Mmmm … It Felt SO Good!

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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.

felting
Cashmerino swatch that I knit and then felted.

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!

felting
I knitted the red felted bag in cashmerino; the multi-colored bag is a 50-50 wool-acrylic blend.

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.

Lion Brand Bolero
Lion Brand Bolero wool purse ready for felting

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.

Lion Brand Bolero
Felted Lion Brand Bolero wool purse

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.

What’s Next?

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!!

I've been crocheting for over 40 years and blogging since 2004 - two of my favorite things in the world to do besides walking the beaches of windward Oahu, Hawaii.

3 comments On Mmmm … It Felt SO Good!

  • I’m sick! I couldn’t find the place when I was there. And you live 5 minutes away? Watch out.;-)
    Good on you for learning how to felt!
    If you have a top loading machine (the thinking woman’s washing machine), the process becomes easier. I enjoy doing the laundry slightly more now.LOL

  • Hey Sahara! Well, you’ll just have to come back for a visit to check out Aloha Yarn. It’s tucked up on the second level of a little strip mall on Kamehameha Hwy, next to the post office. My next post will be about my first attempt at felting in the washing machine and hopefully some photos from the shop.

  • Go ‘head with your bad felting self. I just can’t get with all the beautiful stitching and then distressing it in the form of “felting”. LOL. Maybe when I am done with school, have beau coup time to devote to crotcheting and knitting; then I’ll get the point of felting it up.
    Your work is so pretty though.

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