One day last fall the hubs and I took a ride to go visit an alpaca farm. We were playing with the idea of getting a few alpacas to add to our little farm but decided to get goats instead. While we were visiting, the women gave me some wool roving to bring home so I could try making felted soap. I had never seen or heard of felted soap before until she showed me some. I was intrigued.
The process is so easy and so much fun. All you need is some soap, some roving, an old stocking or plastic sandwich size bag (optional) and water. I believe you can buy roving at a yarn and fiber shop or order it on line. They also have fiber fairs that you can attend and I’m sure you would get some really good roving there and probably even get your own sheep, or alpaca, or angora goat or whatever else you can get wool from. Do you know you can even save the fur your dog sheds and use it for roving? You can, I’m not kidding! I was lucky enough to get more roving from a women that lives down the street from me because she has been teaching me to spin and I had some colored roving leftover from a felting class I took to make felt bunnies for my grandkids for Easter so I was all set. If you are wondering what the heck roving even is, well it is basically the wool you get from an animal that gets cleaned and carded and made into long narrow bundles of fiber used for spinning or felting or covering soap! Sometimes you even find straw or hay or grass stuck in your roving and I think that is kind of neat because it reminds you that it really does come from an animal that eats hay and sleeps on straw and hangs outside on the grass. I don’t take it out when I find it, I like it, I think it makes it rustic, real.
Ok, back to the soap. You can use any soap your little heart desires. Square, round, big, small, fat, skinny, whatever, doesn’t matter at all. If you are using a bar with sharp edges or corners you will want to smooth them down a little bit. All you need to do is bang the soap on a cutting board or you can even take a little warm water and smooth the edge with it. Don’t get too crazy, you just don’t want a hard edge to poke through your roving thats all.
Now onto the fun stuff.
First you want to take your roving and gently stretch it out a little so it’s not too thick. Kinda pull it apart so you have a nice thin piece.
Now just cover your soap in it, wrapping it all over so none of the soap shows. Don’t get too carried away with this because if you use too much wool you will have saggy baggy soap, if you don’t use enough the soap will show through. It has to be “just right”. You can add different colored roving at this point to make a design but I will get into that later. Right now let’s just cover the basics.
So, soap is covered in roving, good, now cut the foot off an old nylon stocking and place the covered soap carefully inside it. Dip it into a bowl of hot water and let it get good and wet. What you want to do now is take that soapy stocking and start working it. Gently at first just start rubbing it to build up a lather. As you rub, try and squish the wool around the soap at the same time making sure to smooth out any lumps or saggy spots.
What is going to happen here is that the wool roving will start to shrink and adhere to the soap. At this point I take the soap out of the stocking so I can work it and see it better. Once I’m satisfied with it I rinse it in hot water and then in cold water. Put it onto a tray or cookie sheet lined with paper towels to absorb the water and let it dry out. If you want to use a plastic sandwich bag in place of the nylon stocking you simply place the covered soap into the bag and fill with a little hot water, just enough to wet the soap and work up a good lather. Work it inside the bag the same way you would use the stocking. I’ve tried both ways and they both work great. I do prefer the way the stocking holds the soap and if I want to make a design on the soap I can make sure it stays in place better with the stocking method.
To make designs in your felted soap you can use different colored roving and place them however you would like. You can even cut shapes out of felt and apply them to the soap with a very thin covering of roving on top to hold them in place. Another method would be to actually felt a design onto the roving using a barbed needle. Whatever you decide, have fun with it. Let your imagination run away. Enjoy!!
If you want to add a rope for soap on a rope then you can braid the roving and attach the ends, or roll the roving into a long tube, or if you are lucky enough to have a whole basket with roving that you messed up trying to spin, then by all means use that!! Nothing goes to waste here. Mistakes just find new uses.
This is so simple it would even make a great project to do with little helpers. I can’t wait for my grandkids to visit so I can give them each a plastic baggie, soap and roving and watch their eyes light up when they see what they created. When you are done with the soap, don’t throw the felted covering away. You can cut it open, fill it with potpourri, sew it closed and use it as a sachet. Or maybe make it into a little pillow for the tooth fairy. Just sew a button on top of the opening you made, store the tooth inside until the tooth fairy comes then tooth out, money in!
Felted Soap. Soap, scrub, washcloth, keepsake all in one. Life is good.