Monday, July 19, 2010

Working Hands (And Feet)

Have you ever wanted to learn how to felt?  I was lucky to have the opportunity to participate in a volunteer event at Wave Hill last week where I got to learn a little bit about this incredible type of fiber art .  For this project, volunteers helped artist Liz Burrow create a felted blanket that would then be used as the canvas for a gorgeous embroidered quilt (to later be displayed at Wave Hill throughout the summer).

It quickly became evident why volunteers were needed---felting is a  lot of hard work!  I think I used every muscle in my body. The key to felting all those little tiny fibers into one durable piece of fabric is moisture, heat and agitation.  In these photos you can see some of my fellow volunteers using soap, hot water and...

...their hands...




and their feet....


and their arms to make this blanket...


The experience made me think about the tradition of turning fleece and fur into clothing, rugs, shoes, hats, baskets and much more.  The fiber crafts of spinning, dyeing, knitting, weaving, and felting have been around for thousands of years and were once a necessity for survival (and still are in many parts of the world).  While many of us now participate in these crafts for more artistic and creative purposes, we are also keeping alive a tradition of handwork that was passed down from generation to generation.

How serendipitous for me that the prompt this week for The Sunday Creative is "traditional".  I used to love watching my Nana knit when I was a little girl, and although I didn't really learn the craft from her, I am a knitter now myself.  Maybe you learned to knit or crochet from your grandmother?  Or, are you are currently trying to teach a child or someone in your family some type of craft involving handwork?

Check out other interpretations and stories of tradition at


7 comments:

Tammy Lee Bradley said...

Great use of the prompt. I am drawing a complete blank which is rather un-traditional for me. LOL!!

Jamie said...

What a cool project to help with. I wish I had learned to crochet and knit from my grandma, she always wanted to teach me and I was always too busy. I regret that now.

Corinne said...

What an incredible process. It must have been wonderful to participate!

Mildred said...

I watched my grandma crochet but I never could master it! I have a blog friend in TN that you would love to visit if you don't already follow her. She does felting and has the most amazing purses for sale. It is http://leedrasphotosforfun.blogspot.com. Tell her I sent you - she's also a great gardener.

Virginia said...

I now feel like a total pansy for not attempting to felt in my washer and dryer-less apartment.

That must have been hot work this weekend! If it hadn't been my birthday/anniversary weekend, we woulda been over at Wave Hill...

Hen Jen said...

wow, that is incredible! I had no idea there was so much physical stuff involved with the process.

great photos!

Brooke said...

Thank you for posting pictures of thie cool process, I was unaware of what all was invlolved. My mother-in-law has showed me some crochet but I haven't taken the time to master it, maybe I should