Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meeting Highlights: Felted Purses

We had a great meeting in our new space. Nineteen showed up for the meeting and we had room to spare. We were able to have one table for those who wanted to attend but didn't necessarily want to work on the project at hand, and three tables arranged in a U shape to allow the instructor plenty of room to walk around and help those needed assistance. If you are a bit claustrophobic (like me) and haven't attended a meeting for awhile, give us another try; the new space is a huge improvement and gives our meetings a whole new feel. This place even has a coat rack so we don't have to sit on our coats for the entire meeting!

We had a short business meeting.  Some highlights:

  • Copies of the proposed bylaws were distributed and approved by the general membership.
  • It was proposed and approved by the general membership that we issue IOUs to Carol and Maxine, who had each written a hundred dollar check to our landlord for a damage deposit; in this way, we are not under any pressure to reimburse them before the group figures out how we will handle membership fees.
  • Jeanne has agreed to create a badge for our group that will appear on our Ravelry group site; this will make it easier to locate us among the zillions of groups on the website.
  • Cathy has begun moderating our Ravelry group and will facilitate discussions there; if anyone posts a question, Cathy will ensure a response.
  • Carla has volunteered to lead our charitable efforts.
  • Maxine continues to work on blog improvements; she has already taught Julie how to post to the blog, and if all goes well, the rest of your will be able to post pictures of your projects to our gallery.
  • According to the bylaws, the executive board (to be elected at our February meeting) will determine how we handle meeting cancellations due to weather. In the meantime, it is advised that you check your email just after noon on the day of our next meeting if the weather is iffy; Carol will email a cancellation notice and also post a notice to our Ravelry group if we have to cancel.
Peggy distributed a pattern for a felted purse and had a variety of felted projects available for viewing. As you can see by the picture, there are plenty of ways to make the purse your own. Here are some highlights from her presentation.
  • Don't bother to finish off any ends or weave them in. Once the project is felted, you can just cut the ends off.
  • In order to felt you need hot water, some soap or baking soda and agitation. Put your item into the wash with some jeans and a couple of towels to ensure felting. Peggy has as top-loader and times the felting process, checking the progress about halfway through the cycle and then again about three-quarters of the way through the cycle. Some projects may need to have the "wash" time extended to ensure proper felting.
  • Projects can also be felted in the dryer (Maxine is a proponent of this method). Heat and agitation are the key ingredients here, and you can check the progress at any time.
  • Sharp sheers are all that's needed to make a handle in your purse, but you can use purchased handles as well. Some people sew the handles on with yarn, but Peggy uses jewelry wire from a craft store for a strong but invisible attachment. She also uses jewelry wire to attach some bling to the bags.
  • You can embellish your bag with bling purchased from a craft store or large buttons. You can also make your own embellishments from polymer clay or use purchased pins.
  • Before you felt your project, you can weave in some ribbon or novelty yarn; when the project felts, the ribbon provides a textural contrast. Synthetic eyelash yarns work well for this also; just add the yarn and crochet double strand--the eyelashes will sprout out from the smooth felted fabric for a nice contrast.
  • Since felted material doesn't ravel, you can make slits wherever you want them. Peggy attached an I-cord decoration by cutting small slits into the bag and weaving the cord through the slits. The pattern for this bag (pictured above) was found in "Learn to Felt for Crocheters."
  • Long handles can be a bit of a problem, the dilemma being whether to crochet it onto the bag (and have it end up too short)  or to felt it separately and sew it on later (can feel wimpy). Maxine has solved this by chaining two seven-foot long lengths and then slip stitching in the back loop of the chain (the "back bump") for the length of each. She begins and ends the cord, however, with three or four stitches of foundation single crochets for a flat "connector" that is then stitched onto the bag before felting. When felted, these chains produce the appearance of an I-cord. Any extra length can then be taken up with a knot at the top of the strap. These pictures illustrate a pre-felted and felted purse using this technique.

Peggy also made a felted hat (pattern available for purchase from the website) that was cuter than cute.  I have a feeling a lot of us are going to give felted hats a try.  As you can see by the first picture, the hat is huge pre-felting, and once sufficiently felted, fits like a dream.  Since Peggy felts in the washer, her biggest problem was finding a suitable shaped and sized bowl on which to dry and shape the hat.

Our next meeting will be February 11th.  Carol will take us through the problems associated with sizing a moebius and will teach us the special foundation chain upon which her moebius is constructed.  A basic pattern will be provided.