i think these kitchen mitts are a nice holiday project. this is an intermediate level felting project. it involves felting around a resist (in this case made of bubble wrap) that creates 2 layers of felt around a pocket. if you've never tried wet felting before, i have a beginning felting tutorial on my website here, or a how to make felt kit for beginners in my etsy shop. i recommend that you try making flat felt before you try this project, but then this project should be pretty simple.
materials you'll need: a few ounces of wool roving, dish soap, hot water, a waterproof tray or work area, a small piece of bubble wrap, and some towels on hand for drying up. optional: nylon netting.
make a pattern using bubble wrap. trace around your hand, leaving extra space.
the pattern piece. i made an asymmetrical heart, but you could make it symmetrical, or a circle or oval.
put your pattern inside a waterproof tray, cookie sheet, or tupperware. lay out the wool roving on top of the pattern in slightly overlapping tufts with all the fibers parallel, pointing in the same direction.
lay out the wool so that the ends of the fibers extend past the pattern. the fiber doesn't need to extend past the pattern in all directions. where the fibers are parallel to the pattern, they can line up with the edge of the pattern; where the fibers are perpendicular to the edge of the pattern, they should extend.
lay out a 2nd layer of fibers, this one perpendicular to the first.
drizzle some dish soap over the wool.
and some hot water. it doesn't have to be a lot at first, you can always add more. it's helpful to pour the water (very gradually, so as not to float the fibers apart) in the center, as it's good to keep the very edges dry if possible (you'll see that later).
you can put a piece of netting or screen over the wool before you start to work with it. a laundry bag for delicates works great. this is not necessary, but makes its a little easier to work with the wool and keep all the fibers in place. an alternative is to put a plastic bag over your hand, and then press down and continue to apply friction as in the following instructions.
the netting or the plastic bag both serve the same purpose: to allow you to apply friction to the fibers and let you move your hand smoothly over the wool without moving it around.
press down directly with your fingers flat, to wet the fibers. try not to get the fringe sodden.
you can work the wool in small circles.
turn it over. the bubble wrap pattern is now on top.
fold the fiber over the edge of the pattern.
the first layer folded all around the pattern. if the edge area isn't wet enough, it will be hard to made it fold over precisely. as i mentioned earlier, it's best to try to keep the fringe area dry. this is because in the following step, you will add fibers to the 2nd side, and you want them to felt with the first layer. if the fringe edges of the first side get completely wet, they have a tendency not to felt with the 2nd side.
lay out another 2 layers of wool on the 2nd side. as before, the second layer is perpendicular to the first, and the ends of the wool fibers extend beyond the edge of the pattern.
as before, drizzle some soap and hot water. work the 2nd side as the first.
repeat as before, work the wool and wrap the ends around the pattern.
at this point, each side has 2 layers of wool.
repeat this process: lay on 2 layer of wool on one side, add dish soap and hot water, work the wool and wrap the ends around to the other side. repeat on the 2nd side with 2 layers. at this point, there are 4 layers of wool on each side.
to make a really thick pot holder, add 2 more layers of wool on each side, making it a total of 6 layers on each side.
the pot holder in process, with 6 layers of wool on each side.keep working the felt, rubbing the wool in circles. it's felted when it passes the pinch test: when you pinch the fibers, instead of the fibers coming off individually, they hold together.
using scissors with a pointed tip, cut a vertical line in the center of the heart on one side only (don't cut through the bubble wrap), starting and ending the cut 1-2 inches away from the top and bottom. not all layers of the wool will be felted, and you can cut the layers gradually, taking as many cuts as you need.
if you are using the asymmetrical heart design, choose which side you make the cut in as follows: if you want a right-handed pot holder, align the large half of the heart with the fingers of your right hand and the small half with your right thumb, as in the diagram above.
when you cut through the felt, it won't be felted all the way through.
work the cut edge between your fingers and thumb, or the fingers/palms of both your hands.
the cut edge after it's felted. make sure to rinse out all the soap. do this as a gradual process, by adding more hot water and continuing to work the wool, it will continue to felt and become denser.
wring out all the water, roll up in a towel to absorb excess, and dry flat.