big picture” of where knitted items come from, the children worked on a group mural which highlighted what they had learned. With wool as their medium, the children made the background for their mural using a wet felting technique. After layering the wool into a large batt, they covered it with a sheer curtain and began gently massaging warm, soapy water into the wool. Next, they rolled it up using a swim noodle and recycled pool cover. Now they were able to work the wool more vigorously rolling it back and forth until the wool turned to felt. This piece of felt became the background for their mural.

Gently Wetting the Wool

Rolling the Wool

Once they had made the background wool fabric, the campers were able to begin depicting each of the stages of going from wool to yarn. The children had decided to represent the sheep, shearing and washing the wool, carding and spinning, and lastly knitting the wool. They spent one afternoon making sheep and placing them on the background. Needle felted clouds and flowers were also added.

Making Sheep

Over the next couple of days, the children each made felt dolls which represented themselves. The dolls had pipe cleaners for arms and legs which were wrapped in wool. Then, they wound more wool around their figures for pants and shirts needle felting them into place. Using wet felting, they created small wool felted balls for heads and found yarn or wool to match their hair color. Each of the campers decide which stage of the process their doll would engage in on the mural and they began felting and assembling their portion of the mural.





Completed Mural

By the end of the week, the children had completed their group project. With smiles on their faces, they proudly presented their masterpiece to their moms.

The children approached their work all week with much joy and laughter. Often, as adults, we sometimes lose sight of the joy in the process of doing something and get bogged down in the steps. We want to hurry along just to get to the end product quickly. The value of taking time and savoring each piece of the project gets lost in the desire to have a final product in hand. When this happens we often skip the process entirely and grab the finished product from the store. The campers at Grand View Farm, fully embraced each day and the tasks set before them proving that there is just as much value and joy in the process as there is in the finished product.


Kim Goodling

Kim Goodling

VT Grand View Farm

Kim, a home schooling mom, is shepherd to her flock of Romney sheep on her Vermont hillside farm. Kim’s sheep, llamas, and angora rabbits provide the fiber for her mill spun yarn which she sells as yarn CSA shares. In addition to tending her flock, Kim teaches fiber arts classes and runs fiber retreats and camps for adults and children. Her farm offers B&B Farm Stays and invites you to visit their farm for a full farm immersion experience into the wonderful world of wool. Follow the activities at VT Grand View Farm on their farm journal and facebook pages.




VT Grand View Farm is giving away one night’s stay in their Farmhouse Suite which sleeps up to 4 people. Sleep under cozy down comforters in 4-poster beds and enjoy waking up to roosters crowing, farm fresh eggs, and home baked muffins. Relax on the porch overlooking the mountains, visit with the sheep in the pasture, or stroll the dirt roads and forest trails.  To enter drawing for this gift, valued at $200 please leave a comment by Thursday, August 18th midnight pst.  Winner will be announced on Saturday August 20th.

We have a winner!

Christine Condon
Submitted on 2011/08/16 at 8:35 pm
What an absolutely lovely business you have. I would love to see your beautiful farm and B&B! Thanks for the fun contest!


Posted by Kim Goodling on Aug 15, 2011 06:15 AM | 321 Comments

Felted Rings for Baby

When my baby was little I worried about all the plastic toys that came her way. One of the most beloved toys of a baby is the rings made of  - you guessed it – plastic! I wish I had thought to make this gorgeous hand knit and felted wool baby ring! Made by Babus Toys you can find it on their Etsy site.

Posted by Living Crafts on May 29, 2011 10:05 AM | 1 Comment

Black Hen and Little Chick

By Suzanne Down

Following is the instructions to make the Black Hen, little chick, and a cozy nest for Suzanne Down’s Mama Hen Surprise story in the Spring 2011 issue of Living Crafts:

1. Form a hen shape with dark pipe cleaners

2. Add a second pipe cleaner part way down from the head to just below the tail to create a 3-dimensional shape. Wrap any extra wire around itself.

3. Cut a third pipe cleaner in half and shape leg lengths and little chicken feet. Attach to each of the two bottom wires.

4. Wrap black wool wisps around the pipe cleaner frame. Make sure the wire is well covered with wool.

5. Take a poufy length of black wool roving the size of your hand and roll it around in your palms. This pre-felts it softly. Place it in the inside of the chicken form. This will help create a 3-dimensional chicken.

6. Using wispy lengths of black wool, begin wrapping it around the form of the chicken, needle felting each length to the inner wool to hold it in place. The inner wool will help to maintain the 3-dimensional shape as you work.

