Over the weekend I took a break from all the felting projects I’ve been working on and decided to knit this sweet and simple felted bag! A perfect purse for Valentine’s Day! Better yet, it’s a free pattern on http://www.knittingdaily.com
Since we’re talking about felting, let me try and explain the difference between wet felting and controlled felting (or fulling) in the washing machine! First, you know felt has been around for thousands of years, perhaps the earliest fabric made? “Wet” felting is traditionally defined as making a fabric from layering wool batting or fleece, applying moisture, heat and a little friction or agitation and viola, you’ve made a piece of felt! (Like my tea cozies…) Now you can cut, piece, sew your wool felt into a wearable or other fiber art.
On the other hand, whether you know it or not, you may have already felted a wool handknit in your washing machine by accident (like that lovely pink lambswool/angora sweater that came out of the washer the perfect size for your daughter’s doll?) or perhaps by hand-washing a wool article a little too aggressively! Simply put, a knitted wool article placed in the washing machine (top loaders work best) along with hot water and agitation will result in felting your item.
A few felting tips: 100% wool felts beautifully, but other animal fibers also work…but why would you want to felt that beautiful cashmere sweater?? Some wool/synthetic blends will also felt(typically 85/15, but I’ve also felted 50/50). Not all WOOL felts the same! Make a swatch and test it. Adding a novelty yarn will act as a resist and ‘modify’ the results of your felted piece. Always place your wooly into a zippered pillow case! You’ll be amazed at how much loose fiber washes out and may damage your washing machine in the long run. Every washing machine is different. Work in 5 minute intervals; stop and check your progress. Repeat the washing another 5 minutes, and so on, if you need to felt more.
The felting process in a nutshell:
Place your wooly into a zippered pillow case. I like to presoak my wooly in hot water for at least 30 minutes…to open up the scales. Set your washer on the lowest water level, HOT wash cycle, HIGH agitation. Throw in an old pair of jeans (for added agitation), add your wooly article to the washer. Add a squirt of DAWN dish soap to the washer and run the machine for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stop the machine and check your wooly. If additional felting/fulling required, run in 5 minute increments until you reach the desired results. I like no stitch definition! Do not let the wooly run thru the entire cycle or you may risk permanent unwanted creases! Remove from the machine, rinse, shape and towel blot. Lay the wooly flat over the floor heat register (or over a bowl or cereal box to shape?) and air dry.
Good luck and happy fibering!
P.S. The other photo is my latest tea cozy made with my Shetland wool and a needle felted sheepy make-do pincushion!