Today I attended a class on how to make a felted hat, taught by Deb Moroney of the Bisbee Fiber Arts Guild. Twelve of us muddled through, had a blast, and went home with a hat.
First we each of us chose a piece of wool batting and divided it into four somewhat equal pieced.
Then we stretched out one piece to cover the pattern we’d chosen. It took awhile for me to get mine to the right shape. I wet the wool with warm sudsy water and then stretched out another piece of batting to top it with. Then I covered the sudsy mess with tulle and patted it into shape. I flipped the whole thing over, repeated the process on the other side, and wrapped edges of the fibers from the first side over the second side so the whole thing would felt together.
Then the fun: choosing pieces of wool and yarn to decorate the hat.
Next, I rolled the whole dripping hat in a large mat made of reed and rolled the hat to begin the felting process. I’d remove the hat, turn it a different direction and roll some more. Repeat, repeat, repeat. This process felted the decorative yarn and wool to the hat. Then I turned the hat inside out and rolled some more. The more I rolled, the more the hat shrank and the better the decorations stuck to the hat.
Finally, my hat was small enough to go into a hot water bath. Then the hard work – throwing the wet mess onto the table repeatedly. The combination of hot water and agitation causes the wool fibers to meld together and create felt.
Then I used a form to shape my hat, but the form was enough larger than my head that I had to sort of freeform the hat.
Eventually, I was done. A day of fun and a wonderful new hat!