7. Pull the lengths smoothly and firmly around the wire form to get the chicken shape. For the head and tail area, use shorter lengths. Do this until you have a nice plump chicken form. Needle felt to give more form to the chicken. The more you needle in one area, the more it contracts in – this is the sculpting power of needle felting!

8. Using a light brown wool roving and small wisps, wrap the legs and feet, needling to attach and strengthen the wool. Join the leg wool to the body wool too.

9. With black wool, take two small equal proofs of wool and shape wings on a large sponge, one next to the other so they will be the same shape. Needle through the wool, into the sponge, and shape around the periphery. Peel them off the sponge, hold them up to the chicken to check proportion, then needle on the other side of the wings.

10. Needle felt them to the hen’s sides, leaving a part of them free.

11. For the beak, take a very small amount of light brown wool and roll it in the palm of your hand. Shape it on your sponge into a 3-dimensional beak in proportion with your chicken head. Needle it in place onto the chicken head.

12. Now it is time to create the red combs on top of the head and under the “chin.” Take small bits of red wool roving and roll (prefelt) in your palms. Shape them on your sponge as shown. Attach to the head of the chicken with your needle.

13. Needle felt on a tiny amount of white wool with dark brown wool over it for eyes, careful to balance each eye so they are symmetrical.

14. All that remains now is adding any decoration you might like. I have used tiny lengths of white to add to the feather look on the tail. This is optional.

The little chick will be made in exactly the same way, just start with a much smaller wire frame and keep the wool fuzzy. You may decide to make several, some black, some yellow. The little chicks will just get a tiny beak, and they do not yet show their combs.

To make a cozy nest, use light brown wool roving. Roll a thick length of roving into a circle shape big enough for your black hen to easily sit with room to spare. Needle the ends together to hold the circle. Place a round of wool to make the next bottom and needle felt all of it into a whole.

And now you have the most important props to make your story visual!

To download pdf click here.

Posted by Living Crafts on Mar 22, 2011 01:14 PM | 8 Comments

Martha Stewart’s Whimsical Tapestry

Martha Stewart Mural

Check out the beautiful mural Martha Stewart designed for her new granddaughter. The colors are baby blue and white – very beautiful - She’s getting into needle felting. That’s a Good Thing.

Posted by Living Crafts on Mar 22, 2011 08:34 AM | No Comments

Making Prefelts

By Fiona Duthie

How to Work With Prefelt

This article is a part of Fiona Duthie’s How To Work With Prefelt in the Fall 2010 issue of Living Crafts. The article, rich with information on What is Prefelt, how to make scarves and hats with prefelt, as well as a section on How to Work with Children and Prefelt, did not allow room for this important part, which is How to Make Your Own Prefelt. As one of our subscribers said on our facebook page: “Making prefelt is easy. It is like bad felting!” Well, it is easy, with Fiona’s instructions. At the end please be sure to leave a comment so you can win two pounds of wool from Decadent Fibers to make it in any color of prefelt your heart desires. Enjoy!

Here’s how to make your own prefelt, in Fiona’s words:

Making your own prefelts is so easy- and opens up so many opportunities for playing with colors, fibers and textures. Try using two or three different colors in layers; using wool for one layer and then another fiber like alpaca or angora for the next; or making nuno prefelt with a layer of wool and a layer of silk fabric. Handpainted rovings make beautiful prefelts, and make efficient use of the roving when layered onto solid wools. Two layers of wool will be fine for prefelts used for surface designs. For more substantial prefelt, use 3-4 layers. It is wonderful to have a collection of these made and ready to chose from, when the urge to felt arises!

Work on a sheet of bubble wrap.

Lay out a thin layer of wool roving. Use your thumbs to pull open the wool shingles. Overlap each row a little to ensure an even layer.

wool roving

Lay out a second layer of wool roving, with the fibers perpendicular to the last layer. Here you can use a different color or fiber.

second layer of wool roving

You can make several at a time, by laying out more of these squares on your felting surface.

you can make several at a time

Cover with a polyester sheer, and sponge on the felting solution (1 tablespoon dish soap + 1 quart water). This gives even coverage of soap and water, without adding too much! You can also follow the wetting instructions described in the Red Rock Prefelt Scarf.

sponge with felting solution

Press down with your sponge, and with your hands; at first pushing down and then using a gentle rubbing motion. Do this over the entire surface.

Remove the sheer. It will lift easily if the wool is wet enough.

