Thanks, yet again, to the advice and encouragement from Nicola of Clasheen, I’ve made another bag – this time with an integrated handle to avoid the problems of trying to felt on a separate handle. (Also, if I’m honest, because I find making handles just a teeny bit boring!)
I was also trying out a sample of Icelandic wool I ordered from World of Wool, as it’s supposed to be light and water repellent and – most importantly – to felt easily. The fibres are very long and rather coarser than merino, but the mottled natural shades add a beautiful texture (like the grey hairs I’m starting to get!). They also smell, um, a bit sheepy, especially when wet!
So I cut out a rounded A-shaped template and covered it with one layer of pale yellow merino. I was intending to do the other two layers in light grey Icelandic wool, but after the second layer I didn’t think I’d have enough. So I used a pearl-coloured merino for the top layer.
A few of the coarser fibres in the Icelandic wool came off during felting, but most of them felted through the two merino layers on either side of the sandwich, creating an interesting texture that I rather like.
I don’t think the proportions of the bag are quite right – I shall make it narrower at the bottom next time – and I haven’t stitched around the ‘secret pocket’ or the handle. I might also turn up the top of the flap so that some of the yellow shows outside.
But the principle works, and the handle is just the right length. Thank you Nicola!
Buoyed by my success with the ridgeless felt eyeglass case, I thought I’d try making a bag with a handle. Following the instructions in Lizzie Houghton’s Creative Felting, I made the handle first by rolling and wetting strands of wool to form a long cord, leaving the ends dry so that I could felt them on to the bag itself.
Then I made the bag as before, enclosing a bubble wrap template with two layers of wool plus decoration, rubbing and rolling it before cutting it open. At this stage I tried to felt the handle to the inside of the bag, wetting the dry ends of the cord and rubbing them to attach them to the bag. However, I think the bag had gone too far in the felting process, as I couldn’t get the handle to stick.
It seems that if I am using an enclosed template I will have to attach the handle to the outside of the bag at an earlier stage. I don’t think I can cut through the wool to felt the handle to the inside of the bag any earlier, as it won’t be stable enough.