Hurray! It worked. ")
I have been wanting to try felting a whole raw fleece for some time. Wet felting however is very physically demanding, what with the rolling, and rolling, and rolling. Since my back is not happy with leaning and rolling for hours on end, I've been looking for an alternate method.
I know from hours of trolling fibery websites and groups on the interwebs that fiber artists have had success with some wet felting in the dryer. I even found a reference to felting a fleece in the washing machine, but no directions. I decided, what the heck, might as well give it a whirl, so to speak.
I started with a cotted (that means somewhat stuck together) shetland hogget fleece. I layed it out on a sheet with the cut side up. Then I started to lay a THIN layer of merino roving on top.
After that I folded the sheet carefully over the whole thing, starting with the long sides, then folding in the ends. I was VERY careful to make sure that all the wool was encased in the sheet and not touching itself or sticking out. Finally I rolled it tightly on itself from one end, and tied it with several ties, also tightly.
The whole thing got stuffed into my front loading washing machine. I set it on permanent press, hot wash, cold rinse and put in a bit of Eucalan. Finally, I fired up that washer! (Then I sat in front of it and watched the wooly package flop around. Yes, really.)
After one cycle, I pulled it out, unrolled it, placed it on a clean sheet, folded and rerolled the sheet from the side, and put it back in for a second wash. When I took it out and unrolled it, this is what I saw:
It shrank ALOT, but it held together and it is very well felted. Drawbacks: 1. The washer wouldn't spin, so I had to throw dry towels in to soak up the dirty water. 2. It's kinda stinky.
I'm really happy with the result. It would make a wonderful matt, small rug, or whatnot.