Friday, 4 December 2009
Adventures in felting
Some time ago I ripped a suggestion out of a magazine which advised searching charity shops to find attractive pure wool sweaters at bargain prices, then bringing them home and purposefully felting them to turn them into various projects. Great idea, thought I, then promptly did nothing about it for months. Meanwhile I read further stories about people finding Jaeger sweaters in pure cashmere, unpicking them and knitting themselves bargain luxury items.
So a few weeks ago I tore myself away from my computer (the work-from-home prison cell) to go out for a walk and some fresh air, and I thought "I know, I will go and trawl the charity shops for woolen items". Great plan, and I love going out for a walk with a goal. And our town has about 5 charity shops, so I thought that I was bound to find my choice of items.
Well, it seems that wool sweaters are no longer commonly available. Searching through five shops, I found just a couple of items that were wool/acrylic blend, one lamb's wool man's jumper in a very ugly mustard colour which was already partially felted, and everything else was acrylic. However, I did find this 'Pure New Wool' scarf and decided to settle, and go home for a cup of tea.
Examining my new purchase (rather stiff and yellow with age, and probably never used) and removing the fringing, I found that the two ends were finished off with overcast machine stitching. A vision of a handbag took shape in my mind.
I cut off the two ends, folded the remaining scarf in half, and re-stitched the ends onto either side of the scarf to create a bag shape. The overcast edges became the top edges of the side pieces. I left two flaps standing up to accept the handles later. I assembled the bag with machine stitching, and also ran a line of zig-zag stitch across the two cut flaps so that they wouldn't ravel.
Then I threw it in the washing machine with one of my son's trainers for agitation, and ran a short hot cycle. To my delight, it came out beautifully felted, and considerably whitened. (as was the trainer, so my son now has one grey trainer and one white trainer).
I shaped it with my hands and set it on a towel to dry, and also pinched together the sides with a few clamps so that the sides would fold inwards easily once dry. My husband came home while I was shaping the bag, and asked "what's that?". "A scarf", I replied, with a perfectly straight face.
I had two bamboo handles that came free with a magazine, so I stitched the flaps over the handles using matching sock yarn, then 'gathered' the flap by running some yarn along inside the fold. The resulting handbag will make a handy knitting bag for small projects. I might sew a catch or loop at the top to hold it closed.
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