Every month the North Georgia Street Team issues a challenge to its members based on a theme. The theme for June was “fireworks,” and the results of our efforts are now posted on the NorGA Blog. When you vote for your favorite, you are entered into a giveaway to win one of two grab bags of goodies made by our team.
I entered one of my hats and I’d like to tell you to vote for it, but in all honesty I’ve been blown away by the entry from NorGA member Sharon of Seedlings: Jewelry Because. Don’t get me wrong–all the entries are fabulous and I almost feel bad singling one person out for praise. The reason I’m so wowed by Sharon’s entry is not because her item is more amazing than any of the others, but because she went out on a limb and did something very different from her usual work. Sharon specializes in elegant jewelry inspired by nature, and while her entry for the June them is definitely jewelry, it is also clearly different from her usual style. For June, Sharon made the Steampunk Fireworks Machine Pretty Lady Set, topped by this amazing tiara:
You can read about her design process on her blog.
All of these is a long way around to say that Sharon has really inspired me to go beyond my usual crafting style for the July monthly challenge. For July, we are all making things that can be described as “aquatic.” The easy thing for me to do would be to make a blue beret or sunhat or pillbox turban and call it a day. But I am not going to take the easy way out this month!
I’ve been wanting to learn how to make felt hats for a while now, and recently got the basic supplies from yarn2spin. My plan for the challenge is to make a wet-felted blue hat decorated with needlefelted fish, and maybe some seaweed, and possibly top it off with a blue starfish I bought at a craft show. Sharon is great at detailed plans–I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants crafter.
So, this weekend I decided to make a practice felt hat. First, I wrapped the blue wool batt around the hat form and tacked it in place with a felting needle:
It looks like a blue cloud at this point. You can also see the non-pointy end of the felting needle sticking out of the top. A note about felting needles–they are really sharp, and barbed. In the process of tacking this wool down I stuck the needle straight through the tip of my finger at out the other side! Theresa from yarn2spin warned me–she too has stabbed straight through her fingers–but I apparently had to learn for myself. Fortunately, no permanant damage has been done and after yelping like a banshee I went back to stabbing the hat.
Once the wool was tacked in place I proceeded to wet felt it. “Welt felting” is a process in which you soak the wool in hot water, liberally spread dish soap on it, and then proceed to rub it vigorously for an hour or so. I don’t have any pictures of this step because my hands were covered in soap and hot water. I figured going near my camera was a bad idea. Basically picture a muppet hair salon and you’ll get the idea.
Here is the hat that came out of all this:
It is uneven–parts of it are thicker than others, it is not as thoroughly felted as I would like, and there is a small hole in one side.
Clearly not a perfect specimen, but I’m pleased for my first try. I figure I will make a felted flower to cover the hole, and while it is clearly too sub-par for my Etsy shop, it will do for me to wear around town.