Sunday, December 18, 2016

Making felted soap & wool dryer balls

How we love wool in this house!  This weekend we held a favourite workshop here - all about wet felting wool.  Participants made wool felted soaps and wool dryer balls, and we talked about all the ways that wet felted wool can be used - to make clothing (hats, slippers, jackets), three-dimensional items by felting over a form, artwork pieces, and even larger pieces like tents and yurts.  Traditionally the yurts in Mongolia are made of felted wool.  The fleece is made wet, then rolled into huge long tight rolls and pulled by horse rolling along the ground behind in order to felt!  Amazing!  Other large pieces can be wet felted by walking on the wet wool, which felts up a large mat in no time at all!  Felted wool is very dense and water-proof, wind-tight, warm and durable, which is why it's so versatile for all these types of uses.

In our workshop participants learned the basics of wet felting while working on small projects, but this technique can be applied in many other ways.

Why make felted soap?
It is a great way to use of small ends and pieces of soap (for soap makers this is a perfect recycling project as we always have small pieces and odd-cut bars lying around); and felted soap is like a wash cloth and soap all in one; plus teh wool felting helps make soap bar more long lasting as you use it - these felted soap bars seem to go on for ever!

How to felt soap:
1) take small bar of soap, wrap in your choice of wool roving (best done in thin layers, to fully cover the soap bar)
2) wrap soap and roving in a piece of cotton jersey cloth (stretchy cloth) and secure with rubber bands
3) dip this soap "package" into hot water that has dish soap added, let it get fully wet and soapy
4) rub soap bar on a piece of bubble wrap or a sushi mat or anything else abrasive, and continue to scrub for about 5-15 minutes (dipping soap bar into hot water occasionally)
5) unwrap soap, check if wool is felting, add more wool or continue to felt it until you are happy
6) let soap dry for 24-48 hours, wool will continue to tighten and shrink around the bar as it dries

Why make felted wool dryer balls?
Wool dryer balls are so simple to make, and if used in the dryer can save energy by cutting down on drying time (they absorb water from your wet clothes) and eliminate static naturally.  For those who use a clothesline and don't need dryer balls, these balls can also be used as cat toys (add a little bell in the middle before felting), or as soft natural toys for babies and toddlers, or juggling balls for older kids, etc.  

Wool dryer balls are great recycling projects too.  Use scraps of old wool sweaters, scraps of 100% wool yarn, and odd bits of wool roving, and you are done!

How to make your own wool dryer balls / wool ball toys:
1) Layer one: Roll yarn or wool sweater bits (100% wool only) into a small ball.
2) Layer two: Secure with more wool yarn and keep wrapping in a ball shape. 
3) Layer three: Add colourful wool roving over top layer.  Make the rolled up wool ball slightly larger than you want your finished felted ball to be, as felting will shrink the ball.
4) Secure this ball in an old nylon stocking, tie up the nylon tightly around the ball, and then make your next wool ball until the entire nylon is full. 
5) Throw your nylon "string" of wool balls into your washing machine with a load of towels and wash on hot at least twice.  Balls will felt perfectly every time!  Let dry well between uses.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Handmade holiday sale - snowy festive night!

What a beautiful festive night, with our first real snowfall making it all feel so wintery and magical.  Thanks to all of you who dropped by our sale, and the talented artisans who provided such lovely thoughtfully handmade goods to purchase and who braved the cold weather at our outdoor sale!  We wish you all a warm and happy December!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Outdoor baking day to celebrate the first days of winter

We love using our wood-fired cob oven in all seasons, but there is something so especially cozy about firing up the oven for baking bread on a cold morning.   December is here, and the winds are chilly!  We celebrated the first bits of snowfall with warm flatbreads (these were hearty gluten-free flaxseed pitas) fresh from the oven, and then baked pears in the left over heat after the bread was done (my daughter's idea!). 

Come check out our wood-fired oven on Sat Dec 10 during our Little Bird Told Me handmade holiday sale.  The fire will be lit so you can warm yourself after browsing our wonderful vendors.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Waldorf-inspired art with kids: working with clay!

I think this class was the highlight in our kids art series so far!  Who does not love getting their hands into cool damp clay?   We printed leaf patterns from leaves we had collected outdoors, and shaped the clay into pinch pots, beads and other shapes - the kids let their imaginations run wild.  We used air dry clay, which is a little bit more fragile when dried, but it is so easy to work with that it makes a quick satisfying project for little hands.  They could choose to paint it later at home.

The older group of our kids also worked with wooden stamps to print beautiful patterns for necklace pendants or ornaments.  They could have easily spent several hours working on their projects!  Seeing the enthusiasm from all the kids, we will include clay work in our next round of art classes for sure.

New classes start January 15, 2017 - and registration is available here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

DIY Wool Balls

So simple!  Wool dryer balls made from scraps of upcycled wool sweaters, wool ends of yarn, and wool roving.  They can be used as dryer balls to cut down on drying time and save energy; or as cat toys (add a little catnip or a small bell inside before felting); or dog toys; or soft playtoys for toddlers to toss and catch.

How to make wool felted balls:
1) Make a small bundle of 100% woolen sweater scraps.  These can be off-cuts from any larger felting project you've used your sweaters for.  Any colour will be fine as you won't see this inner core once the ball is finished.

2) Wind 100% wool yarn around the woolen sweater scraps tightly.  Wind into a small ball, several inches in diametre (completely cover up the woolen sweater scraps with your yarn windings). 

3) Then wind layers of wool roving in colours you like (these will be visible) around the yarn ball.  The thinner the layers the better.

4) Stuff you wool ball into an old nylon stocking and tie up tightly to secure.

5) Repeat with as many balls as you like, to fill up the whole nylon.

6) Wash on hot, 2-3 full cycles in a load with towels.  Wool will be tightly felted once you are done!  Remove from the nylon, let balls dry.  Then use!

For dryer use, they can be sprinkled with a bit of pure lavender essential oil (or other scent) optional.  Use 2-12 per load (more balls decreases drying time). 

We LOVE these balls to toss around with our toddler, and for our cat to play with. They make lovely gifts, simple and recycled, and useful too.