Sunday, March 11, 2012

Felting soap and sorting laundry

Yesterday we felted soap.  I had this idea that we would (spoiler alert) give felted soap as  St. Patrick's day presents, along with some little seeds or something as an inspiration to get out in the garden.  In my mind this turns out lovely and we (somehow) make bright green shamrocks on white roving around the soap and maybe even have shamrock seeds.  Except they basically are an invasive weed around here, so it would have to be something else.  Details.

The thing is, I've never really felted anything before.  So we decided to start slow, with just seeing if we could actually get it to work at all.

And it pretty much did.  We followed the tutorial from here, a lovely place, by way of here, a place I am trying to remind myself to visit more often.

The basics.  Step 1: go to the yarn store and buy some wool roving.  We got lots.  We're that way when we get into project mode.  Get some bars of soap.

Liam holds up the roving; bar of soap in background

Step 2: wrap the base color of roving tightly around the soap.  The tutorial has good instructions for this, you want it to be pretty tight and wrapped a few different ways around so you cover all the soap well.  Do this with some of the roving that didn't cost so much.  Use little bits of the expensive dyed roving to decorate the wrapped soap.  This wont really stick, but you can sort of mash it onto the top and sides where you want it to be.

Liam decorates the wrapped soap.  He liked this part.

Step 3: find some old stockings. (In my case some old off-white tights---unopened---in a size I have not seen since, oh, I don't know, probably 10 years?  Why do I have these things?  So I can felt soap on a whim, I guess.)  Cut up one of the legs and put your wrapped and "decorated" bar into it.  Peek in and move the decorations around if you want.  Tie a knot at both ends.  Now you are ready to felt.

Felting.  He did not like this part as much.
Step 4, the last step: to felt you put the soap in water about as hot as you can stand and suds it around to make it very soapy -- you want to really work this because you need to get hot water and soap all into every little wool fiber and mat them together.  This is a lot like shrinking your favorite sweater in the washer except you are both making the sweater and shrinking it all in one step.  Keep moving and sudsing, dipping in hot water often.  After Liam gave up on the process (approximately 1 minute into the felting part), I poured steaming hot water from the kettle over the soap.  I like to think this helped.  The tutorial says to work the soap 10-20 minutes.  I think for the first soaps we worked them at least 20 minutes (1 for Liam and 19 for me), and for the second more like 10 minutes (all me).  The 20 minute soaps definitely were better.  When you think it's done, untie the stockings, remove your soap, run it under VERY COLD water for a while to shrink it down even more, and then sort of wring out the excess and put it out to dry.  Ours needed a day and a half to be (mostly) dry.  Liam enjoyed checking the drying progress.  ("Mommy! The soap is still very wet!")

Finished soaps.

So, here's the thing.  It was fun and all, and it looks nice enough, but, well, I'm not sure I like felted soap.  We moved one of the bars up to the soap dish in the bathroom and I hoping it will be less messy that the gloppy icky soap that used to be there.  (Actually, it is that soap, we just felted it.)   Liam washed his hands with it tonight and was not sure.  I have one in the kitchen. We'll see. To make anything approaching a shamrock I'm sure I would have to needle felt it on, which seems possible, but, well, I don't know.  At any rate . . . much more than you ever wanted to know about felted soap.  If anyone is still reading and has an opinion on the pros or cons thereof, please weigh in.  In the meantime we have enough roving to make our own sheep and will have to be figuring out things to do with it.  This is not a bad problem to have.

After we felted soap we sorted laundry.  Sorting laundry is one of Liam's household jobs and he is SO PROUD when he finishes it.  I ask him to sort laundry by color.  The result is many little, tiny piles of laundry: one green, one gray, one red, one orange, etc..  Then we combine the piles as appropriate.  It is very sweet.

I would like to note that as you can see by the laundry my child really does not wear footed fleece PJs 24/7, it only seems that way in pictures taken mostly on Saturdays.  (Edited to say: these soap photos are supposed to have captions, but I can't seem to make them show up.  Or fix the spacing. Sigh.)


1 comment:

Sandrant said...

The felted soap looks cool, but I'm not sure I'd like furry soap!