Little Bo Peep washed her sheep,
They got so grey and greasy.
But after a wash in a soapy tub
They came out white and fleecy!
– Nonsense Nursery Rhymes by Richard Edwards – A fun book of new twists on traditional nursery rhymes.
This summer I discovered felting with fleece and soap or rocks, plus anything else you can think of, it’s a perfect activity for young and old alike. All you need to start is carded fleece, which you can find at any good specialty yarn shop, such as Purple Purl (Queen Street East), Lettuce Knit (Kensington Market) or Romni Wools (Queen Street West). The fleece is available in natural greys and whites and even brightly dyed colours. You can even try dying your own using packets of koolaid. Once you have acquired the fleece, that’s the hardest part. All you need is something you would like to felt – soap or rocks are good places to start.
Purchase a bar of soap and using a grater shave it to resemble a rock. Layer thin pieces of fleece gently around the soap. When all is covered immerse the covered bar in the hottest water you can stand without burning yourself (best to not let little ones do this part). After the fleece is saturated start gently squeezing and turning in your hands; you can even pass the felted soap back and forth to your child taking turns. This part is perfect for little guys and you will see a nice lather worked up…clean hands! Repeat the procedure a few times until the wool feels fairly matted around the soap. The wool fibres open and lock down when handled, thereby creating the felt. When you think it’s felted enough, allow to dry. The felted soap is great for washing hands and pots.
Repeat the same procedure using a nice round beach stone. Add a little squirt of dish soap into the hot water so a lather is built up when you pass the rock back and forth. Use natural colours, grey with a thin stripe of white running through your rock, or make a collection of rainbow- or fall-coloured rocks. These make great paper weights and again little ones can have as much fun making these felted rocks as older children. Be careful though, you may find all kinds of things around the house being felted. Felted eggs?
If you are not sure and want to see the felting process, you can find felted soap and rocks on YouTube (some demos are better than others).
Don’t be afraid to experiment, let young children handle the wool freely and you will find yourself with lots of colourful felted lumps that can then be used for gluing and decorating other projects.
Baa baa white sheep have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three needlefuls.
One to knit a jumper, one to knit a frock
And one for the girl with the hole in her sock!