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paul wheaton
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In my ongoing series of evil experiments, I now wish to make felt. 

I have acquired, through devious means, a paper sack full of wool. 

What little I know so far is that if you heat the wool it will open up a whole bunch of tiny velcro like things.  So if the velcro things are open and you rub it against itself, there gets to be lots of velcro-like connections made.  Then, when it cools, the velcro like hooks close.

The trick is to get it to not end up as a great big ball, but, rather something useful.

I suppose for my first attempt, I should try something boring.    Maybe a pot holder?

My real mission is that I want to make something something that is a good inch thick to drape over my water kettle.    I would like to think that with that much insulation, I can cut the time in half that it takes to boil water.  And once the water is boiled, it might hold the heat for quite some time.

 
paul wheaton
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paul wheaton
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Jami McBride
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You are right about the -don't heat in a form you don't want- thing.

Carding is a big part of processing wool - is your wool already carded?

Carding straightens out and lines up your wool strands, as you peel the wool sections from your paddle you will want to lay these out in a thickness and pattern of your liking.  When you have the wool (a bit bigger than your final desire) layered put it in a bathtub or sink (for small projects) and pour hot water over it while press/rubbing it.  Use your feet in the bathtub to walk your wool into felt.  After about 5 minutes of this repeat using cold water, once it's felted hang to dry.

People even felt in washing machines, but I've not tried that yet.

A big money saving tip $ Use cheap large dog brushes as wool paddles, sure beats the price of the professional ones, and they work great.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Will wool stand the heat of your stove top?

Do you fry food often? Do you expect oil to splatter onto the felt? Might this create a fire hazard?

I might consider placing a large cooking pot over the kettle as it heats up.
 
paul wheaton
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Jami McBride wrote:
Carding is a big part of processing wool - is your wool already carded?



I dunno.  It is certainly fluffier than what comes on the critter. 

Since I want to make something so thick, maybe I get to take some shortcuts?

 
paul wheaton
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Will wool stand the heat of your stove top?


This is for a plug-in electric kettle.  The heating element is a sort of bulb in the middle.  So I think the hottest that the glass is gonna get is 212 degrees F. 

And wool supposedly has an ignition point of 1100 degrees - much higher than cotton's 600.  So even on the stovetop it should be fine - although I think something on the stovetop would benefit from something a bit more.

 
Jami McBride
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paul wheaton wrote:
I dunno.  It is certainly fluffier than what comes on the critter. 

Since I want to make something so thick, maybe I get to take some shortcuts?


Wonderful..... Let me know how that works out for ya
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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paul wheaton wrote:
This is for a plug-in electric kettle. 


Oh!  Perfect!
 
solomon martin
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You have struck upon one of my favorite subjects Paul!

Felt is great, a renewable resource material that is durable, has many uses and is easy to make.

The first thing to determine is what purpose the felt will have, a scarf or a hat will use different hair than roof insulation.  Sounds like you might be steering towards heavy duty so sheeps wool is a good start.  Thickness and uniformity of your end product comes from good carding and laying successive layers crosswise to each other.  The density and stiffness of felt is a product of layers, agitation time and psi applied.  It can be molded when wet and will retain its shape after it dries, making it ideal for your tea-pot cozy idea.

I have thought at some length about making felt.  An industrial felting machine costs like $10k and is kind of a big deal.  I have been thinking of ways to incorporate the felt making process into other activities.  One that comes immediately is to borrow a page from the mongols and devise an agitation device that you tow behind your vehicle.  Another cool idea I had was to make a contraption/steam generator that would process the felt while turning a drive wheel that simultaneously carded the wool.  Another really cool possibility for making felt is all the hot grey-water you produce.  This could be used for radiant heating, greenhouse irrigation etc.  I can imagine a small scale factory/farm that uses a biodynamic/thermodynamic feed-back system such as this, where you capture as much waste energy from a manufacturing process as you can to help produce your raw material.
 
Larisa Walk
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I probably wouldn't use felt for a potholder as I think the wool would scorch well below its ignition point.  It does work well for a tea cosy though.  How about making felt boot liners?  You can hand felt them a bit to stabilize the shape, then slip them into your boots and let your sweaty feet do the rest of the work while walking.

The dog comb/fur rakes do work well for "carding" wool.  I've done whole fleeces that way for spinning.  Not as fast as other equipment, but you can't beat the cost, especially for small projects.
 
Maggie Oliver
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As someone who felts for crafting and such there are several methods to making felt. Needle felting is a favorite of mine... though you do need a felting needle they are available at most craft stores. Wet felting has two or three different ways to do it. (easiest way to learn is to search How to wet felt on YouTube.com.) as there are many tutorials. A great project to share with kids is how to felt a rock!
 
T. Joy
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Here is a tutorial for wet felting a rounded vessel, incredible pictures.

http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=88150.0
 
T. Joy
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How's the felting project going?

I have seen several people who felt around a bar of soap... that way the soap has more of an abrasive quality. The felt "shrinks" along with the soap bar. I first came across it when some crafters were selling felted soaps.

http://innerearthsoaps.blogspot.com/2010/07/felted-soap.html
 
Alison Thomas
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I smiled when I read this thread.  I made felt for the first time at a Permaculture Festval in Belgium last Autumn.  I thought my arms were going to drop off, such was the amount of agitation required.  MUCH harder work than I'd anticipated but worth it in the end. So taken was I with the process that I'm now searching for a reasonably priced manual drum carder.
 
T. Joy
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You might like this project, a wet felted birdhouse pod. Very neat.

http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=376501.msg4441913#msg4441913
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks for that link, crafty!  I'll be shearing my sheep soon and need something to try with the wool.  Also need some bird houses! 
 
T. Joy
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Sheering your sheep soon? Oh my word, I am so jealous...

I've been wanting to make a natural mattress and what thinking about a big felted pad but that would require lots of wool to experiment with first and then to make the final project. How much wool do you think I'd need for a double mattress? And am I crazy to even think of this?
 
Tyler Ludens
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That sounds like an incredibly ambitious project.   I think it would take a lot of wool, many pounds.

I can send you some washed wool to play with, if you'd like. 
 
Jami McBride
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A wool mattress sounds wonderful.  Do you have the plans for how you'll make it, or are you going to wing it?
I love the idea of mattress alternatives, as I really hate the stuff the store mattresses are made of.

If you contact a local fiber guild you may be able to buy bags of wool cheap.  Also I've gotten free wool from my local organic (meat) sheep producer, as the wool wasn't clothing/yarn quality, but that shouldn't matter for practical uses such as mattresses and rugs...right?
 
T. Joy
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I'm consulting with a felt-happy friend about this mattress idea of mine. I'd love a natural mattress like that, I'd just love it. Ludi, would you consider a craft swap via Craftster? I'd like to make some bowls or bird pods . I'm still mid-way through my massive sorting and destashing effort but I should be caught up by next month. Holy Maude, I certainly hope so anyhow!

This is unrelated to felt but here is some info on making your own natural organic latex mattress.
http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2011/03/22/make-your-own-natural-organic-latex-mattress/
 
Tyler Ludens
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craftylittlemonkey wrote:
Ludi, would you consider a craft swap via Craftster?


Absolutely! 
 
            
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I have not done any felting,but I have watch people at the Rabbit Stick gathering do it,most use soap and water to hold the wool together,but one gal I know only used water with the wool to make a blanket
 
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