Shibori Scarf Felting for Scaredy Cats
By Betz White
* old wool sweater
* washing machine
* sewing machine
* cotton string
* corks, bottle caps, coins, buttons (Several of one these items, or a mix of all will do.)
1) The first step is to select a sweater. There is a little bit of mystery in felting a pre-made wool garment. You never know how the wool has been treated in manufacturing. Besides trial and error, I have a not-too scientific process for this. This sweater is a fine gauge lambswool. It’s a Men’s size so it’s nice and big! I hacked off a sleeve to test felt to be sure that I would get a good result before trying the shibori techniques. I just sent the sleeve through the washer (on hot) and dryer (on low) with some other laundry. Afterward, I compared the felted (actually “fulled”) sleeve to the unwashed one. It shrunk about 4″. Like I said, not very scientific, but my guess was that it would work for shibori.
2) Next I cut the sweater into 4 rectangles and straight stitched on a sewing machine. Each rectangle measured about 9″x16″.
3)This is the time consuming part. Tie cotton string tightly around buttons, corks, super balls, soda bottle caps, whatever is interesting. I used a bunch of corks that were sliced into 1/4″ thick “buttons”. I tied off about 29 sections. The wool will shrink everywhere except where it is tied off. Be sure to use COTTON string because it has a high wet strength and it won’t felt!
4)Put the scarf in a lingerie bag. Felt in the washer by using hot water and a little detergent. Put some jeans in the load for some added friction. Stop when you get the desired result. Dry slightly in the dryer on low then air dry. Use a seam ripper to cut the string and remove objects after it is all the way dry. Be patient (it’s hard!) it may need to sit overnight to dry completely.
5) Ta da! Finished scarf. The total width shrunk about 1″, the length shrunk about 12″! (from 64″ to 52″)
This tutorial was first published on Betz White’s blog on May 6, 2006.