Several months ago, I was busy working on making soap for Tailored Touches orders when Callie, my ever-curious assistant, asked me what “felting” was and why I had decided to offer felted soap as a product. As I explained the process to her, she became just as intrigued in the technique as I had when I first tried it. Needless to say, we stopped what we were doing, pulled out some cured buttermilk soap and roving wool, and started felting! She got totally into it. We had a blast!
Callie's Questions on Felt!
Callie had a million questions! Here are some of them...
1 – What is felt?
Felt is a dense fabric made with natural wool fibers. By wetting the fibers with hot water and rolling, pressing, or agitating them with soap, the fibers all become interlocked and matted together permanently. This process has been used for at least 5500 years. It is resistant to wind and water, making felt an excellent choice for clothing in the colder climates. The Greeks taught the Romans how to felt. The Vikings passed their knowledge down to the people living in the British Isles. Because it is a natural fabric, much of the early examples of felt have decomposed over the centuries... but not all! In fact, one of the earliest felted garments found was in Coventry, England and traced to the 13th century!
2 – Do you have to use wool fibers? Can’t you use a plant fiber to make felt?
Animal fibers will intertwine into felt, but plant fibers will not. So, felt is only made of animal fibers, most notably wool. You can use other types of animal fibers, but they can be more difficult to find or prohibitively expensive. So, wool is the most common fiber found in most any felt.
3 – What is “roving wool," and why is it a good choice for felted soap?
Roving wool is a type of wool that has long fibers. This makes wrapping up the soap easier. In order to make a felted soap, you need to wrap up a bar or ball of soap much like a gift and then work it under very hot water.
4 – Why use felted soap instead of regular soap?
Long before people used loofahs or washcloths for bathing, felted soap allowed you to get a creamy lather without using much soap and gave you a built-in washcloth. The felting helps to conserve the bar of soap so it lasts longer... plus the wool is anti-bacterial! The roughness of the wool acts as an exfoliant by removing dull, dead skin cells to expose new ones. This is great for the skin. So, felted soap is a practical, yet beautiful, way of getting clean!
5 – Uh oh. What do I do when the soap is all used up?
If you are like me, you can’t ever throw away the last little sliver of soap! So, I usually just paste it onto the next new bar. With felted soap, you can always recycle by cutting a small slit into the felt and stuffing slivers of soap inside. That way, you don’t waste any soap slivers, and you can make your own felted soap!
Happy Valentine's Day!
I thought today was the most fitting day to write this post about my heart collection. It is one that has taken me years to gather, and all of my hearts hold some special story. So I'll share some of my favorites!
The Heart that Started it All...
The item that started my collection was a very special heart my high school sweetheart gave to me when he asked me to marry him. He and I had talked for quite some time about building a life together. We had friends who were getting engaged with the traditional solitaire diamond ring, and I mentioned how boring I thought they were. So he asked what I would like to have “someday”… and I said a heart. Little did I know until later what lengths he went to looking for that perfect ring. Heart-shaped stones were difficult to find since they were not that popular.
He had just moved the summer before from our sleepy PA town to Richmond, a big city in our eyes. So we didn’t see one another as often as we wanted. He made the long drive home every couple of weeks to visit. One weekend in early April, he surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of red roses. My birthday was still a couple of weeks off, so it really was a special treat. As I was sniffing the blood-red blooms, I spied a sparkly ring and nearly dropped the whole bunch on the floor with excitement! There before me was the most beautiful heart diamond I have ever seen. It was sitting in a simple white gold setting… no frilly side stones or fancy ring. The heart diamond was so sparkly and absolutely perfect! Of course, I said YES! We went on to get married and have two kids together. A few years ago, I had that diamond reset into a necklace. It will always be the most precious of all my hearts since it symbolizes an innocent time that was the beginning of everything I’ve become since then.
