Wooly Bully

I’ve had fun with my purse making project.  It’s been an interesting creative outlet and learning experience.  I used felted wool to construct my one-of-a-kind weirdly wondrous little bags.  The bags were then embellished with vintage buttons and baubles.

Felting is a process of boiling wool so it won’t ravel or fray.   To felt my wool I loaded it into old pillowcases tied tight with string.  The fabric needed to be contained so the wooly bits don’t end up ruining the washing machine.  It was a mad scientist procedure. A cute yellow cashmere vest would go into the laundry a size 8, and come out wee-teeny enough to fit an American Girl doll.

I spent hours combing eBay for $1 merino vests, angora sweaters, and mohair scarves.  I’d be thrilled if I ran across something unique like a leopard cashmere cardigan or bright blue argyle pullover. Friends and family donated old woolens to the cause.  My sister sent her cool 1969 brown, orange and white ski sweater. Likely she could have eBayed that for some serious money.  In gratitude, I made her a purse.

Neighbors dug through their button boxes and gifted me with fabulous vintage buttons, all sorts of old cufflinks and tie tacks, and fancy collars and trim.  Those I won’t give up.  I love them.  Collecting them is a hobby of sorts.  It gives me an excuse to visit antique and collectible stores.  Below is a snippet of the hundreds of fasteners and frills I’ve gathered.

Since downsizing I haven’t had any interest in sewing.  Friends suggested I wait a full year before liquidating my materials.  We’ve only been here four months. But suddenly 2019 felt like the right time to move on to other imaginative projects.

All the fabric used for production was taking up much-needed closet space.  I reckoned it was time to get the wool out of the guest room wardrobe.  Our only designated storage area is a 2nd floor 36″ by 48″ wire cage.  We live on 29th floor.  We have to travel down 26 floors to just get to our miniscule coop.  (And yes, I have the math right.  There is no floor 13.)   Allowing stuff I was finished using to monopolize an entire closet didn’t make sense.  The Wooly Bully needed to go.

But what to do with all my wool?

I didn’t want to shove it down the trash chute.  It seemed wasteful to dump it.  It may seem like a pile of rejects to the casual observer, but to me, it was creative gold.

I was lamenting how to dispense of it when Terry, our fabulous painter, suggested I post it “Free” on Craigslist.

My posting read

“Free to a Good (or merely mediocre) Home”

I didn’t hold out much hope anyone would be interested in a huge pile of scrap fabric. I was amazed when, right away, I got an email from a local named Virginia. She asked 1) Is the material still available?  2) If so, what is your address?

I gave her the info and–poof— Virginia disappeared into cyberspace.  Maybe my home was too long a drive from hers?  Perhaps the neighborhood scared her?  Possibly Virginia realized even for free it was still just a mountain of shrunken cashmere coats and lumpy fisherman sweaters, chopped into remnants.

Next, I got an email from Michelle.  She asked two things.  1) Is the material still available?  2) If so, what is your address?

Yes!  Still available.

Michelle promised to send her sister Susan over the following morning to take away my treasure.

I shoved it all into giant lawn and leaf bags.  (Why we moved those bags to our condo is a mystery, since we no longer need to fuss with either lawns or leaves.)  These photos represent a small portion of my inventory.

The next morning at 9 a.m. sister Susan arrived in her small Toyota Corolla.  Riding shotgun was Woodrow the black lab, aka Woody.  Woody had eaten the better part of her center console, and both pleather front seats, revealing foam rubber beneath. For the record,  he didn’t appear a bit guilty.

While Woody dined on the car, Susan and I managed to fill her small trunk with the enormous bags.  I asked what Michelle had in mind for the wool.  It turns out Michelle does arts and crafts with children at a local homeless shelter.  Hooray.  My cherished wool will be well and creatively used.

I got an email the following afternoon from a delighted Michelle.  She thanked me profusely and said the first project planned is to make “Valentine Monsters”.   I’ve no idea what a Valentine Monster is, but I’m sure those homeless kids creatures will be made of soft, cozy, colorful felted cashmere.