21 August 2006

Shoddy Pillow

I forgot to post about this earlier, when I was in my felting phase, although I think I mentioned it.

Around about that time I was re-reading Annemor Sundbø's Everyday Knitting: Treasures from the Ragpile, which is one of my favorite historical books about knitting ever.

She owns a "shoddy factory" in Norway, a place where they take old donated wool garments and process them into mattresses and quilt filler. There's a lot more to the book, and if you don't know it you should go look it up now, but for the moment I'm occupied with this whole idea of "shoddy," or wool scraps.

I had all these scraps of felt leftover once I'd cut up my felted sweaters into the right shapes for handbags and pillowcases. And it's against my principles to throw out anything that's 100% animal fiber. I can't even throw out the little tufts of wool that come out in the felting process, or yarn ends I've cut off from knitting that are way too short for a magic-ball or anything else. I've had vague thoughts about needle-felting these, but there's nothing to be done with teeny little pieces of felt, is there?

So I was thinking this, while reading about shoddy. And I remembered that pillow I was attracted to at that recycled products store in Brooklyn ("3R"). It was filled with bits of foam leftover from futon mattresses, and chopped into bits. The tag said that it's supposed to be good for your neck or something, on the same principle as those buckwheat pillows (and of course it was insanely expensive). Why shouldn't it work the same way with wool scraps? Only there'd be the extra-added pleasure of knowing you're putting your head down on pure, lovely sheepiness.

So I took one of the zippered pillowcase covers I'd bought for felting things in, and I started filling it with my wool scraps. Any pieces of felt bigger than about 1/2" by a 1/2" I cut into smaller pieces. It looks like this (only now there's much more felt in it):

And it's heavenly to rest your head on. It's quite a bit heavier than a foam or down pillow, but I think it's worth it. I've got one standard-size pillowcase more than half-filled now, and ideally I'd like to have two full ones eventually, so my husband and I don't have to fight over it. Those of you who haven't already been inspired to make a shoddy pillow of your own - do you have felt scraps you'd like to donate to my pillow project? Do you, too, experience guilt when you throw out pure wool, even in tiny, tiny pieces? Email me, and I'll tell you where you could send them...

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