Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hats, hats...

This is how it always goes with me... I start something I haven't done in a while and then I can't stop! In this case it's really okay (except it is a diversion from my fleece-sorting), as "IT" is felting and I am actually getting a lot done and having fun in the process! It's rare to have much free time in the summer, but the kids are both happily preoccupied with friends and such today and I'm doing my own thing here at the barn.

It's probably been at least 2 years since I've felted a hat, and last night I had the bug and produced this funky thing:
Not my style or colors at all, but as I always have found with hats that I sell, just the right person will try it on one day when I'm set up at a festival or such, and it will be absolutely perfect for them! I've had it happen time and again, no matter how unique the color or style. Just stick around here long enough and I'll show you a picture of that person and that hat!

I have some beautiful brown alpaca batting that I hate to say the moths had gotten to and I really didn't want to pitch it. I picked out the mothy areas and layered it a little heavier than usual, then added some hand-dyed roving to complement it. Here's how it looked when I had about 5 layers stacked and embellished.
(Okay, now I understand completely why so many blog photos have cats in them! This darling, "Jello", was recently adopted from the Woodford Humane Society). She's a natural ham and likes to be in the middle of everything!)

Without getting into a detailed tutorial (you'll find a really good one on the Hat Shapers site), here are some steps in the process:
The fiber has been wetted down with hot soapy water and lightly smoothed by hand.
After the fibers are felting from my increasing elbow grease, I add additional pressure with a bamboo mat and/or bubble wrap and use an electric sander (be sure to use all precautions, especially a ground fault outlet! Read up on all safety issues).
The felt, which I have "worked" on both sides, is laid over the hard plastic hat form or "hat shaper."
I work on shaping the hat to the countour of the mold by hand and gradually get into the creases with the sander.
Here it has been trimmed and is awaiting additional decoration. (See the finished product at the top of the page!) I like to let it dry on the shaper.

I loved how the colors blended but this "Bell Cloche" mold isn't my favorite, either. Hat Shapers, does have a great variety and some excellent tutorials on their website.
By the way, there is absolutely no sign of the moth damage in the finished hat- the felt is smooth and clean. Drying the hat in the sun should kill any possible lingering moth eggs.

Time to get back to that fleece sorting, then get ready for a hot date with my sweetie tonight! (Yes, I do mean my husband)
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