No special tools, equipment or ‘skills’ required! Just two hands, a dish pan (or clean unused kitty litter box), soap and water and wool roving!
Begin by layering wool roving; I always begin with 3-layers, minimally! Tear off some wool roving the approx size of your desired finished piece. Reminder: allow about 30% shrinkage after felting/fulling!
Arrange the first layer neatly and uniformly (no holes/thin spots) in a east-west direction…in the dish pan. Create a second layer of wool going 90 degrees/perpendicular or in a north-south direction. Add a third layer, east-west. NOTE: Additional layers adds more density/thickness to your finished piece.
Now comes the fun part ~ make a sheep! Add contrasting wool staples. I like to use something with lots of natural crimp like Romney, Borderleicester, Lincoln, etc. Place wool staples in a random fashion over the top layer…keep in mind the silhouette of a sheep. Add a bit of contrasting wool for a face, perhaps an ear, legs and tail? Remember, no two sheep look alike!
Once you have created a sheep to your satisfaction…now comes the felting. Make a pitcher of HOT tap water with a squirt of Dawn dish soap added. Gently pour a slow stream onto your wooly sheep, careful not to mess-up your sheep design. Pat gently, only adding enough water to wet the entire piece!
With your palms and fingertips, gently ‘moosh’ and rub the surface. If this is too scary, some beginners, like to place their piece between an old cotton sheet with a few long stitches to hold/keep everything in place. Do what’s comfortable for you. Be gentle, and take your time. Keep agitating, rubbing gently in ALL directions. NOTE: Felting, that is, entangling the fiber to create a fabric… will occur in the direction you are ‘rubbing’. Drain off the cool water and add more hot water. Rub, rub, rub.
Once the piece begins to felt, you can place your project on a bamboo place mat, roll it up and ‘knead’ it to felt and – full – the wool. Make sure you change directions often, give the piece a quarter turn each time!
Finally, pinch the piece in the center; if none of the layers separate, you can rinse in cool water, blot, block (if necessary) and place over the floor heat vent to air-dry.
Now you have a nicely felted sheepy to use as a decorative trivet, mug rug, stitch into a sachet, small pillow…or make an entire flock!
Black sheep…no two are alike.
Never too many sheepies!