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A Warm and Fuzzy Gift: Felted Soap

Warm and Fuzzy Soap

Legend has it that Saint Clement produced felt when he slipped some wool into his sandals to prevent blisters while fleeing persecution. All the sweat and chafing turned the rough wool into felt. Turns out water and soap work just as well to bind wool fibers together, so your kids can felt a bar of soap, no sweat. The resulting "washcloth"-covered bar keeps slippery soap contained — and is pretty enough to bestow on Nana or other important personages who ask you to wash up for dinner.

You'll need:

  • 2 or 3 colors of merino wool roving in 10- to 12-inch lengths ($3 for a 12-inch package, acmoore.com)
  • Bar of soap–glycerin or olive oil works well (Kiss My Face soap, $4, drugstore.com); for smaller hands (or multiple gifts), use small bars
  • Adult nylon or thin cotton sock
  • Big bowl of warm water
  • Towel

Instructions

  1. Peel a 1/2-inch strip from the roving lengthwise and thin it by pulling gently on the edges so it spreads out, like a spider web. Wrap the strip around the soap.
  2. Continue thinning and wrapping strips around the soap, changing direction (lengthwise, diagonally) to randomize the fibers (they bind together better that way). Wrap until soap is fully covered with no bare spots — a few layers should do it. Depending on the size of your soap, this should take six to 12 strips of wool.
  3. Put your hand in the sock, grab the soap, and pull the sock up over the soap. (Then take out your hand — you can play sock puppet later.)
  4. Dunk the sock-wrapped soap in warm water. Plunge and squeeze until wool is completely wet. Gently rub all around soap for five to 10 minutes.
  5. When you start to see wool fibers migrate through the sock, remove the soap from the sock (or it will start to stick). Keep rubbing the soap until the wool has shrunk and molded around the soap, about another five to 10 minutes.
  6. Rinse soap under hot tap water, then roll in a towel to wick away excess suds and water. Let dry.

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