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No, this isn’t a post about my latest romantic escapade (hah! I wish!); it’s about something I’ve thought about for a while, but never got around to doing anything about until now. And that’s FELTING!!
Inspired to Felt by a Visit to My LYS
What got me started was a visit I made to Aloha Yarn, the wonderful yarn store that’s 5 minutes from my house. I’d gone there to check the place out and was greeted, not only by Nanea, the proprietor, but by a fantastic array of felted knit bags in a variety of shapes and sizes. Well, I just HAD to learn how.
My First Felting Experiments
Based on some tips I got from Nanea, I decided to experiment with some animal fiber I had at home. I’m not sure where the yarn came from, all of it in single skeins. I think I got them from Lion Brand when I did a project for them (it’s published as their “Outside-the-Lines Purse.” You have to register at Lion Brand to view the pattern) I started with a cashmere-merino wool-nylon blend. I wasn’t sure if it would felt since it had nylon in it, but it was only 14%, so I decided to try it, knitting up a little swatch to see what would happen.
I filled up about a quarter of my kitchen sink (it’s one of those sinks that’s divided in half, so I actually have 2 sinks) with hot water, added a little dish detergent, slapped on the Playtex gloves, and started swishing the swatch around in the water and rubbing it gently. Ok, nothing’s happening, I thought, after about 5 minutes of swishing and rubbing, so I ran the swatch under cold water, then reintroduced it into the hot water, swished and rubbed some more. And … lo and behold, the thing started to felt before my very eyes!
I was so delighted that I decided to knit up a larger piece in stockinette stitch, add a single crochet border, then sew up the sides to create a little purse. Then I felted it like I did the swatch, let it dry, and added a cute little shank button. Here it is along with another knit purse that’s only 50% wool (and 50% acrylic). That barely felted at all. And you can tell these yarns were given to me; I rarely buy reds and oranges, but I’m not complaining; after all, the yarn was free.
I have to say that the experience of felting by hand DID feel good. It was soothing in a way that’s hard to describe. I also got a thrill from using animal fibers. We crocheters love our acrylic yarns, and I have to admit, I’ve been a little reluctant to try out the animal fibers. But when I started working with the cashmere/wool blend and other types of wool, it felt SO good working with them, like petting your cat or dog while crocheting and knitting. I’m hooked now; not to say I would never use acrylic yarns again, but I will definitely be trying out more animal fibers.
I found some more yarn, a skein of Lion Brand Bolero, which is a very thick wool that has the feel of hand spun yarn. Again, I knit a square in garter stitch with stockinette stitch in the middle, sewed up the sides to create a purse, then felted it in the sink.
You can still see the individual stitches in this piece, probably because the yarn is so thick. And I was thinking I should have done an I-cord handle instead of a crocheted one, which turned out a little wobbly, but I figured it’s ok. These are experiments to see how different yarns felt, not necessarily an attempt to create a perfect project.
Felting and Shrinkage
The other thing about felting that Nanea told me and that I discovered in these experiments is that when you felt, the piece will shrink more vertically (about 25-30%) than horizontally (10-15%). I decided to sew up the cast-on/off sides of the purse because I figured it would shrink too much to sew the other way. Here are the before and after photos of this little Bolero purse.
Now I figure I’m ready to do a larger piece, so I went back to Aloha Yarn a couple of days later and signed up for a felting knit class, figuring I’d learn how to do it with a knitted project, then progress to crochet. I also bought a book called Knit It, Felt It, selected a project and purchased yarn for it.
I’ll tell you ALL about it in my next post as well as the crocheted felting experiments I conducted, so stay tuned!!