When I first saw hairy soap, I was immediately fascinated. More elegant than soap-on-a-rope, softer than a washcloth, more natural than pump-action liquid soaps and oh-so-easy to make, hairy soap is a great craft for ages 4+ and make great gifts without that made-by-kindergarteners look.

Hairy soap, May 2012
I was disconcerted when I needed to wash my hands and reached for the soap in the bathroom — only to discover that it was covered with hair!

Our latest hosts have introduced us to hairy soap, also know as felted soap. Pip made a number of felted soap cakes to give as gifts last year and offered to show me how it was done.

The procedure is very simple and takes only about ten minutes. Plus you end up with lovely smelling hands. How often do you encounter a craft this wonderful?

How to make felted soap, May 2012
Gather your materials — natural fibre in your choice of colours, a cake of soap, hot water in a bowl and an old stocking.

We used alpaca fibre from a farm down the road which sells online as Naturally Alpacas. The quantity of fibre used per cake of soap isn’t very significant, so it’s a great project to do with left-over fibre from other felting or crafts.

How to make felted soap, May 2012
Separate some fibre and start wrapping the soap with it. It's important to try to choose a section of fibre that doesn't have a hole in it so that the fibre is consistent across the cake of soap.

How to make felted soap, May 2012
After you've wrapped the soap one way in the fibre, choose a new piece of fibre and wrap it the other way, — i.e. length-wise and then width-wise.

How to make felted soap, May 2012
You want to cover the whole soap tightly with your wool, tucking loose ends in.

How to make felted soap, May 2012
If you like, add bits of a contrasting colour to provide interest.

Some really creative individuals make super designs on their cakes of soap with semi-felted patterns, even felting words and graphics. You can see a fine collection here on Pinterest.

How to make felted soap, May 2012
Place your wrapped soap into the end of a stocking. This is a great move for beginners and ensures the fibre doesn't fall off the cake of soap when it gets wet.

How to make felted soap, May 2012
Submerge your soap into the bowl of hot water and start to massage the fibre together. You're pushing out air bubbles and rubbing the fibres together as they shrink with the help of the water. A gentle, circular motion is all that's necessary, but don't forget to rub all the edges as well as both sides.

How to make felted soap, May 2012
When the felt feels like it's fitting snug around the bar of soap, pull it out of the stocking and examine it. If there are any remaining loose bits, you can still rub those sections together without using the stocking.

Rinse the soap under a tap with cold water. Push away the lather so you can examine the bar to see if the fibres are sticking together — which they will.

How to make felted soap, May 2012
Pat out all the excess water with your fingers or a towel and leave the cake of soap to dry overnight.

Felted soap, May 2012
The finished, felted soap is wrapped in soft fibre. It looks great and is lovely to use!

This is a great craft to do when you want some gifts. It’s fun to also offer for the kids to do when they’re bored. Stock up on some fibre and soap today so it’s ready to go — you’ll enjoy the simplicity as well as the end result!