Monday, November 7, 2011

Pot Holders - the Simple, Fun, and Easy Way

Ever wanted a simple, easy way to get started with your own wool project?  Are you looking for something to make that doesn't require a lot of equipment or set-up?

Making your own pot holders is one of my favorite projects for time like this.  You'll love it.   So lets get started!

This is what we will get at the end....

You will need some carded wool.  It does not have to be the best wool and it can be either dyed or plain.  The wool does have to be carded so that the fibers are all going in one direction.  You are going to be placing your wool in a gallon sized bag, so when you lay out your wool, be sure to keep it to this general size.

Pull thin layers of your carded wool and place a very thin layer on your work surface with all the fibers going right to left until you have the shape of your square.  Next, you are going to place another very fine layer of wool but this time you are going to place the fibers so they go from the bottom of the square to the top.  You are crossing the fibers to form a locking matt.  You will continue to alternate layers until you have a square of fabric that is at least and inch thick.  

The real secret to good wet felting like this is using a lot of very thin layers.  If you go too thick with your layers, your project will get very bumpy.  Take your time and don't forget to alternate the direction of the fibers throughout your project.

Lots of thin layers at right angles to each other.

Once you are finished with the layering.  You should have a pile of fiber that looks something like this.  In felting, it is ok to have some grass left in.  It adds to the details.

Finished with layering

Carefully place your pile of fibers in your bag.  Be careful putting it in the bag, because you must maintain the pile of fiber in the same state that it was in while lying on the work surface.  If you wad it up, you will ruin the whole thing.

Carefully stuffed in the bag.

Once you have placed it in the bag, add hot soapy water.  Do not wad your fiber up.  You absolutely must keep it flat.

Hot water, flat bag, make sure not to wad it up!

Push from the front to the back of the fiber to get it all wet.  Remember, you must keep this flat and not wad it up or cause undue wrinkles.  When the fiber is totally soaked.  Push all the air and excess fluid out of the bag and seal the it.

Place your bag on a scrub board and go to town.  Be sure to rub in all four directions covering the whole square.  Then turn the bag over and do the other side.

You will know you are finished when you can't lift any of the wool layers away from each other.  You can check this by opening the bag and carefully pinching the top layer.  When it is all pretty well stuck together, you can take the wool out of the bag.  You will have a nice square that holds together.

Out of the bag, still wet.

In the sink, rinse the soap out of the square in very hot water.  Wring the water out of the fiber and quickly toss the fiber in a sink full of very cold water.  The square must still be hot when it hits the cold water, so have your cold water ready before you take the fiber out of the hot water.  This is called shocking the wool.  It causes the fiber to felt more.

Shocking the wool.  Remember:  hot wool, cold water.

Wring the water out of the fiber and shape it into a nice square shape.  Carefully pin your square into a delicate wash bag as shown below.  Toss into the washing machine and wash with a load of towels.  You need a hot wash with cold rinse.  After washing.  Take your fiber out of the bag, reshape and lay flat to dry.  Congratulations.  You have a felted potholder!

Note the pins holding everything in position.

To finish, place a grommet in the corner or you could sew a loop of ribbon.  Decorate your new work of art in any manner you choose.  I just needle felted some wool locks that reminded me of flames onto the pot holders below.  It's your blank canvas, be creative.

My needle felted flame theme.

This is a quick and easy project that is great for getting the kids involved too.  Have fun with this!