Last week, a couple of friends and I got together and played with wool roving. Since I had previously ‘experimented’ with braiding wool roving, I cheerfully volunteered to pass along my limited experience, tips…and all the roving required. By the end of our visit, we had successfully completed a “mug rug” and enough felted braid to stitch-up a few more!
I’ll recap the process for you! The story begins for me a couple of years ago when I attended the Fiber Arts Festival at Castle Farms, Charlevoix, MI. I met two wonderful fiber ladies, Letty Klein and Ann Brown. They had just published their book “The Shepherd’s Rug – A Braided Wool Rug from Roving”. I purchased an autographed copy and thought what a wonderful way to use lots of wool roving. You know, anyone with sheep soon accumulates quite the fiber stash!
Anyway, back to the process. In a nutshell, you begin with three strands of wool roving of varying lengths (to minimize tangling). Secure the ends with a rubber band and clamp the end to a table. Begin to braid the strands just as you would braid hair. They key is even tension! When your braid is the desired length for your project, secure the end with a rubber band. Coil the braid and place it in a zippered pillow case. Felt it in the washing machine using hot water, checking periodically, until the felting process is complete. Remove and rinse with cool water. Dry in the dryer. Once dry, you’re ready to begin the sewing process.
Once you’ve decided on a project (ie mug rug, chair pad, oval rug, etc), begin with a needle and linen thread. Secure the knot in the end and begin to coil the braid and stitch through one loop and then catch another on the other (opposite) side. Bury the knot when you’ve reached the desired size and tidy up the ends with a felting needle, if necessary.
I’ve provided a very cryptic explanation here, but if you’re interested in learning more, I suggest investing in a copy of Letty’s and Ann’s book!