Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lord of the Felt

I have a mountain of sweaters.
It all started one day at a yard sale...

A college girl was moving out of state to a warm one and was off-loading every sweater she owned for a quarter each. A quarter!  Dozens of them! And beautiful! All 100% wool. Some name brands, no hand knits, which for this day was a good thing and you’ll soon know why.

My first choice would have been to put them straight into my own closet, but given that my college girl "ship" had sailed they would not have fit me or the closet and they were styled for someone three to four decades younger than me.
What I really wanted them for was for my felting stash. This means mercilessly (but lovingly!) washing them in hot water, and drying them – ruining them actually. You know, on purpose...

So many projects could be had and by spending so little money,
 I thought, and ...I started to get that Gollum look in my eyes as I started scooping them up by the armful while looking out defensively for other shoppers.
When I had every single one, I headed to the card table checkout where the lovely, innocent looking college girl sat with her metal money box delighted to have made a big sale and even offered a bulk discount thinking that I must have a lovely daughter of my own who would know many future happy moments much like hers in these same sweaters. How could this get any better for either of us? Then I told her, with a tad too much gleam in my eye, that I would be cutting them all up for craft projects...Oops.  All at once her face fell like a cake at a jack hammer site. For one split second I thought she might take them from me and I sure as heck knew she regretted offering the discount.  In my best Schmiegle voice I reassured her that they would be transformed into lovely things with a long second lif.  It seemed to be just enough to quell her regret at handing over twhat were obviously old friends with happy memories to the off-her-rocker crafty woman.  And after a few quick seconds of contemplative reasoning in her own head, I, Crazy Mrs Gollum Big Sale won and the transaction was completed.  Either way I thought it best not to look back as I headed quickly for the car.
I began loading them into the back seat of my friend’s vehicle – I think I may have had 15 or 20 in my arms at once. My friend, now deaf by the way, from the scream I let out when spotting the yard sale sign half an hour ago, gave me that same look Mrs. Parker gave Ralphie’s father in “A Christmas Story” when the leg lamp was pulled from the crate. I ignored her in much the same way and nodded to myself as I acknowledged a short window of safety that was waiting back at my own house where I knew that I could quickly get the contraband into the basement before my loving, but head-shaking husband would get home from his own Saturday morning errands. Not sure Lucy could “esplain” this one to Ricky and neither could I.

I stashed them in a Space Bag in the basement (takes up much less space in a Space Bag - I'm just sayin is all - in case you, the mad shopper, happen to need enabling one day.) Then I spent the next several days scouring books, blogs, and magazines for felting ideas. And there were PA-LENTY!

But the story doesn’t end there.

Along comes half price day at Good Will. It's every Wednesday, and coincidentally (not) timed with my errands that happen to take me right past their parking lot. Driving by on my way to buy bird seed, my car took on a strange life of its own and I drove powerless into the parking lot – with one thing on my mind….PRECIOUS…more sweaters…
It was May and no one was buying sweaters. I made quick work of slicing my way through the racks feeling for 100% wool fiber (A knitter knows that feel without reading the tags.) I told myself I’d allow three to go into the cart. "They were half price," said Gollum. Okay five. "Some as low as 99 cents."  I came out with two Hefty bags trying to twist my justification into some distorted “good cause” scheme. Oh hell. It’ll be fine. Need more Space Bags though.

Fast Forward several months. Time to shelve all projects in order to move half way across the country.

Four HUGE wardrobe-sized boxes of 100% wool sweaters arrived in St. Louis on moving day last October. I anticipated their arrival like Carrie Bradshaw waiting for a Zappos order. I promised them their debut first thing in January, but had to keep them stashed until the holidays were done plowing through. Okay so now I’m talking to them?
Finally, they were broken out, run through the washer, dried with old jeans for extra bashing and shrunk to half their original size. It’s a cold winter and while it lasts I’ll be doing a lot of the woolly felted projects I’ve been dreaming about since that first fateful day at the yard sale. Many I’ll share with you.

Here’s one of them…

Start with two felted sleeves.  Make sure you can get the wrist over your wrist now that it has shrunk.  Note that you will be pulling on your mitt backwards with the finished edge at your wrist - or beyond depending on how far back you want it to go up your arm.  Cut edge goes across your knuckles. See next pic.

Next slice about a 1.5 inch cut into the side where your thumb will be. Note the seam area on the felted sleeve so you can position it comfortably or descreetly- your choice.   WAIT!  Before you cut, make sure you're cutting at the BASE of your thumb (try on and feel for it) and not the top or mid knuckle area. Mark it somehow, but only while not wearing the glove though.  No blood please.

Make its mate - exactly the opposite don't ya know...

Give them both a shave.  Be gentle.  Unless you prefer a fuzzier look.  It's all about you.

I like a blanket stitched edge.  Takes 5 minutes.  But this is optional too.
You could also embellish with beads, appliques, buttons, add a decorative vintagey pin, your choice.
 Go wild.

I think I'm in love!

And now for just a few more...
You thought I was kidding...


  1. Oh, I feel your pain! I too have boxes and boxes and boxes of sweaters. I MAKE myself toss the tiny scraps, because really, enough is enough and I don't have the storage space. Hmmm. But I DO have some Space Bags...
    Damn you woman!!!!

  2. Would like a pair. Please.

  3. I've done the same thing and love them. Warm, cushy and not too precious to wear. Great minds think alike!

  4. This reminds me that I've cut a pair but haven't done anything with them - I adore felt too, it's such a forgiving material!

  5. Kathleen, I am now up from the floor as I laughed so hard reading this story of your sweater collecting activities! It was all over after the Gollom pic holding that furry something. I have been there! And no matter what others may say, WE are not the crazy ones!...mwahaha!