Make sure it is good and wet

removing the sheer

Tightly roll up in the bubblewrap. Roll for five minutes, gently at first and gradually applying more pressure. You want the fibers to have entangled, creating a thin, coherent textile. It will still be a bit fragile. It is important not to overfelt, since you need those fibers to mingle with your base fibers or fabrics when using in your finished piece.

Tightly roll in bubblewrap

Rinse carefully under warm running water and lay flat to dry. Keep as a whole prefelt length or cut into desired sizes.

Finished prefelt pictures:
finished prefelt

finished prefelt

Wool Giveaway

Our sponsor for today’s project is Decadant Fibers offering two of their Gourmet Jelly Rolls, made and dyed in the U.S.A. in any color of your choice, enough to make yards of prefelt and other felting projects of your dreams! We’ve used this quality fiber for some of the projects in Living Crafts, including the Felted Farm Co-op in the Spring 2010 issue, as well as Fiona’s famous [by now] wool roving rugs in the Winter 2011 issue. Each roll is valued at $40 and is one pound in all colors of the rainbow. You choose which two color combinations! Enter a comment on this post by 8 p.m. EST, Tuesday, March 1, 2011 for a chance to win two Gourmet Jelly Rolls valued at $80.

And the winner is…

Joanne Libby 2011/03/01 at 10:40 am 

  I really like these contest you have. The wool looks beautiful and i would love to play with it !

Posted by Living Crafts on Feb 27, 2011 12:10 PM | 616 Comments

Designing Your Own Wool Fabric – Part II

by Annette Ringeisen

In today’s post, we bring you Part II of the project, (Part I was posted last week, with a tutorial on dyeing your wool fabric), which includes transferring your design into the fabric by a special felting process. Brought to you by Living Crafts in two parts, Annette Ringeisen, an accomplished fiber artist, and Living Crafts magazine contributor, teaches you how to dye your own wool fabric, felt your design, and prepare it for any sewing project you wish.

Today’s tutorial is sponsored by ArtFelt offering a huge giveaway at the end of this post! Here comes Annette in her own words with Part II:

Thinking of a Design

My idea is to embellish my fabric with a needle-felted design, and I’ve chosen two images: a bird sitting on a branch and a branch with red berries. This process is going to be very different from what I am used to. I tend to be very “free hand” in my designs, but I want a repeated design for this project, so I must work with patterns. First, I create the patterns by drawing the design on a sheet of, either, ArtFelt paper for felting or a stabilizer (one that that will wash out).

Next, I copy each design onto a square of the stabilizer (I use ArtFelt paper). I copy the designs over and over again. Wow! How many squares fit onto just one yard of fabric? If you are like me, you might not want to know. It’s better to just get started, knowing you’ll be impressed with yourself when you count up all those squares later.

I feel like I finally can get started…

… on needle felting that is. Fortunately, I have a table that I can leave everything set up on; otherwise, I would have to roll up my fabric every time and also clean up my needles and fibers.

So first I lay out the squares across the fabric to see how I want it to look. Keep in mind what you want to make. Will you need all the pictures facing in the same direction? Is it better to spread them randomly? How close together should they be? I recommend picturing the final piece in your mind’s eye, maybe even sketching it.

Coloring in

Using the felting needle and wool fiber, I start filling in the pattern. It is almost like coloring in a coloring book. I put felting foam underneath the square I am working on and move it to every new square.

Though you will only need a small amount of wool fiber for each square, this amount, of course, multiplies by the number squares you have. In the beginning, you are making just a rough outline, but as you move along you will needle more precisely. Moving the felting needle up and down into the background will felt the fibers together. In the beginning when fibers are still “loose,” they can be moved. Once they are tightly felted they should not be pulled out again.

This is what I am singing in my head right now!:

99 felted squares on the fabric, 99 felted squares. Felt one down and pass to the next, 98 felted squares on the fabric.

Yes, I have never before been so happy to be done with a needle/wet-felting project!

I say this, but do not let it stop you from trying this project because, in the end, it is all worth it!

It is time to wet felt!

Remember:  the design is tightly needle-felted into the fabric, so you needn’t fear it moving around. On a large piece of bubble wrap spread out the fabric and wet it down with soapy water (olive soap or Ivory dish soap and water). Cover it with bubble wrap and roll it up. Moving it back and forth will felt the fabric in one direction, so after a few minutes switch the direction and roll up the fabric the long way.

In order to get rid of the stabilizer, pour boiling water over the entire fabric. I was able to do this in the kitchen sink. Once done, the fabric can go into the washing machine to shrink it down a little more.

Once air-dried the fabric is ready to be turned into a beautiful piece of clothing.

