When writers are not writing…
When writers are not writing… sometimes they make hats.
When Di Bates asked me if I’d like to come to a felt hat making class she was hosting, I thought: Why not. I’m always keen to learn a new craft and while I’m not a hat person, there are murmurs of change there. Last winter I discovered how warm beanies are.
First, a message to all would-be felt-hat-making debutantes. This is not a craft for the faint-hearted. No gentle click of knitting needles. No calming swirls of coloured paint.
There’s a lot of thumping, rolling and twisting. By the time the session is over (block out 6 hours in your diary) – your wrists will ache, your feet will hurt and your back will be complaining.
To begin, you create four layers of wool on a base. The turn it over and add another four layers. This is the fun part. Playing with coloured wool and shiny threads.
This the hard work part. You press – and rub – with soap and water. And do it again. Multiple times over. Then roll, one way, horizontally, with force, thirty times. Then the other way, vertically, with force, thirty times. Then diagonally thirty times. Twice. With more force. Felt hat making is a complete upper body work out.
Now to shrink it. Into hot water, you squelch and wring mostly dry. But still heavy enough to make it hard to knead. Yes – like bread but twice as tough to do. And roll. Thirty times this way and that. Knead and roll, repeat the whole knead and toll process – three times if you’re lucky. I needed six.
You get the idea? Damn hard work.
But in the end – a pretty cool looking hat. One an author would be proud to wear at their next school visit.