The felted hat is finished.
A tad big you say? This is pre-felting. It fits perfectly now, post-felting, but what a procedure! I tried to felt it by hand using detergent and very hot water. 45 minutes into that nonsense (without a significant change in size) I decided to throw it in the washer. Unfortunately I have a gentle front load washer and it took more than two full cycles to get it down to the right size. Now it is a perfect fit.
Before I began the felting process I searched in vain for a bowl that would be approximately the size of my head to use as a form. Nope. Not a one. I attempted to pad an existing bowl to add additional circumference, but in the end I used the most logical item....the one that assure a perfect, custom fit. I used my HEAD. That's right, for nearly two hours I shaped and formed the hat while it was on my head, finally crawling into bed at one in the morning. I left the hat resting on a wig form and was relieved this morning to find that it still fit.
I am debating now whether or not I should add some decorative detail with needle felting. I am undecided. If I leave it "as is", it looks fine, and can be coordinated with nearly anything. If I add additional color (likely just black and white) it will cut down the number of things I could wear it with, but would jazz it up some.