Pat Spark ©1998

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This article first appeared in Issue 24 of the North American Felters' Network Newsletter.

Many years ago, Beth Beede of Massachusetts developed the following method for making a hat. Following Beth's instructions, Kathe Todd-Hooker, Kjerstin Spark-Stahl (my daughter) and I made hats on a ball one afternoon. (We used about 50 grams of fiber per hat and a collapsible, 9" Gertie ball.) What a lot of fun! Here are some drawings to describe our process:

Equipment needed:
9" deflatable ball (Gertie brand)
6 inch diameter bowl (or so)
3 queen sized panty hose tops
water, soap
plastic covering for table
grippy "stuff" shelf liner (place over plastic table covering, on work area, to prevent bowl from slipping)
foam rubber base and felting needles to make repairs, if needed.
large dish pan (or sink) to hold soapy water

Materials needed:
merino wool roving, 50-80 grams (2-3 ounces), depending on thickness of hat.

1. Place the ball on bowl with valve facing down and cover it with soap gel.   Spread out the roving to thin out the strips. Lay a strip of carded batt, about 3" wide x 18" long, 1/8" thick across the ball, to hang down vertically.


                                                                                                        2. Lay second strip vertically at right angles to the first one.

3. Fill in between the crossed batts with short pieces.

 4. Place a square of wool in the center of the ball. Then spiral around with a strip of fiber.

5. Put on a third layer of fiber, going vertically again.

6. With the help of a friend, stretch a panty hose top out to a large rectangle and carefully pull it over the fiber covered ball.  

Left top: a panty hose top being stretched out.

7. Turn the ball upside down and place another panty hose top over it.

8. Rotate the ball sideways and add a third panty hose top.

9. Put a small amount of warm, soapy water in a pan and push the ball down into the water until the fiber is entirely wetted.

10. Knead the ball for about 1 minute (120 kneading rolls.)

11. Bounce the ball, keeping it low, on a flat surface for about 3 minutes.

12. Carefully peel off the first two layers of panty hose. Check the wool under the last panty hose layer to see if it is holding together well as a felt. If not, put the panty hose back on and continue bouncing, checking the felt every minute or so.

13. If the fleece has turned to felt, deflate the ball and remove it.

14. Full the "ball" shaped felt into the desired hat shape by wringing in the crown area; stretching out the opening, rubbing the hat on a washboard; throwing the hat into a sink to harden it and finally blocking it on a hat form or on your head. The hat will shrink more quickly if it is very hot and soapy. So keep it warm during this process.

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Last updated: May 22, 2001

Pat Spark ©1998