As it was my first time processing my own wool I was so enthusiastic and fascinated that I was feeling the need to create something different in shape and size than my usual felted items; Something which will look rough, uneven and with ruffle texture! This thought led me to create a small round carpet! As always using the wet felting technique* but this time with a bit more freedom allowing me to work outside and enjoy the whole process by inventing new ways to felt and… employing more than my hands!
The carpet is made of the wool which I processed and it is blended with other two ready qualities of wool in fleece form, i.e. Australian merino in orange-red and Karakul in light brown (honey) color. The white parts of the carpet are the ones which I processed and come from a local breed of sheep in Greece. Unfortunately the name of the sheep breed is not known but their hair is short curly and a bit thick.
The colored wool is split in different quantities and applied in thick layers on the white woolen basis, which is made from the wool I have processed, creating the desirable patterning. When the surface of the basis is covered with the required wool layers then the whole carpet is poured with hot soapy water and covered with a thin plastic. Then it is rubbed (this time by foot), at the start softly and later harder, up to the point that the layers of wool are nearly affixed. After that the carpet, as it is still wet, is rolled in a bamboo mat. In order to avoid the difficult part of rolling the carpet on the floor by hand, I decided to pull it by car on a rough road. Returning from the small walk I rinsed the carpet changing between warm and cold water. The whole process contributes in shrinking the carpet in an irreversible way to create a mat that can’t be separated!
It was a great pleasure playing with water and meanwhile completing the whole project outdoors. Overall the entire process was really fun except a small accident (while pulling the carpet by car) which fortunately didn’t destroy the whole project!
The final result looks indeed rough and with an uneven surface however it feels smooth and soft and I suppose it will be fairly warm for the winter since it has four thick layers of wool!
More photos of the carpet and its process you can find on facebook: QaraQul’s fan page
* Felting is one of the earliest forms of textile processing. Asian nomadic tribes started spreading all over the continent thousands of years ago. Wool becomes felt when it is subjected to moisture, heat, and pressure. Hot soapy water makes the wool slippery, and causes tiny scales on the fiber to “open up”. The scales prevent the fibers from backing up again after they slide across each other; with agitation, the fibers get hopelessly tangled together.