Save That Wool!

I love wool socks. Or, rather, I love the *idea* of wool socks. You know: hot chocolate with those little bitty marshmallows, a crackling fire, hand-knitted wool socks. What could be cozier, right? Well, OK: I like coffee rather than hot chocolate, I hate marshmallows, burning wood makes me sneeze, and wool makes me itch just like I’d run nekkid through poison ivy, not that I would ever do that because once you’ve had poison ivy as a kid and have spent a week of your life covered in calamine lotion, you’d never go near the stuff, not even fully clothed.


But you get the idea: for some of us, wool is more lovely in theory than it is in real life. Even so, we can’t resist a pair of socks or gloves, a cute little jacket from the thrift store, a bundle of wool felt from a vendor at the quilt show. When I discovered years ago that you could make your own felt from discarded wool garments, I went a little crazy. $2 jackets in 100% wool were irresistible, and soon I had a bin full of odd felted scraps. Some were fabulous, but others didn’t felt up quite like I’d hoped, and then there were the ones I did right at the beginning before I knew to remove the interfacing before I fulled the garment in the washing machine. Bleah. Still, I didn’t want to throw any of it away. Did you know it takes a years for a wool sock to decompose in the landfill?  Not nearly as long as styrofoam, but why would you want to go there, right?


I decided to make something—nothing in particular, but *something*—to learn what felt would do. How would it be to stitch by hand? (Fabulous) How flexible? (Very) How durable?  (Great, except for the—ahem—bugs) I didn’t sketch or use a pattern or do any planning: I just pulled out pieces of felted/fulled wool and starting cutting and stitching them together. This is what I ended up with:

Freeman-Zachery wool 1

I love this guy! Parts of him are needle-felted (his eyeballs, the underside of his ears). I set myself some challenges: the eyes, the red-lined nose, the inside of the mouth (I have no experience in doll making or needle-sculpting, so making something with an interior part was a challenge, indeed). My favorite part is the teeth, which are cut and sewn and look surprisingly convincing. For, you know, wool teeth.


I loved the entire adventure, and I still have this little guy sitting in the office. The only downside to the whole experience was the moths. Since we’d never had wool in the house, I had no concept of moths, and before I knew it, he was full of tiny little holes. I popped him in a big plastic zippered bag and stuck him out in the deepfreeze for a couple of years (it didn’t need to be that long, but I admit I kind of forgot he was out there). Perfect. He’s moth-free once again, albeit a little hole-y.

Freeman-Zachery wool 2


Z2888 CraftCycle CM1.inddFor more ideas about reusing and recyling materials you’ve already got, check out Craftcycle by Heidi Boyd.






Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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