Did you notice the recent Anthropologie catalog had felted soaps for $14 each? You want to make some of your own for gifts? Well here is what you do:
You need a bar of soap, I like glycerin soap for these but other kinds of soap work well too, roving and pantyhose. I cut the pantyhose into 6-8″ sections or use knee highs.
Start out by making a layered roving blanket just like you do for making felted balls. Unwind a length of roving, while holding it in one hand, grasp the end portion with the other hand and gently pull off “tufts” roughly 5-6 inches in length. Spread the fibers into a thin flat layer with all the strands going in one direction.
Pull off another tuft of roving and layer it on top of the first, at a 90 degree angle. Repeat this process several more times, criss-crossing 4-6 thin layers.
When lifting the blanket of roving there should not be thin spots or holes. Changing the colors of yarn in the layers will create a heathered multicolored wool.
Take the soap, wrap it with the roving blanket and slip it into a panty hose and loosely knot it.
Run the pantyhose and roving wrapped soap under some warm water, saturating it, turn off the water and begin rubbing the wrapped soap as though you are washing your hands.
It will begin to lather, continue rubbing it, working all the sides. What is happening is the wool fibers are beginning to knot and tangle with each other creating the felt. Keep rubbing the soap until you see little fibers coming through the outside of the pantyhose, this will take several minutes.
When this happens you carefully remove the felted soap from the panty hose and smooth it between your hands and set it aside to dry.
The soap suds on the outside will dry and disappear leaving you with a lovely little felted soap.
If you are doing a lot of soaps you might consider wearing gloves, I got some pretty chapped hands one year when I made them for everyone in the family.
If you are making these for yourself or for gifts, let the person know not to bother putting them at the sink for a quick hand wash, which is so tempting because they are beautiful, because it takes a couple minutes to work up a nice lather. These are great in the shower or bath since they have a nice gentle scrub, like a built in washcloth.