|Purse on left is second effort; purse on right is first.|
I took a sleeveless top from my closet and measured it. These projects shrink about 40 - 50% from the inital size of the design. So I added 40% to the length and width and to the armhole openings. I was so focused on the construction that once I placed the silk around the resist (a big piece of bubble wrap cut to size), I realized I had no design in mind. I rummaged through my wool and finally decided on a pattern of purples framed in black sort of like stained glass.
Laying out the wool for the back side came first. I added yarns and wisps of silk hankie to offset the solid sections of wool colors. I have long learned that, once felted, mulitple colors can still look flat. Then I did a little wetting down and brief felting, so I could flip it and lay out the front of the vest. At this point I didn't know if it would remain whole and become a top, or if I would cut it and make it a vest.
I rolled it all up and rolled and rolled and rolled (periodically re-wetting it down and rolling from the other direction). Several hours later, I removed the resist and began fulling it. The rolling allows the wool fibers to migrate into each other forming a solid piece of fabric. The fulling is how it shrinks and becomes felt. I rubbed the entire vest by hand against a textured board (think washboard) until it no longer stretched anywhere. It quickly became clear that I should have used a 50% increase in size, but I was still hopeful it might fit a small adult. Fulling took a long time, rubbing in different directions to control the shape. But finally it was done. I hung it up to dry last night and took some entertaining self-portraits so I could display the finished product. Yes, it fits me, but barely. My nine-year-old wants it.