Have you ever gone to your closet to get out one of your favorite wool sweaters only to find that over the summer the moth’s had a picnic with it and left nice little holes here and there? I find this very frustrating because I hate to throw anything away that could be re-used in some way. While at a craft fair recently, I noticed a vendor selling “felted” ornaments of all kinds. I ended up buying a flower-type Christmas ornament to give to a friend for the holidays. I asked her exactly how one goes about “felting” wool. She told me that it’s really a method of shrinking wool that causes it to become much more dense and matted together. This reminded me of a few times when I’ve accidentally washed a wool sweater in the washing machine. And then I had an idea!
I just happened to have a couple wool sweaters with holes in them – two cardigans, one red and one black. If you’d like to try this project, but don’t want to use a sweater of your own, you could also go to Goodwill and find a 100% wool sweater instead for around $4.99. I thought, why not try and “felt” them in the washer myself? So, I set my washing machine for a hot water wash and rinse, and then took the much smaller sweaters and put them in the dryer on the highest and hottest cycle as well. It worked perfectly! They came out almost like a very thick piece of felt that you could buy at the fabric store! Tip: I should have taken the sweaters apart at the seams and removed the buttons before I washed them. Not that it made any difference in how the wool reacted, but had I done that, the pieces would have remained a little more flat. So, I cut the two sweaters into large pieces (front, backs, sleeves) and then ironed them. Now, what was I going to make from them?
Many things came to mind, but I wanted to do something that was simple, and practical at the same time. While getting out my winter gear, I noted that the liners on my winter boots were really ragged – thus, another idea was born! If you’re at all like me, my feet are always cold in the winter. I decided I would make liners out of the felted sweaters for all my boots this winter! Not only is wool a naturally warm fiber, but it also wicks perspiration away from the feet.
Since I always use temporary insoles in all my shoes to protect them and provide comfort anyway, I simply traced around one of them, making sure that I would end up with a left and a right. I decided I would do two layers, one of black and one of the red and then stitch the two together on my sewing machine for stability. You could use any colors you like and make them as thick or as thin as you desire. Since they’ve already been shrunk, they can now be washed at the end of the season or whenever you want to refresh them! I was able to make four pairs for all my winter shoes and boots out of the sweaters I had.
This is a very simple and fun project to do for the whole family, and it makes a lot of sense for kids rubber boots, etc. as well! Now everyone can keep his or her feet warm, dry and comfortable, while also helping keep one more unwanted item out of a landfill. At Goodwill reduce, reuse, and recycle isn’t just a saying it’s a way of life!