Wet felting + Me = Fail

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but sometimes people say things to me like, “Wow, you are a natural at X” or “I can’t believe you’ve only done Y for such a short time”.  And I am amazing (ack, choking on my own ego here). But to be completely honest…my perceived skill might have more to do with good marketing and less to do with actual ability. Case in point: my wet felting adventures. 

That is the most adorablest baby bootie you have ever seen, admit it. It is felt, but I used dry felting techniques.

Wet felting is an ancient process, used for millenia to convert animal fiber into fabric. Water and detergent are applied to layers of hair and agitated to create friction. Microscopic scales on the hair catch on each other, and you end up with a flat matt of fabric. Yurts are made from thick yak felt. Dry felting, which uses barbed needles to accomplish the same matting of fiber but takes much longer, I have figured out. Look at that adorable baby bootie up there. Savor it for a minute. Ok, keep reading now.

It's a shoulder bag, can't you tell?

I just can’t figure this stupid wet felting thing out! The “shoulder bag” above is not even my first disastrous attempt. The fiber just comes apart in my hands, or matts in all the wrong places. *headdesk*

I’d like to wrap this up with something uplifting like, “If at first you don’t succeed etc etc” but, well, let’s keep the honesty rolling. I never did figure out how to wet felt, and my Aunt Geri took over those projects (her table runners apparently have herds of horses running across them) with my blessing.  My advice on projects you just can’t get, after multiple attempts, is this: If at first (and second, and third) you don’t succeed, put the failed project in a plastic sack in the back of your closet and find someone who can do it for you.

About cliffhousealpacas

Once upon a time, my dad drove by some funny looking animals standing on little dirt hills in a field. Thus, the dream of an alpaca ranch was born. Now, we are embarking on a grand adventure of raising alpacas and becoming fiber artists.
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10 Responses to Wet felting + Me = Fail

  1. ilashdesigns says:

    thanks for the link! I linked you back and look forward to following you along on your fiber journeys! On the felting – I had more success when I worked with fine wools – a high micron merino wet felts like a dream. Maybe you’ve tried that already, I don’t know cuz I’m such a newbie fan. Keep on keeping on! 🙂

    • Thank you for the link back! You spin the most beautiful thick-and-thin yarn! My goodness, it’s delicious handmade eye candy. I’m a newbie spinner, having just gotten from the “even and fairly fine” stage to wanting to play around with more art yarns. And dyeing is still super intimidating, so I haven’t even tried to dye our white alpaca fiber. Which, from looking at your wonderful roving, is a shame.

      I have a deep love for good merino wool, but whenever I get my hands on it, it ends up spun! Hmmm hmmm. We have a drum carder, so perhaps I could try blending my alpaca fiber with merino. Might be fun to spin as a blend too!

  2. I have recently attempted dry felting and really want to try wet felting. I think that I will start on something small and work my way up. I understand the project in the closet, I have a few. I think though it’s worth you trying again. Maybe someone reading can help.

    • ilashdesigns actually had a helpful tip that gets back to something that proves true time and time again: start with the right fiber. I should probably break down and make a blend that holds together better. That’s the part that always gets me, some areas seem to felt well, but they get seperated from each other during the process.

      A combination of the two seems to be working for me at the moment. I needle felt until I have something that feels like very fluffy felt, then I wet felt to get it denser and stronger. That might be a good way to start, and work up to just wet felting.

  3. ilashdesigns says:

    you are very welcome! I am enjoying your blog. You are much more skilled at this than I am! I now want a “subscribe to me” button on my blog page..but I bet that will take me forever! Thank you for your kind comments. I love your bootie (and would love some for ME!) LOVE needle felting, but I mostly don’t have/take the time. SOMEDAY I keep telling myself. The little bit of wet felting I have done has been with superfine merino and then I’ve laid other fibers in (like a sandwich) to hold in the not so easy to felt fibers and that works pretty well and pretty quickly. I did try some needle felting and ended up with a horse with a Donald Trump style hair doo…not exactly a marketable item, but fun just the same! I used the high micron merino for that too and it really likes the needle. It makes a nice compacted felt – great for toys and such. You might try Paradise Fibers for that type of merino. Take care! Thanks again! 🙂 Ny.

    • Thanks! I’ve had a number of day jobs, and most of them are very computer oriented, so I picked this blogging thing up pretty fast. Here’s how I got that email subscription “Sign Me Up!” button:

      1) I clicked on the “Dashboard” link so that all the options appeared on the left hand side of the screen. There are a ton of options!
      2) I clicked the “Appearance” heading.
      3) A new list of links appears under the Appearance heading when you click on it. One of them is “Widgets”. I clicked that one.
      4) There are a whole bunch of fun little automatic options in the middle of the screen. For the subscriptions one, I clicked the box with “Blog Subscriptions” in it and then dragged it over to the “Primary Widgets” area on the right side of the screen. That’s how I got the “tag cloud” too.

  4. ilashdesigns says:

    oh I love this..and get an e-mail when you post? I did some administrative computer work too and/but mostly worked with dedicated programs and would often teach others, so when I started this..I thought I “might could”..but lol…alas..it’s a great big struggle..and then the time it takes me is..well..I often remind other’s I am still in fb kindergarten too! LOL Thank you so much for sharing the instructions for this! I appreciate you! Have a great day! Kiss the livestock for me! 🙂 Ny.

  5. geri says:

    I just took a moment away from knitting, felting, pulling my hair out etc etc to visit the blog – LOVE what you have created here. Alas, the shoulder bag ……. I fear that I must have led you down that crooked path, but nothing tried is nothing gained, so 10 points for giving it a whorl (so to speak!) You and I are on opposing learning curves. I got out the needles (you serve as my inspiration here) and went to work – the herd of horses is in motion but I must admit that one of them came up lame and is falling behind in the chase…. Need I say more?!

    Love you and see you soon – cant wait to see all your beautiful creations!!
    Aunt Geri

    • Yay! The blog has been fun. But it’s easy to talk about cute animals.

      Actually, the shoulder bag was an attempt from yester-year. I just like to remind myself every now and then that my projects aren’t always spectacular.

      Can’t wait to see you! Love you, take care,

  6. Pingback: Retroactive post: Dye Fail | Cliff House Alpacas

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