Posts Tagged ‘felting’

Part Eight: Felting

March 11, 2009

This is the awesome rebellious part where you get to do all the things that you’re always told not to do when working with wool.  Hot water?  Check.  Lots of soap?  Check.  Agitate?  Check.

My favourite felting method is how they make yurts in Mongolia.  They lay out a giant layer of leather on the ground, then cover it with whole, unwashed fleeces (the natural wool grease helps shed rain from the roof), pour on their boiling water, roll the whole thing up in the leather and trot it around behind a horse for a while.  Some day I’ll get to try it!

As was noted in the comments of ‘Designing’, I’m going to felt the cozy by hand instead of in the machine, in the hopes of a) getting it to felt more and b) losing less dye.  Everybody has their own method of felting knitted items.  Most people, I think, use the method I did for my swatch, which was simply to put it in the washing machine, set on hot.  I’ve read about people with a bucket full of tennis balls and hot soapy water, swooshing and stirring like madwomen with a giant wooden spoon.  I confess, the thought does rather appeal to me, except I don’t have any tennis balls.  Instead, I think I’ll just do it in the kitchen sink, similar to how I do my felting of straight non-knitted wool, just more water, since I don’t have to worry about it falling apart.

Materials: Rubber gloves (thick ones, to protect you from the boiling water), soap (plain ol’ dish soap works pretty well), a kettle or pot for boiling water in, a wool knitted (or crocheted) item.

Step One: Drizzle soap on item.  I had the brilliant idea of using a cutting board to raise the surface to a more back-friendly level while still allowing water to fall off and go in the sink, but . . . it wouldn’t stay put for me.

Drizzle Soap

Drizzle Soap

Step Two: Pour on boiling water.  Put pot/kettle back on heat so it stays warm.

Step Three: Agitate.  Squish it, scrunch it, roll it between your hands, roll it up in a sushi mat, rub it on an old-fashioned washboard, whatever.

Squooshing

Squooshing

Step Four: When you realize the water’s not hot any more, pour on some more.

Step Five: Stop and check the size every once in a while.  At first it will feel like nothing’s happening, then it will look fuzzy, and then you’ll think “hey, I think it’s getting smaller!” and then it will be too small.  I almost messed up here, but I stopped just in time!

It's Felting!

It's Felting!

Step Six: When it’s finally the right size (it takes about half an hour), squeeze out the water in a towel and mold it to the form you want.  Stuff it, lay it flat, drape it over a bowl, anything that will hold it in place until it’s dry.  It will hold some pretty complex shapes if you try hard enough.

Step Seven: Wait for it to dry.  Leave it in place until it really is all the way dry for it to hold the shape best.  Mine took pretty much 24 hours.

Drying

Drying

And now, at last, we are ready for Part Nine:  Testing!

Part Five: Swatch

March 6, 2009

At last, it’s time to make some real decisions about what this thing is going to look like!  But first things first:  a swatch.  I confess I’m usually pretty lazy about swatches.  I do about a 2″ square (about a quarter the size of what’s generally recommended), do a quick measure, unravel it, and cast on.  This time though, since I’m planning to felt the final product, I’m going to have to do a proper swatch.  Sigh.

Step One: Knit a square approximately 4×4″.  Measure it (and don’t forget to write down the measurements!).

Swatch Before

Swatch Before

Step Two: Put it through the laundry.  With other stuff, for two reasons:  because they will provide extra friction for felting purposes, and because it would be silly to waste all that water on one little swatch.

Swatch After

Swatch After

Step Three: Measure again.  Compare with size of original and prepare to do some designing math!