The Stealth Witch

After talking with a friend I decided it might be nice to put up some "how to" posts.  While I might not be able to physically make felt I can still talk about it for a while. Also I'm aware that one of my hats is being taught by popular request, which is flattering and lovely - So I thought "Why not share it on line"? If you are a feltmaker used to making 3D seamless pieces you will be able to make one of these hats.

First a bit of background. This hat was part of the design progression series. I was making round crown hats, which were becoming increasingly pleated, creased and folded. Then I remembered a character from Terry Pratchett's Book  "The Wee Free Men" called Miss Tick.

Miss Tick is an undercover witch operating in a witch unfriendly country, and she has a contraption which raises and lowers the pointed crown on her hat at the appropriate moment. The two ideas merged together and the *Stealth Witch* Hat (patent pending) was born.

But how do you pattern such a thing? There are three main ways ...

1) The proper way - you measure your head around the the part you intend the hat to sit (ie. if you are going to wear it tipped back, measure around your forehead to the base of your skull). I wear mine sitting more forwards so I measured around my forehead above my ears.

Take your measurement and multiply it by one and a half times. Most felt making assumes a shrinkage rate of 33%. While this is not always the case, it is a good rule of thumb to apply. Percentage calculations demand that you add 50% to get a 33% shrinkage. Please don't ask me to explain the maths because I can't. You'll just have to trust me.

2) The second way is to draw a pattern from your existing measurements and add a generous extra couple of inches (5 / 6 cm) all the way around. This approach is for the Gung Ho amongst you and I don't recommend it.

3) Last but not least, learn by heart that the diameter of a hat pattern needs to be at least 15" wide and the crown at 18" high.

My pattern is 27" at the widest part of the brim, narrowing to 18" at the forehead. The brim is about 5" deep and the crown is a whopping 32" tall.

Once you have those measurements plotted down on your resist material (I use laminate flooring underlay because it has a slight "lip" to it which helps in identifying the edge and preventing seams), the next big thing is drawing the point of the hat.
Do not make this angle too narrow, 45 degrees is the minimum angle you can get away with. Any sharper and you will end up with a point you cannot shrink down into a pleasing tip. Instead it will felt to itself and misbehave.
Round off the tip too, or else as the felt starts to shrink, the resist will poke through the top of your hat and spoil it.

Lay out and felt using the 3D resist technique. That is 2 fringes of wool and 4 layers of felt. If you don't know what I am talking about I'll do another tutorial soon, but most feltmakers will know what I mean. As soon as the resist starts to buckle, cut it out, rub out the seam line and heal the brim edge.
After fulling until the hat fits your head, the last part is to crimp down the crown. With the hat extended, pinch the felt and pleat it against itself by pushing down with your fingers, about an inch deep at a time. Start pinching at the place where the top of your head will come and work the fold all the way around the crown, then repeat a little higher up, pinching and pushing until just the tip is left.

Eventually you will be left with a flat profile to the top of your hat and the appearance of several concentric circles. The central one of these circles is the tip, which when pulled will extend the hat back out again.

Once you are happy with your pleating, set the folds by steaming your hat or letting it dry while creased. Then finish with trim and go out undercover to scare small children with your witchiness!

Just a small note - I am very happy to have this hat made for personal use, but please not for sale, and if you do use my pattern I appreciate being recognised. Thank you.

The Pleasure vs Pain equation

Things go well, things go badly. The two seem to be linked by some unfathomable law which holds an equilibrium between pleasure and pain. Or put another way, everything has an equal and opposite reaction? Something like that. All I know is what when something goes well, something else won't.

So anyway I won a City and Guilds Gold medal of excellence in Feltmaking and Design. It was a wonderful feeling being awarded, a real pinch me I'm dreaming moment.

The back of the medal has the  arms of the 16 livery companies that set up the initial City and Guilds training ... it's shiny and pretty and I was very proud. Then I was invited to the Lion awards to celebrate...

Best bib and tucker donned, managed not to spill my food down my frock or twist my ankle (I am out of the habit of wearing high heels). Met lots of interesting people including a Saville row tailor, ate wonderful food, watched marvellous entertainment, stayed up late and enjoyed every second.

Then I came home and received the results of the MRI scan during the preoperative assessment. My shoulders aren't ever going to be good enough to carry on felting, even after going under the knife. All repetitive motion has to be avoided. While I was expecting some decompression surgery, it may involve a rotator cuff repair as well.

All the work I had put into using the washing machine as a felting tool was not enough, it bought me enough time to get me to here, but now it has to stop. After all, who would be so stupid as to carry on doing something that is simply going to damage them physically?
Not me.