My Kids' Heart Projects
As I sit here writing this post, I’m looking at a heart that has been sitting on my desk since my daughter made it in 1992 when she was 10. It’s a clay heart with “I love you” inscribed on it. I’ve had it on my desk all these years and smile each time I see it thinking of the full-of-life little girl that she was! She has grown into such a wonderful young woman that has always had a heart of gold.
Another favorite of mine is the picture that my son made for me when he was in the 4th grade. It’s a simple row of colored stenciled hearts made with chalk. He brought it in one day after school telling me that he was going to throw it away, but then he remembered how much I loved hearts. When he pulled out the folded up paper, I had no idea what to expect. Opening it, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to frame it. It has been one of my most prized hearts since 1991.
The Outer Banks in NC are very near and dear to me since I spent many family vacations there watching the kids play for hours in the surf. So, it’s only fitting that I have a special heart from there. It’s a wooden, hand-carved puzzle box that was the first of my wooden puzzle collection. Over the years, I added a fish and whale… no hearts on them, though! Isn't it stunning?
The Road More Traveled!
Several years back when I was still dreaming of creating my own business, I had a sales job that covered a territory of 13 states from PA to FL. I sold safety lights and sirens to federal customers in the police and fire departments of all branches of the military, law enforcement agencies, national parks, etc. My demo car was a super outfitted Dodge Charger. So I drove up and down the Eastern Seaboard… A LOT. I spent at least 30-35 hours a week behind the wheel of that V-8 hemi with the rest of my time spent with my customers doing demos of the car. I loved my customers and the folks I worked with, but the driving was so monotonous and lonely. Spending 3-4 nights a week in hotels is not all that fun, but it was a living. Both of my parents were still with us then, so I spent many an hour driving and talking to them on the phone catching up with what they did that day. On my visits to some PA customers, I always made sure to stop by my parents for a night to visit in person. On one such visit, my Mom gave me this vase. She said it was a heart and the design reminded her of all the roads that I was driving on. She always had a way of finding that perfect gift that suited the person at the perfect time… and this one was perfect for me! I’ll always treasure it!
The Pup that Stole our Hearts
For 16.5 years, I had the most special dog. Her name was Crackers. I got her when I was a senior in high school... before my "adult” life began. She was a lost and abandoned soul who was about 8 months old when I adopted her at the local shelter. Her hair was ratty, matted, and dirty. She was terribly skittish and afraid. My folks thought I was nuts taking on such a hopeless-looking mutt. But I could see that all she wanted was to feel safe. We grew up together. She was there when I got married and moved to Richmond… when I had both the kids… when we moved from our first house to the house the kids grew up in. She loved riding in the car and playing with the kids. Christmas was her favorite time of year since she loved opening her own gifts and having the kids stick bows all over her as they opened theirs. She went everywhere with us… trips back and forth to PA… vacations… dropping the kids off at school. She was stuck to me and me to her. When she finally gave up her fight and died, I didn’t have the heart to bury her since I knew I would move on eventually from that house. So, here she sits in her urn always with the ones that loved her best. We miss her every day.
Love from Mom & Dad
My Mom and Dad were always so very crafty with anything they did. This heart painting is one that Mom made when she was approaching 70, got bored, and decided to take painting lessons! This wreath is one that Dad made out of scraps of wood in his workshop…simply perfect!
My Kids are My Heart
Of all the things I’ve done in my life, the two that I am most proud of are my kids. They are what life is all about. These two pictures of when they were tiny are very precious to me and hold my dearest memories. They have grown to be better adults and people than I could have ever dreamed of. Because of them, I have a rich life with so many adventures and memories. They are what make this Valentine’s Day and every one truly special…
Welcome to Tailored Tidbits!
If I'm not in the kitchen cooking up new items for my shop, I'm sewing fabric baskets, taking care of our honeybees and Ms. Kitty, pitching in on the latest project at my son's, or planning a trip somewhere with my daughter. Here, I'll share a "day in the life" at Tailored Touches!
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