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Monday, November 14, 2011

Vintage Wool Sweater Christmas Stockings

I have a new fellow dealer at Aubergine Emporium sharing a space with me.  She made these incredible wool Christmas stockings.  I immediately could tell they were made from vintage sweaters and I have never seen anything like them.  She explained they were vintage wool sweaters and she "felted the wool."  I had never heard of this, but I will explain how to do it.  I can't do a blow by blow picture tutorial the way I like to because it is done in the washing machine.  These are nothing like the felt stockings you make from felt from the craft store.  These are real wool and would certainly be stockings used year after year by the lucky recipient.  My girls still have the stockings their grandmother made for them as small children and will probably have them their whole lives.
 Debbie explained the process to me and I did a little research on the internet.  You could make winter pillows and other projects using this very same technique.  To "felt the wool" you will need a washing machine, Woolite, a vintage wool sweater and a clean towel.  You could probably do this with boiling water, but please be careful.  I don't want anyone to get burned.
 To turn a wool sweater into felt, it must be 100 percent wool.  No polyester blends here, only pure wool.  Anything not pure wool will not felt.  Also take out the stitching so you just have the wool garment itself.  The thread usually isn't wool and therefore won't felt either.  This can lead to mishaps and tearing.  The wool will shrink to approximately half the size so remember this when buying your sweaters.

Now that you have done the preliminary work, place your wool in the washing machine.  For me, I think I would put my wool pieces in a lingerie bag and zip it up.  That way they are not flinging all over the washer.  Set your washer setting to hot wash/cold rinse.  Add detergent and your wool and start the cycle.   You might want to practice a couple of times till you know how much the wool pieces shrink.  You can always do a different type of project with the pieces.  How about wool mitten Christmas ornaments or wool stocking Christmas ornaments to put on the tree?  Or I think they would make great stocking caps especially if you add some trims like Debbie did.  Just let your imagination run wild.

When the wash and rinse cycle is finished, remove felt from washer.  Place them on a flat clean towel to air dry.  Do not put them in the dryer as they will shrink more.  The purpose of the cold rinse is to stop the wool from shrinking more.  To clean your item after it is completely made, wash in cold water and cold rinse in Woolite on gentle cycle and air dry afterwards.

This procedure can work on knitted and crocheted items if they are made with 100 percent  yarn.  However if you use these, use larger gauge needles for your project to compensate for shrinkage.
Once your felt pieces are dry, cut according to your pattern and enjoy.  Debbie used the hem of the sweater for the top of the stocking.  Sew a loop on it for hanging.  No need to even line it.  How easy is that? 

Well, time to end this blog.  I need to run down to my local thrift shops to find some wool sweaters so I can get down to my own wool projects.  Happy crafting!

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