Ah, felted (secondhand!) wool. I know nothing about crafts this-and-that and think people who sew those stuffed fabric owl door stoppers are geniuses. I never knew of this felted wool stuff. Actually, I knew about felting but in my case it was more of an accident with woolens in the washing machine. I just didn’t know there was a name for it. Or that people do it on purpose.
Savers had a half price sale on clothing a while back, so I picked up a few old pure wool jumpers (sweaters) to make some felted wool. The jumpers weren’t in great condition and were quite cheap. I only buy wool in op shops or secondhand, never new. I followed advice from a few felt-your-wool websites. Step 1 was to put the wool garments in an old pillow case along with an old towel (for agitation), then tie up the pillowcase and throw it in to a hot wash with your regular washing. The pillowcase is to stop the wool fibre bits from getting on your other washing and clogging up your machine:
My Step 1 disaster: my old pillowcase was certainly old. Old enough for the jumper to dig a hole and escape:
My second Step 1 disaster: NOBODY SAID YOUR OTHER WASHING WOULD STINK OF WET DOG. ‘They’ said the pillowcase could go in the wash with your other items. I had to wash that load all over again, then hang it outside overnight to get the smell out.
I put the pillowcase, with the big hole secured, in to the dryer on the hottest setting. I didn’t let it dry completely, instead I took it out and spread the jumpers out to finish drying flat. I read on one site that this helps you get a flatter finish. I have no idea. They did shrink considerably.
Other sites said that if you can still see the stitching being a bit stretchy, you should run it through the washing machine and dryer again. So I did it a second time but this time with a better pillowcase, and I added a bit of washing powder (some sites use the powder in the pillowcase, others don’t):
Okay, that’s the prep work out the way. Wool garments with smaller stitching are apparently better than the sorts of jumpers I bought.
I decided to make some stuffed hearts from the felted wool. I love autumn so the hearts seemed fitting! I used tapestry thread to stitch around the edges:
I recently bought some fabric squares from Spotlight that were something like three for the price of two. I went straight for the autumn colours:
With this autumn fabric I made smaller stuffed hearts, this time with a sewing machine, right sides together then turned out and stuffed– the wool hearts were a bit too thick for this. Because I am such a hack with this stuff, I didn’t realise that when I stitched up the holes, the shape of the heart top would change to look like a chunk had been cut off. I sewed a ribbon loop on to the wool hearts and added a button (taken from one of the woolen garments) at the front for extra cuteness. I sewed the heart buttons on the fabric hearts before realising I’d forgotten to attach the ribbon loop. So I just got some tapestry thread and threaded the fabric hearts on to it. If you don’t get too close, it looks fine:
I also made some tealight candle holders. I had three old glasses and decided to glue twigs around them. This involved gathering lots of twigs, cutting them to size with pruning shears and hot gluing them all around. ZOMG you guys, hot glue guns are the BOMB. Seriously, it’s like the less daggy version of the Bedazzler. Anyway, due to my extreme impatience and superhuman ability to get bored really fast, I stopped at one twig-covered glass and decorated the other two glasses differently with, shall we say, the goal of not spending more than five minutes on them:
Back to more felted wool. I bought a bunch of 2cm and 1cm felted wool balls secondhand on eBay. I had a collection of acorn caps from our local park, though finding the teeny caps (on the ground of course!) was a little challenging. I had to roll the larger sized wool balls hard to make them oval shaped and make a better fit for the caps. The little 1cm felt balls were a great size for the small acorn caps. Then I grabbed some fallen branches from our garden, unholstered my hot glue gun and went to town:
I stuck the branches in a jug. Leave a comment if you know where this jug comes from, they seem to be everywhere:
I picked some vines off our tree, tied them in a wreath shape and hung them on the front door then promptly took a photo. Except now, days later, they’re all limp and embarrassed looking:
I looked up how to decorate with leaves but not have them go all dry and stuff. I marvelled at web pages where people dipped leaves in wax then used them to decorate. Genius! I bought a soy wax that I thought gave off the impression that it would dry clear with no milkiness (I didn’t want beeswax). I melted the soy wax in an old pan over simmering water, dipped some grapevine leaves in the wax and let them dry on a sheet of baking paper. I was most annoyed to see they dried with white blobs of wax everywhere. Oh well, live and learn. Hopefully people won’t see the white bits unless they’re right up close…
Autumn is also a time for those cold weather comfort foods. I made the Pumpkin Pie Bites from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. The filling was great and I’d use it as a pie filling, but the base got way overcooked (the filling was not cooking in synch with the base so I had to leave it in the oven) and was very dry as a result. I wouldn’t blame the recipe, because the substitute gluten free flour I used was buckwheat (with more liquid added). Perhaps I didn’t add enough liquid because it was still dry over the next couple of days. I’d make this again though:
I cook up a big batch of pumpkin and add it to Arthur’s smoothies along with spinach, broccoli and banana. He won’t eat veggies so I stick them in his smoothies. I also leave enough to add to my own meals. Here I used some pumpkin in place of noodles with a lemongrass-garlic-ginger-chilli tofu dish I made:
I really love the idea of decorating my home according to the seasons. I drool over North American blogs, where people decorate for autumn with all those gorgeous colours. The problem is I have zero skill or patience for it. But I WANT IT. I even want all that white Christmas stuff in winter. I tell myself who says Christmas has to be in stinky-hot December?
Okay, I’m off to look up more autumny recipes. I can’t think of anything my family would eat apart from sweet stuff like pumpkin pie. I’m loving the look of these sweet potato and kale balls. They might do the trick!
… aaaaaand I just noticed that in the photo below, I forgot to hang up one of the wool hearts. Not only that, but the whole thing fell down right after I took the photo. And you can see the milky-dried wax from a distance. And I should consider using a tripod.
As mentioned, all wool used here is secondhand. I don’t buy new wool and when looking for things I can use in crafts, I prefer stuff that can be upcycled or re-used somehow.