Make cozies to warm your glass, hands, and soul
There is something particularly satisfying about taking a big ball of fuzz and molding it into something beautiful and practical, such as these cozies, which make clever gifts. The process is simple ― all you need is warm soapy water, a washboard, and a willingness to endure prunelike fingers.
The felt is created by applying gentle pressure, warmth, and moisture to felting fleece, which can be ordered on the Internet. Fingers, hands, and the washboard supply the pressure, a process called fulling, and the warm soapy water shrinks the fibers into a compact form.
The fleece is firmly applied around the outside of a sturdy glass suitable for hot beverages. After being saturated in the warm soapy water and coaxed into shape, the wet fleece will eventually dry, retaining the form of the glass.
Fleece balls, available in many colors, are sold in 1/2- to 1-pound bags and cost $8 to $14. One pound will yield about eight cozies. Our colors came from www.halcyonyarn.com and www.peacefleece.com.
1. Fill a large bowl with warm soapy water, the warmer the better. We used Ivory dishwashing soap in a ratio of approximately 1 tablespoon soap per 3 cups water.
2. Pull off a piece of fleece large enough to fit around the glass. Overlap additional pieces in varying directions until the glass is covered in 1/2-inch-thick fleece to about 1 inch below the rim.
3. Using both hands to hold the fleece around the glass, dip the vessel into the warm soapy water for a few seconds (a). Cup the fleece to the glass with your hands, applying gentle pressure (b) until the fleece begins to hold together on its own.
4. Once the fleece is holding its shape, move the fleece-wrapped glass to the washboard. Gently rub ― or full ― it on the washboard (c) using a small, gentle circular motion. Periodically dip in or pour more warm soapy water on the fleece, alternating between rubbing on the washboard and cupping the fleece to the glass with your hands. If the fleece gets too close to the glass's rim, trim cozy with scissors.
5. To add decorations, use a piece of fleece that is a different color from your cozy. Dip the fleece in warm soapy water and press it firmly between your hands until it resembles a thin sheet of felt. Cut out the shape you desire, then, with your fingers, work the shape into the fleece (d) until it stays put. Continue to full cozy until it reaches the consistency you desire. Less fulling will result in a loose felt; more will produce a stiffer, sturdier felt.
6. Rinse soap from fleece with warm water, then press a towel around the glass to extrude any residue. Remove cozy from glass; air-dry it for several hours, or use a hair dryer to hasten the process.