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:
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.
For more ideas about reusing and recyling materials you’ve already got, check out Craftcycle by Heidi Boyd.
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