CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Felting under the Sun

Katharine Jolda, felt artisan, is becoming well known in the Bay Area and in the primitive skills community for her beautiful felt vests and jackets. In April she gave a weekend workshop for parent/child teams to make a child’s felt vest. Bodega Pastures sheep ranch Bodega provided the fleece and the setting – a meadow surrounded by sheep.

While some participants teased and carded fleece with hand-carders, others took turns on Katharine’s bicycle powered carding machine. Then they chose the colors they wanted from the multi-colored carded fleece, laid it out on the customized patterns and began to felt…. and felt …. and felt.

The Cyclocarder in action Photo: Paige Green

Katharine helped each felter work the vest pieces to the desired size and incorporate such design features as roll collars and double breasted fronts. Buttons of deer antler or abalone shell often completed the vests.

woman's vest and hat

Since the April workshop Katharine has taught felt making and natural dyeing at the Buckeye Gathering for primitive skills in Forestville and also at several Bay Area schools.

Adult felters under the sun Photo: Joe Mortenson

She returned to Bodega Pastures on July 21 and 22 to teach another felt vest workshop, this time for adults making adult vests.  All participants got the chance to card fleece on Katharine’s Cyclocarder, her bicycle powered carder which won her first place honors at the Maker’s Faire recently.  Also in attendance  where singers from Kitka, a world renown singing group who lead rhythmic work songs in vocal techniques from Eastern Europe.

If there are enough enthusiasts she may be persuaded to teach a further workshop in the fall.

Find her website at and contact her at Katharine(at) or phone(928)221-4815. For fleece or batting for felting contact Bodega Pastures at (707) 876-3402 or bodegapastures(at)

These workshops are sponsored by FIBERSHED whose focus is making links between local growers, designers and consumers.  Read more at

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