Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I've just been taking a felting class at the New Britain Museum of American Art, in a sunny room with a panoramic view over Walnut Hill Park.  Every Sunday for four Sundays, teacher Robin McCahill toted bag after bag and box after box of felting supplies into our classroom and let us have at it.

Felting, by the way, is the process of making fabric from animal fibers such as wool.  Unlike woven or knitted fabric, felted fabric is matted together by hand, with the use of a lot of elbow grease.  The two types are wet felting and needle felting, each involving a different method.  I'm an almost-beginner, and I needed a lot of guidance, and Robin, the teacher, was wonderful, flitting back and forth between and among us as each of the eight students made her own unique project--felted landscapes, scarves, a rug, a bowl, even a glamorous puppet with high heels and false eyelashes.

I started with a wet felting project, creating new morning glories for a small wall quilt I'd made last summer.

The morning glories I originally created were okay, but wow, look at the felted ones!

I like the felted ones a lot better:  more interesting texture and three-dimensionality.

Above are the original morning glories.  Aren't the felted ones more interesting?

Next, I tried a felted landscape, based on this photo of the Farmington Valley, taken from a westward-facing ridge in Penwood State Park.  This is what I've made of it, so far:
It's not done yet.  I'm in the process of embellishing it with embroidery.  That blue fabric at the bottom and the top is the blue silk onto which I felted wool roving to create a landscape.

Next I felted some Jack O'Lantern mushrooms (omphalotus olearius) based on this photo, also taken at Penwood State Park:

Aren't they pretty?  Teacher Robin showed me how to card the wool roving to create their golds and yellows:

The carding process involved using these two big paddles with wire teeth.  They look something like dog brushes.  After the carding and the felting, I put my mushrooms-to-be over custard cups to form their concave shape:

They look like some kind of muffins, don't they?  I understand that if you eat one of these Jack-o'Lantern mushrooms, they won't kill you, they'll just make you wish you were dead.

Next I'm going to create a knitted backdrop for them, using a pattern called beaded rib, and Kathmandu yarn (merino, silk, and cashmere) to simulate a tree trunk.

I wasn't the only one who had fun in this class!

Here's Wanda Seldon using wool roving to create a scarf against a silk background.

Here's Carol Vinick creating a sunset view.

Here's Sandy Fromson creating a bowl, which she formed around a ball.

Here's what Sandy's bowl looked when she cut it in half.  How about those multicolored layers, and those fish swimming around in there!

Here's Nina creating a freeform nature form.  (Sorry, Nina, I can't remember what this is). Wet felting involves a lot of soap and water and elbow grease.

Here's Margaret Freedman's glamorous puppet.

 This puppet even has high heels!  The one on the right shows the pipe-cleaner understructure.

Here's our teacher, Robin, with a funky felt scarf she created a while back.

She's a great teacher!  Patience personified.


  1. I really like what you did with the morning glories...and what fun you all look like you were having!

    1. It was GREAT! So much so that I'm going to take another class with the same teacher on a series of Fridays in May in Cheshire.

  2. Oh man! I want to come play! You guys are having way too much fun without me!

  3. Can you make a class three Friday mornings in May in Cheshire?