I am no stranger to using yarns in my work, but I don’t usually play with locks. I bought some beautiful dyed Teeswater locks for needle felting, but they are so pretty I am almost afraid to use them. I take them out occasionally to just look at them. Here is a doll I made (unfinished) with some lovely blue locks.
And a gnome with autumn colored locks.
To be fair, I am not a big fan of locks in scarves as locks are not soft, even though they look pretty. However, recently I have seen some lovely work with locks and decided to put aside my issues with them and ordered some natural locks to see how I would get on with them. They should be arriving soon. In the meantime, I came across a video tutorial by Natasha Smart Textiles on YouTube. It was for a little clutch bag with yarns, locks and wool batts, so I decided to give it a go.
I had placed an order with DHG Italy for some carded merino batts in a few colors. The prices have gone up since covid, but I didn’t have to pay VAT or duty as I ordered under 100 euros worth of goods and I got my 10% discount for being a member of the IFA. It is worth waiting for sales. The colored batts are extra fine and so soft and fluffy. I had purchased colored merino batts from World of Wool in the past, but they have stopped selling them. I had also ordered some yarns from WOW. I wanted to try the Hoop Boucle and I must say I am really impressed with how it felts. You can see my layout above. The base layer is batts, yarn, locks and more yarn.
This is the front. I made a little purse with the excess. I am as pleased as I can be with the outcome, but this was my first one and the first is always a learning curve.
Here is the back of the bag and purse. The bag is perfectly straight. I just didn’t notice it was a little wonky in the photo!
And with snaps.
So, I obviously didn’t follow the tutorial exactly. I did use a sander and that did save me a lot of time without all the rubbing. Instead of rolling up some plastic to separate the locks and yarns from felting together on both sides, I just popped a piece of bubble wrap in the template to keep them separate. You could also make the template longer and that would do the trick. I used floor underlay as my template. I would also make the corners rounded next time and make the template bigger. I ended up with a 25% shrinkage without a huge amount of throwing. I could have gotten more shrinkage, but then I would have lost out on the size of the bag. I still have a sturdy felt regardless, but I would have liked to have felted it down more. I like to do rubbing with my felting tool in-between throwing to get a nice firm felt and to make sure it is nice and smooth. Batts felt really quickly, though and I haven’t been used to working with them.
For a future bag, I would not use much yarn, or any, under the locks as you don’t really see them. I used some superwash merino that stuck. I think you can get away with a very small wool content in the yarn for a first layer and you would only really see it in the fringe. I would also be more careful about lock placement. I used the really nice curly pieces at the end for the fringe and will remember to make sure not to have them too long on the end as they will need trimming. I could have also done with more curly bits on the flap or center of the piece. Also, do not use a thick wool on the top layer. I bought a wool single ply from WOW and although very nice, not for a project like this. If I did use it again, it would be more to anchor down the yarns with less wool content on the first layer. In hindsight, I am wondering if I used too many locks. I can always use less next time. I can even use roving. In any event, I think I have lost my fear of using locks and look forward to making another bag. I am going to give this one and the purse to my little neighbour down the road for her birthday. Maybe when things get back to normal, she can make one with me.