Fullcloth, felting, and Hopsalot…

 

The cold nipped Almanzo’s eyelids and numbed his nose, but inside his good woolen clothes he was warm. They were all made from the wool of his father’s sheep. His underwear was creamy white, but Mother had dyed the wool for his outside clothes.

Butternut hulls had dyed the thread for his coat and his long trousers. Then Mother had woven it, and she had soaked and shrunk the cloth into heavy, thick fullcloth. Not wind nor cold nor even a drenching rain could go through the good fullcloth that Mother made.

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This passage is on the second page in Farmer Boy, and it’s a book I’ve read many times. I’ve always marveled at the resourcefulness of Almanzo’s mother; Angelina Day Wilder. She knitted, sewed, tatted, crocheted, and did all the household tasks common to a farmers wife during that period.  Truth be told, I was more fascinated by her than Laura Ingalls own mom; Caroline. Interesting, since besides Farmer Boy, Almanzo’s mom is only mentioned in one other book in the Little House series… Laura’s mom is mentioned in every single book in that series. With the exception of The First Four Years, where she’s not mentioned much at all… but that’s understandable since in the First Four Years Laura is a newlywed who’s starting a new life with her husband,  Almanzo in their own home.

Yesterday, I experimented with making my own ‘fullcoth’, I don’t see too much reference for fullcloth online… I’m guessing, fullcloth was discovered by accident and what a delightful accident that was! Washing wool items in hot water naturally made it shrink, which produced a dense fabric.  However the process that Laura Ingalls Wilder describes in the above passage, is what’s done when felting wool also.

In order to felt wool, you need to use wool that will shrink, since I have plenty of wool yarn that isn’t superwash yarn (wool fiber that’s been treated so it won’t shrink) I was ready for my first felting project.

Felting; before and after

 

Above you see a before and after felting picture. I was impressed with how much the wool had shrunk, and how dense the fabric became. It’s extremely thick, soft, and most importantly warm. I can see why Almanzo’s mom and numerous others made fullcloth. It would do an excellent job of keeping out the cold.

Hopsalot designed by TinyOwlKnits. These aren’t my shoes, just want you to see what the completed bunny slippers look like. :)

 

For my felting experiment, I knitted slippers, and I used Patons Classic Wool. I’ve been looking for an excellent slipper pattern for months now, and Thursday, I stumbled upon a pair that I absolutely adore; Hopsalot! Hopsalot is one of many designs created by Tiny Owl Knits/Stephanie Dosen. Aren’t those bunny slippers sweet? In the first picture, you can tell that my felted slipper doesn’t look anything like a bunny, since I didn’t knit the ears, or add the eyes or mouth, but I’ll do that some time this weekend.

I didn’t follow the pattern religiously, I used worsted weight yarn, instead of DK. Also, I used my size 8/5.0mm Hiya Hiya sharp needles instead of the recommended size 11/8.0mm needle. And, I didn’t hand felt the wool. The slipper was tossed into the washer (hot water) and dryer.

This knitting goes by fairly quickly, I was completed one slipper in about two hours. I must say I’m pleased with this pattern. If you’re a new knitter the only techniques you need to know are knit, purl, slip 1(S1), and make 1(M1). A simple pattern, that produces some lovely slippers.

Photo Source: Tiny Owl Kits

7 Responses to Fullcloth, felting, and Hopsalot…

  1. curls and q says:

    Q – The slippers are so absolutely adorable! Are they for your daughter?

    And, the Ingalls series was one of my favorites when growing up. My maternal line were Norwegian immigrants who farmed, so I imagined my family in place of the Ingalls. 8-)
    curls and q recently posted..Delightful Handpainted Fiber Surprise

    [Reply]

    Opal Reply:

    @curls and q, Yes, they’re for my daughter, she’s usually my tester when I’m working on something new. I’ve found a few tweaks I’ll be adding to Tiny Owl Knits design, and naturally will make her an updated pair… in a different color of course. Eventually, I’ll be making some for myself. I’ll use the slipper design for the body, but I’ll opt to add something else besides bunnies, although they are adorable.
    Opal recently posted..Burning a hole in your pocket…

    [Reply]

  2. Julia says:

    aaw, i want these bunny slippers. They look so cute und they would keep my feet warm in cold times like these.

    [Reply]

  3. [...] few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Fairy Castles by Tiny Owl Knits. It’s knitted and then felted. I love it! My 9yo daughter is a talented artist, and most of her drawings are fantasy inspired.  [...]

  4. [...] other gifts. I have another gift for O, but that will take a bit longer. I’m knitting her the hopsalot slippers. Hopefully, I’ll be able to work on them during my [...]

  5. Turina says:

    We just finished Little House on the Prairie, and I decided to read Farmer Boy for my son before going on to the next book. First thing I did after reading that passage was google fullcloth and yr post came up :) I am wanting to make some I think, sound similar to felting and I’ve done that before so should be fun. We might make a fullcloth coat for the doll.

    [Reply]

    Opal Reply:

    @Turina, The entire Little House series is excellent. I read them when I was either seven or eight and have reread them numerous times, throughout the years. I’ve even read them to my daughter. I started reading them to her when she was around five years old. She’s now ten. :)

    Since this post, I’ve made a lot of fulled cloth/felt, it certainly is an interesting process and my daughter has enjoyed shrinking wool immensely.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!
    Opal recently posted..Adventures in Beekeeping: Queen, worker bee larva, and honey spotted

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Name and Email Address are required fields. Your email will not be published or shared with third parties.

CommentLuv badge