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Needle-Felted Patch Experiment

This past winter, my friend Rachel gifted me with a number of gorgeous sweaters from her “collection.”  As she said, “You don’t like to shop, and I do, and if I don’t get rid of some of these I can’t buy more.” Now THAT is a real friend.

A particular favorite is this beautiful turquoise wool V-neck.  Turquoise is really the only shade of blue I wear, and this one is a lovely wool with flecks of navy and a lighter blue.  I wore it about three times before I realized there was a hole in the left elbow.

I thought, “Why not make a patch?” since the sweater is wool, and I have a lot (a LOT) of wool in the house.  I could darn it (okay, I have  darning egg but I’ve never darned anything in my life, although my mother did it all the time).  I could wet-felt a patch, let it dry several hours, trim it and sew it on or needle-felt it to the sweater.  Or, I could just needle felt a patch shape and needle-felt it onto the sweater.

I went through my felting stash, which mainly consists of lots of colors, hand-dying “seconds” and “ends” I got off some great vendors on Etsy. I found a few tones of turquoise and blue that might work, but nothing really close and not much of any of the individual colors.

I got out my hand cards and split up the colors, laying them evenly across the cards, and blended them  a few times until I got something I thought would be acceptable — no, I didn’t make turquoise, but I figured it’s a blue of some sort.

Instead of trying to make a free-form patch I had to have help making a shape. I don’t do “free-form” very well, I like patterns and diagrams, I can’t draw a straight line let alone needle-felt an oval. I used one of the flower shaped cookie-cutters I use when I needle-felt flowers. This shape requires a lot of time spent carefully poking the scallops around the edge, and I did that, then got the center ground pretty solid.  Turn over, repeat.

Laying the patch onto the sweater, I see that either I don’t have any good light in my house (which I don’t), or I’m pretty much color blind (not) or I just don’t know how to make turquoise from non-turquoise wool (yep).  But since “not quite,” “almost” and “pretty good” are frequently used in the conversations I have with myself, I soldiered on.

I cut a piece from one of my needle-felting foam pads, one that really really needed to be retired anyway but I never threw it out.  Once you’ve needle-felted on one piece of foam for a few years, all your punching pretty much results in a lot of tiny flecks of foam all over your work, since the foam is deteriorating.  It takes a good bit of deterioration to get me to let go of anything craft-wise.  This was a good reason to do so.  I took the smallish piece and stuck it up the sweater’s sleeve.

I laid the little bluish shape onto the sleeve, tucked the sweater in around it in order to get as many wefts of sweater yarn under the patch edges, and started punching.  After a while, the edges did catch, proven by the fact that everything didn’t fall apart when I took the square of foam out of the sleeve.

Okay, so now I have an amorphous, bluish blob on the sweater.  Hmmm.  I rooted around in my needlepoint stash and found some very very light blue wool.  A bit of blanket stitch around the edges did define my amorphous blob a bit, and certainly did help in securing the edges of the patch to the sweater.

It didn’t look much like a flower any more, but after a few French knots in the center it did kind of look like…. maybe a flower?

An abstract, “almost” morning glory?  I say it does.  After a few careful washings, I expect the needle-felting to get sturdier, and if it holds up for another season I say that’s success.  And a quirky, free-spirited, woolly success at that. Just the way I like my successes to be.

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