This was an experiment....
I made some felted large "emu size" eggs for my mom's birthday which is just before Easter but couldn't seem to find a basket I liked to put them in . I haven't learned wet felting very well yet, so decided to try going "old school" and make a braided basket of wool roving .
For this, I used two different blends of Romney that I got from a shop on Etsy..Fleecemakers...(http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=107081 ) . I took two 6 foot strips of sherbet and cream and one of autumn spice which I put in the middle . I clipped all three roving strips with a large chip bag clip and put that on top of a 6 foot cabinet . Then I began the braiding, being sure to keep each strand separate, (they do want to get tangled so you have to keep separating them . )
When I got to the end of the strips, I even them out a it and tied a light knot . For the large basket I needed, it took two of these 6 foot sections . I then coiled the first strip around a large Tupperware container and began needle felting . I used a size 40...which I use for everything but would go much faster if you have a larger needle or more then one . Just be careful not to poke so hard into the plastic that you break your needle . I poked from every angle, moving the bowl around as I went until I had an even looking wide tube shape . I then coiled the second 6 feet braid into a spiral on my felting mat and felted that together (adding a semi felted roving oval that I had lightly felted to the shape I wanted . ) I, gain, felted from all angels,. to make sure the fibers were bond to their neighbors . I only lightly felted the edge of this oval because I wanted some loose fibers to bind to the "tube" body of the bowl . I then put the bottom onto the body and more mad poking ensued . From start to finish, it was about 6 hours of work .
I think that you could also sew the braids together to get a different shape before you begin needle felting and might even be able to put in washer to wet felt but haven't tried that yet . Sure would speed up the process but might lose some of the braid detail, so depends on the effect you are after...braided look or more blended colors .
As mentioned, I use Romney not merino for this so it s not "soft" but keeps it shape well and felted faster then merino which I will experiment with next . Stay tuned .