But now that I am finished, I am thinking…oh, wouldn’t it be nice to make fabric like this to cover the old armchair, or maybe the sofa in the other room… You know, the pillows could really use a new cover…Well, I decided I want a soft, warm jacket for myself. Here it is!

The jacket was sewn by Nikki, the hands and heart behind Tadpoles & Butterflies (custom sewn children clothing) and Kobieta (custom sewn clothing for women).


Artfelt is sponsoring today’s tutorial, with giving away two each 5′ x 10′ pieces of ArtFelt paper each valued at $45 plus 20 hanks of wool roving in a variety of colors, each weighing 50 grams, each valued $10.50. Total retail value is $255. To enter drawing, please leave a comment on this post by end of the day Sunday 16th, 8:00 p.m. EST.

Our winner for this giveaway is Colette: “Lovely results. I would like to try it!”

Posted by Living Crafts on Jan 13, 2011 01:50 PM | 396 Comments

Designing Your Own Wool Fabric – Part I

by Annette Ringeisen

Project Picture

In this project, brought to you by Living Crafts in two parts, Annette Ringeisen, an accomplished fiber artist, and Living Crafts magazine contributor, teaches you how to dye your own wool fabric, needle felt your design, and prepare it for any sewing project you wish. To get to know Annette and her company, Wool Creations, visit

The first part is to dye the fabric with acid dyes, and is sponsored by Jacquard Products, offering a giveaway to die for at the end of this post! Here comes Annette in her own words with Part I:

Here’s my plan:

I’ll start with two yards of woven wool fabric, add a bit of dye and some needle-felting, and end up with a richly colored and beautifully patterned piece that I will sew into a lovely jacket.

I know this won’t be the quickest project I’ve ever dreamed up, and I know that I can sometimes, perhaps, get a little ambitious with an idea and before long find myself knee-deep trying to complete it. As a child I would get big ideas. I’d start them, but then not ever finish the project. But I’ve come a long way since then.

(or so I hope…)

Dyeing the fabric

To start, I’ll need to prepare my fabric by soaking it for 30 minutes in a mix of warm water and a good amount of vinegar. I used 58” Wide Wool Melton Beige Fabric By The Yard by Tuva Textiles often available in fabric stores, but any woven wool fabric will do.  Here’s a close up shot of the fabric before dyeing:

It is important for the fiber to really absorb the liquid so the dye will be taken in easily.

While I wait, I can mix my colors. I’m in the mood for an earthy palate, so I go with yellow, orange, brown, blue, and red.

I follow the directions on the container of the acid dyes from Jacquard Products. Always be sure to use all recommended cautions and follow the directions for best results! Also, as they say on their website, the only acid is the vinegar you use.

I’ve decided to dye my fabric with the low water immersion technique. The outcome is always a bit of a surprise, and I guess I am in the mood for a bit of surprise. I use an old large crock-pot, a perfect fit for all my fabric. Along with the fabric, the warm water and the 2 cups of vinegar, I leave enough space for the dyes to be added. I like to experiment with dye order. Depending on how and in which order the dyes are added, the results can be very different. These pictures show that it can be fun to experiment.

To dye my fabric, I first pour yellow onto one area of the immersed wool and watch it creep along the fabric. The color will be more intense where it first touches and more subdued where the fabric folds. Try to move the fabric as little as possible if you would like more variations of shade, but move it more if you prefer a more uniform saturation. After a few minutes, I add the next color. I have to be patient—my colors will get “dirty” if I add them too soon. When the water is clear, I know my color is absorbed and another color can be added. By the way, as I do all this, my crock-pot is on. The temperature is kept just below boiling, as recommended for the dyes I
am using. This is important for the dyes to set.

Now it is time to let the dye-bath cool down and then to lift out the fabric. I rinse well in water till the water runs clear. I’m eager, but I cannot felt the fabric just yet.

Please stay tuned for Part II on Monday, when you will learn how to design and transfer it onto your fabric. Here’s a peek:


Dye Giveaway Photo

Jacquard Products is sponsoring today’s tutorial, with giving away one complete set, including one each of their 40 colors of acid dyes! This is valued at $175. To enter drawing, please leave a comment on this post by end of the day Monday, January 9th 8:00 p.m. EST.

The winner for this Giveaway by Jacquard Products is Melinda Zinda:

I have always wanted to try dying my own fabrics. The colors are so beautiful. I would love this win!

Posted by Living Crafts on Jan 7, 2011 09:22 PM | 474 Comments


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