Last year we had a workshop that didn’t happen because the tutor was ill, and so we quickly substituted a show and tell session. One of our members, Mary, brought along some felted booties which were so sweet that we demanded a workshop.
And so we gathered last Thursday, having been fully briefed with everything we needed to bring: templates, roving, bits and pieces for decoration, bubble wrap, netting, old milk bottles, plastic bags (or latex gloves) and pieces of insulation or rolling pins – and the rest.
You have to think in reverse with these, starting by building the design or ornamentation which is going to appear on the outside, and remembering to keep enough back for the reverse. Then you lie some roving on top and build up a layer,
then repeat it in the opposite direction, and you have to make sure you do the toes especially well. And then the felting process begins, and continues through the building up of layers all around the template.
Then (this is simplified somewhat!), when you are satisfied about the felting and have done a pinch test to make sure, comes a scary stage: cutting the booties into two and removing the template. What you see here is the inside of the booties,
and what you see here, after the magical moment of turning them inside out,
is the outside – a real ‘wow!’ moment.
The separated booties are formed into shape – as above – and a slit is made in the front so they can be put on small feet comfortably. Then there’s more felting to set the shape and reduce them in size a bit more (something which needs to be borne in mind when drawing the template, of course). Here you have to be careful you don’t felt them so much that the two sides stick together – we kept checking and putting our hands in to tease them apart if necessary – but if they’re felted enough before they’re removed from the template this shouldn’t be a problem. And you also have to watch the seams.
We ended up with a lovely selection of booties in all sorts of colours, with all sorts of decoration and all sorts of contrasting linings:
They still needed to be stuffed with newspaper and dried off at home before being finished off with whatever fastenings we liked (fine leather could always be sewn delicately onto the soles, too).
To end, here are another pair of Mary’s booties which inspired our workshop, showing one type of finishing:
Can we make them in adult sizes next? All in all, a really successful day – and thank you, Mary!