Artisan stretching vibrant pink wool during water felting workshop, surrounded by a rainbow of wool supplies.

Beginner’s guide to Water Felting: Crafting art from wool

Article written by @margaretjanedesign | Discover the joys of water felting with our easy-to-follow guide. Learn the basics of transforming wet wool into vibrant felt green creations, perfect for beginners looking for a new craft.

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What is Wet Felting used for? 

Wet-felting is one of the oldest ways humans have made fabric. I have been experimenting with ways to use scraps of knitting and thrifted yarns to felt, and have been thrilled with the results. I am excited to share this process with you, and hope that it will spark your imagination and empower you to try it for yourself.

Proud artist showcasing a handmade felt art piece with multicolored patterns, in a creative studio setting

What do you need for Wet Felting? 

I work mainly with Merino Wool Tops, which are very soft and fluffy and felt relatively quickly. I recommend using a soft wool like Merino for this process, as it really lets the yarn scraps show through. You can use any type of yarn scraps when you’re felting them into the wool. They will be sandwiched between the layers of roving so they don’t need to be 100% wool.

Wool fibres have scales on the outside that open up when you add water, and by rubbing and rolling the wool, you will cause these scales to mesh with each other and become one cohesive piece. It feels a bit like magic.

Bowl filled with colorful wet felting scraps alongside white wool and olive soap, demonstrating the felting materials.
Close-up of white wool roving with flecks of colorful felting pieces, capturing the texture and detail of materials.

Supplies 

Merino Wool 19 micron  in Natural: 25 grams

Yarn Scraps

Bubble Wrap

Face Cloth

Hand Towel

Olive Oil Soap (any soap will work)

Crinoline

Bowl

 

Step-by-Step Guide to Wet Felting: How to Start Your Project 

To start, lay out a piece of bubble wrap that will best fit your project. Wool shrinks about 20-30%, so know that you will need to start your piece bigger than your desired result. I am laying out a piece that is about 12x12”. When you are laying out the wool, envision it as a fluffy cloud with light puffy layers of wool. Keep your layers light so that the yarn can be seen and your piece will felt evenly.

For this piece, I laid out two light layers of wool before adding the scraps. Lay each layer perpendicular to the previous layer of wool. This will keep things even and will give the wooly scales on the fibres lots to grab onto, which strengthens the felt.

Craftsperson gently pulling at white wool fibres, preparing materials for a wet felting project on a textured surface.
A tidy workstation with pure white wool roving and colorful wool snippets ready for a wet felting session.

The sprinkle 

Once you have your layers, sprinkle the yarn scraps over the wool. A light layer will be easier to felt, but feel free to play around. This is the fun part! To finish, lay a very fine layer of wool on top of the yarn scraps. This is the thinnest layer. The thinner you make it, the more yarn scraps will show through. Just make sure to get a small amount of wool over each scrap of yarn so that they will stay down.

A tidy workstation with pure white wool roving and colorful wool snippets ready for a wet felting session.

The rub 

Now, put the crinoline over top of your piece and go fill a bowl with warm water. Pop your bar of soap into the warm water and rub it between your palms to get the water nice and bubbly.

You will then take your washcloth, dunk it in your bowl, and sprinkle the soapy water all over your piece. Once you’ve sprinkled it with water a couple of times, you can start to press down on your piece to spread the water around. You don’t want to drown it in water. Use just enough so that you saturate the whole piece evenly. Now run that bar of soap over your piece a couple of times to get it nice and soapy. The soap helps the fibres to slip into one another smoothly.

A snapshot of the wet felting process with multicolored scraps scattered over a sheet of white wool on a bubbled wrap.
Crafting hands pressing a green olive soap bar onto wool roving amid a spray of colorful scraps during wet felting.

The roll 

After you’ve given your piece a good rub, post-lathering, you can gently remove the crinoline. Now comes the rolling. Roll your piece tightly in the bubble wrap and then in the hand towel, to give you some grip while you roll. Gently roll your piece back and forth about a dozen times. Now unroll it, and roll it in the opposite direction. Continue to roll and unroll, switching directions each time to shrink your piece evenly. Wool will shrink in the direction that you roll it. After you’ve rolled your work a number of times in both directions and you notice it has shrunk a bunch, give your piece the ol’ pinch test. Pinch a bit of your piece and pull up. If the fibres come up, like a small fibre tent, you have some more felting to do. If not, you’re ready to give it a smack.

Hands rolling up a wool roving covered in scraps.

The smack 

The last part of the process is called fulling, and it’s quite cathartic. Wind up and smack that soapy wool right on the table. Now do it again, and again, and really just keep doing it because it’s fun. You’ll notice that the wool will start to get a boiled wool texture and shrink up even more.

When you’re tired of smacking your piece around, rinse it in cold water and hang it or lay it flat to dry.

op view of a wet felting workspace with a bubbled wrap, showcasing the end of a beautiful wool felt piece with mixed scraps.
A hand-held piece of freshly wet-felted fabric with vibrant wool scraps, against the soft light creating a dreamy texture.

I’d love to see what you create using this process. Use the hashtag #feltedyarnscraps when you post so I can take a peek at what you make!

Christie Peters is a self-taught felter who has been working at her craft on and off for 15 years. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada,  where it is wool season much of the time. She is currently working on putting together a felting kit with an instructional video, to spread the joy of felting wool far and wide. Follow her @margaretjanedesign to see what she’s got on the felting table.

I am excited to share this process with you, and hope that it will empower you to try it for yourself.
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