Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Damson - Felted Merino Cross Hat with Crazy Felt Band

The right side was dragged up and curled and the front left was tipped forward. 

It was time to try something new. I had a huge template/resist that was given to me by Robert a felt artist from Brisbane during one of our "Felting Frivolities" camping retreats at the historical Jondaryan Woolshed.  Robert makes hats  and costumes that tend to be "out of the box" and I always look forward to seeing his creations at our 6 monthly camps.

Robert modelling his felted ladies hat and vest with style

Wearing one of Robert's out of the box creations with wild abandon
 I hadn't used his template before.....not being sure of how I could adapt the finished hat...fearing there would be just too much "stuff" on top..... until I saw Andrea Graham using the same template/resist on her blog just recently and decided to give it ago.  I had just bought some hand dyed Merino cross tops from Pat Miller's online store "Highland Felting" in Vic.

The Damson was a lovely blend of multiple colours and I decided to combine this with Wineberry.

I have used cross bred wool in the past ..usually washing and carding the fleeces myself  before making into a mat, or slippers.  When felted it was thick but very soft to the touch and felt like a folded blanket under my bare feet.  But I had not tried Pat's Merino Cross before.... it was coarser and felted very quickly, grabbing aggressively to the netting on top in the initial stages. 

Not much was needed to get a good felt thickness.  Two thin layers seemed to be the equivalent of  four fine pure merino layers that I use in most of my hats.  It was a pleasure to be able to make a hat so quickly...especially after the labour intensive cobweb scarves.  This wool will make a great tote bag....something I need as soon as possible. 

Note the size of the resist and the final size of the felted hat ready for blocking

My hat needed a band .....A band using felted merino and novelty yarns sewn in a crazy pattern could be fun.   Jeannette Knake in her book   Crazy Felt   uses water soluble stabiliser and spray fixative to hold her yarn and fabric pattern in place while it is free sewn.

Being an incurable  recycler I had to find something around the house that would serve the same purpose.  As the band for the hat was narrow I considered using toilet paper held in place with scraps of masking tape....(scraps of masking tape can be found all round my studio, stuck to my painting easle and on nearby cupboards ready to affix pastel papers to my sketching board when painting portraits.)  The toilet paper would eventually disintegrate during the final felting process....maybe.  I had used this before without felting and remember spending copious amounts of time picking little pieces of paper out of my work.

Crazy Felt hat band partially felted ready for sewing

I finally decided to try just a thin film of tops and scatter a yarn pattern over the surface....then felt it to a stage that I could do some free machining.  It worked very well and I had no trouble with stabilising the material.  I then put the band in a dish of very hot water and agitated and worked it until it was fulled.  The result was not unlike the yarn scarves that I have made. 

Now for a hat with some attitude! The hat crown was pushed down on the right side and the brim dragged up the same side and curled.  The left front was flipped forward to create that .....attitude.  The left side wore the knot of the band and draped down and around the neck.  The crazy felt band could also be doubled around the hat  and the ends pulled into a crazy felt flower.  It was a very comfortable hat to wear and it's personality could be easily changed by wearing it at different  angles.    Can't wait to try some more...perhaps with even more height to push into strange shapes.....great fun!

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