A favorite felting book is an important thing –
Alas, I know how to neither knit nor crochet. So, my favorite felting book doesn’t focus on the popular activity of boiling and shrinking woolen knits. And while I’ve used the technique of needle felting, it is only on such rare occasions, that I can hardly give advice as how to make a charming animal. Instead, I work with the technique of wet felting, where I wet wool fibers with soapy water and agitate them until they become entangled and shrink to become a strong and flexible fabric.
I’m someone who likes to learn from reading books, versus watching YouTube videos. Drives me mad to have to watch and see if a particular video will cover my information need. (Although I do LOVE catching the free CreativeLive classes!) Hence, while I was teaching myself about feltmaking,I borrowed loads of felting books from the wonderful Norfolk and Norwich library, where I used to live. According to the Guardian it’s been rated the ‘most popular public library in the UK’ for seven consecutive years!
Here’s an interior shot of the building dated from autumn 2012. That’s me modeling a rather sci-fi beret.
Anyway, I borrowed my favorite felting book so many times. until one day the last copy went missing! And no, I didn’t steal it; I’m a librarian – that would be beyond wrong! As the book was printed in 2005, I couldn’t find a new copy of it nor could I find it on used on AmazonUK nor ebay in the UK (yes places exist!). So, I searched American ebay, and finally found a copy. Unfortunately, it only shipped within the USA. My sweet dad, who lives in New York and hates to mail packages, kindly posted it to me in the UK.
So what is my favorite felting book??
It’s no surprise that I have rather narrow angle of participation when it comes to felting. I only make hats, for better or worse! So, drum roll please, my favorite felting book is Chad Alice Hagen’s Fabulous felt hats: dazzling designs from handmade felt. This was the book that caused my Eureka moment of finally knowing what I wanted to do with my life! It reminded me how I had loved hats so much in my 20’s, that I had taken millinery class in the evenings at Fashion Institute of Technology. And the felting? I had studied textiles in art school! Here was an activity that combined the fanciful fun of hats with the textures and colors of feltmaking!
Here’s the front cover –
While there are some naysayers to this book within Amazon reviews, I find it the perfect combination of inspiration and instruction. Some crafting books are all about inspiration and limited on how to’s. While other books confine their focus too narrowly with step-by-step unimaginative projects. To me, Fabulous felt hats, has the perfect balance!
For inspiration the book has photos of hats created by masters of felted millinery from all over the world. One of my favorites include this, often seen, Jean Hicks’ hat.
As for the instructions, they are quite the step-by-step type that one needs when first starting out in a craft. One does need to flip from the basic instructions section, to the details on particular projects. Hagen expertly describes the process of laying out fibers. She is so good at explaining the tactile details of what your fingertips need to be feeling.
Once you’ve felted one or two of your own hats, then you can try things your own way. It’s just like cooking! In the photograph below, she explains how to dissolve olive oil soap so that it becomes liquefied. Nowadays, I just put a bar of olive oil soap in a lidded container and then add water. Easy-peasy!
Here’s a photograph of some of the resist templates, which can be found at the back of the book. I didn’t ever ‘blow up’ mine on a photocopier. It might have been good to have more measurements on the patterns.
My biggest quibble is that while there is a detailed supply list in the book, there isn’t one for suppliers. The publisher, Lark Books, refers you to the ‘Craft Supply Sources’ section of their website. But this no longer exists. Am still curious about a hat stiffener that she mentions: it’s made from confectioners glaze and mixed with 190-proof alcohol. It may be this on Leko’s millinery supply website.
Do you have a favorite felting book? What was the book that led you to start your creative path?