Simply Felt: 20 Easy and Elegant Designs in Wool Paperback – Oct 28 2004
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Felt is a fun way to process sheep's wool, and it's growing in popularity. With a scrub board, soap and some fleece, you can create a finished project (garment, bag, vest, hat) in less time than it takes to spin and knit. Felt is an ancient art, predating woven fabrics, and still used today by many cultures for traditional garb; for example, the Siberian "valenki" are felt boots or liners that resist cold and snow better than leather. And many hats are traditionally made of felt on a block.
Speaking of hats, this book has a cloche hat I really liked. My favorite project, however, was a pillow of small squares sewn together with the seams out, for texture. If you make small pieces of felt and don't know what to do with the swatches, here's a great project for you.. There are bags, cache-pots, teapot warmers, slippers and a lot more. Many of the projects look a bit modernistic (abstract fiber imbedded to make a design) but you can use the methods to create your own design and go from there. I did not like some of the projects colorways or ornamentation, but every one gave me the thought "if I did THIS instead..." which is great; you don't need to copy these projects to use them. (I will say, however, that I adored the pillow colorway--pale blues, creams and grays, enough to make one of my own.) I figure, if you take these methods and employ your own tastes and ideas, you are sure to find some excellent projects to make here. This would also be ideal for a girl or boy scout troop badge project, a 4-H project (especially for a young person who raises sheep) or for your child or students, as felt is fairly amenable to children's abilities and interests.
In the section called Decorative Flat Felt, she suggests adding small amounts of wool to to a fabric base, such as chiffon, silk, cheesecloth, or voile to make "a marvelously light and airy but durable fabric, which is ideal for scarves." I love the idea of combining cheesecloth with felt. Very inexpensive and easy to try. She gives a lot of suggestions using silk fibers, many of which are gorgeous. I like the Silk Inlaid Lampshade (page 67) -- an idea which was completely new to me. The Inlaid Containers (shown on the cover) are brilliant -- so easy to do, so useful!
But my two favorite projects, by far, are the last two: Child's Silk-Lined Jacket (page 111) and the Pictoral Pillow (page 115). The jacket is drop-dead gorgeous and looks really fun to make, which is more important than being gorgeous because otherwise you won't bother to make it. The pillow section is full of good ideas and these projects are more about already having the skill to make the basic structure and letting your imagination run wild when it comes to the embellishments. I purchased several pieces of feltwork which I received and wasn't happy with -- they were too plain, really boring and uninspired and I was thinking, these need something and I can certainly try to add it but I don't know what to do. I was a little intimidated at the idea of completely redesigning them on my own. But I have the time and the determination and now I have some sample pictures and the directions I need -- and now I feel ready! There's plenty of time from now to Christmas to add more details, embroidery, and what-not. I'm very excited! Sometimes a little structure is more liberating than complete creative freedom. Even if I may not do any of the projects in the book exactly, I can feel my mind brimming with new ideas... which I wouldn't have come to without reading the book.
If you already know about felt and you're pretty comfortable with what you're doing, you don't need it... but if you're ready to move into doing more glamorous and artsy things with your felt projects, Simply Felt is a good buy.