Hot Wheels

Good guess Carrie! Yes, inside the crate was a 40″ Feltcrafts Rolling Machine.

felting_machine.jpg

This machine is designed to take the labor out of felting, rolling the fiber by machine instead of by hand. The fiber is laid out in the traditional manner on the blue bubble wrap, sprinkled with warm, soapy water, rolled up and then sandwiched between the pvc pipes.

The machine runs on a 115 volt, 1/2 HP motor mounted to the frame. Pulleys attached to the motor turn the bottom rollers. The handcrank raises and lowers the top roller. When the fiber roll is sandwiched in place, turn on the motor with the speed control and watch it roll. Varying the speed of the rollers and the amount of pressure applied by the top roller affects the felting action.

felting_machine_label.jpg

The key is learning the magic spot where there is enough pressure to simulate handfelting, but not so much that the fibers are prevented from agitating against each other. Another variable to complicate the equation involves the speed of the rollers. How fast should it go? Too fast and the felt tends to twist and warp, but run it too slowly and the piece will take hours to finish.

As long as the machine is on the floor, there is still lots of ‘work’ involved in felting. Every couple of minutes, you need to crank the handle to raise the top roller, remove the bubble roll, unroll the felt to check for skew and/or progress, roll it back up, load it in the machine and wind the crank to lower the top roller back into position exactly where you had it the last time (trying to remember how many times you cranked it when you removed it a few minutes earlier). I made two narrow scarves yesterday, spending two hours on each. I have yet to determine a systematic approach for finding the secret mix of speed and pressure; systems are really not my forte.

So far, it appears the blessing of this machine will be its ability to create very large pieces of felt, which I simply can’t muscle by hand. Since the distance between the rollers can be adjusted by the handcrank, it is possible to do very fine pieces of nunofelting or extremely thick horse blankets.

Since all big machines deserve a name, I’m announcing a contest with prizes for the best name suggestion. The winner will be announced on March 10th.

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11 Responses to “Hot Wheels”


  1. 1 Josiane Friday, February 29, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    That’s great! Have fun experimenting with it! As for its name, well, I’ll think of it and will come back… I hope I can come up with a good idea!

  2. 2 Elizabeth Friday, February 29, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    You write: I have yet to determine a systematic approach for finding the secret mix of speed and pressure; systems are really not my forte

    I say: you won’t need a truly systematic approach. My bet is that soon you will know just how it sounds when it’s felting just right.

  3. 3 Carrie Friday, February 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Holy cow! That’s amazing! What fun, making huge pieces of felt. I’d love to see a demo sometime 🙂

    Let’s see.. it looks like a workhorse to me so the first name that came to mind was Gertrude. Or Brunhilda. Or maybe … there’s another name on the tip of my tongue but I can’t think of it right now! Maybe multiple suggestions isn’t fair anyway 🙂

  4. 4 Carrie Friday, February 29, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Bertha! That’s the other name I was thinking of. Whew.

  5. 6 thesickchick Sunday, March 2, 2008 at 7:21 am

    Wow, I am envious 🙂

    I suggest for the name: Rollergirl 😉 (Even if the machine feels masculine to me, but “Roller Derby” doesn’t sound as name-y)

  6. 7 Maia Tuesday, March 4, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    That is a great machine! I used one very much like it once. A friend does nuno felting and the machine made very short work of a scarf (posted in my Ravelry projects); maybe 45 minutes?

    A name. Hmm, one needs inspiration for a good name; not sure I have inspiration. I like Maida for some reason.

  7. 8 Josiane Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Ok, I’m back… Somehow, the idea that I wanted to find a name that was related to your shop’s name stuck to my mind, and from then on nothing else than Felt Speeder came to my mind… phonetically, it goes well with Spider Felt, but it feels like it’s much more of a functional description than a great name.
    Oh, wait, starting from there, another idea just came to me: Velocity. Same idea(except that the connection to your shop’s name is lost), but sounds much better as a name!
    Or, if I get back to Spider Felt, why not Arachne? She was a weaver, but hey, that’s as close as I’ll get to both spiders and fiber arts! (Oh, bonus poins for Arachne after looking her up in Wikipedia: I’ve just learned that her father was a wool dyer, and her son discovered spindle spinning! Great family!)

  8. 9 Paul Friday, March 13, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    That`s ok but this is way better

  9. 10 Kristín Monday, November 16, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Halló.
    Are you selling this Machine ?
    Best regards,
    Kristín E. Sigurðardóttir


  1. 1 Felting a Sheepskin, Minus the Skin « HomeWork Trackback on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 10:53 am
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