knit*therapy

on knitting and healing and other stuff

Wool and Water: Adventures in Felting

“Wool and Water”How it Began: Last March I had a gauge disaster of alarming proportions. The Tasseled Ski Hat from Vogue Knitting Hats to Go became inspired, while in progress, by some side reading I was doing in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears. Apparently, I was completely taken with her enthusiasm for knitting loosely. The hat, supposed to be a dainty 22″ circumference, ended up 26″. Before you say it — yes, I swatched. I was even knitting with the pattern-prescribed yarn. I was just moved by the spirit of EZ to knit ever looser as I went along.

Luckily, it was my first venture into the world of natural fibers — Patons Classic Wool. I had been saving myself for “nicer yarn” until my knitting was better. (I had not read the Yarn Harlot yet, obviously. Now SP-M shares the heroine’s crown with EZ.) I read up on the felting process and decided that it worth a try, as frogging the seed-stitched pattern would have been a pain, and wearing a giant red wool bag on my head was not an attractive option. So into the washer it went. And it came out like this:redfeltedhat.jpg

The next felting project was intentional. I made the small felted bag with flap from Felted Knits. I just switched the yarn and used Lopi. It came out looking pretty good, but rather lo-o-o-ng. So I cut off the bottom and made a matching coin purse. (And I thought, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I even THOUGHT of making a freakin’ coin purse! My grandma used to give me coin purses* when I was little and I thought they were dorky then! I AM AN OLD LADY!”) Here’s the first small felted bag (& coin purse):jensbags.jpg * Coin purses: Remember the little rubber ones banks and gas stations used to give away? They had little bead-chains attached, so you could use them as key chains. Theoretically, anyway — those little bead-chains always broke. And you could pinch your tiny fingers in the clasp.

I made a boatload of those little bags last year, in Lamb’s Pride and Noro Kureyon. Lamb’s Pride felts super fast compared to Lopi. Noro is in the middle. The Noro pic is a before and after. nellsbag.jpgbabesbags.jpg

Somewhere in the midst of bag-making, I wanted to learn to make socks. My wonderful knitting chica, Trish, the One Skein Secret Pal, sent me Socks Soar… and suggested I start with an oversized sock to learn the basics. I made the felted boots from that book with Lopi, and intend to needle felt them one of these days. It took FOREVER for these guys to melt down properly. feltedboots.jpg

[It’s about now that I’m getting REALLY ANNOYED that I can’t make the text and pix flow together in more aesthetically pleasing way.]

The latest felting project is this Felted Cloche from Knit One, Felt Too. The flower pattern is from One Skein Wonders, but it fell apart in the wash and I ended up just cutting and sewing the pieces. This picture shows the hat with a pair of mitts (not felted) I made to go with it (wish I’d done those in the darker contrast color), and a neckwarmer (not felted). susanshat.JPG The yarn is Valley Yarns Berkshire for the hat and mitts. (Neckwarmer is Queensland Kathmandu Aran.) The Berkshire felts beautifully. 

2 Responses to “Wool and Water: Adventures in Felting”

  1. Darcy said

    Felting is so much fun. Well, felted items are fun to own. I don’t love standing in the basement by the washing machine for 45 minutes, but sometimes I can get my sweetie to do it for me because it feels like science to him and he loves science. I just wanted to say, though, I love the coin purse idea! How very inspired. New old ladies of the world, unite!

  2. Cymru Llewes said

    I’ve got some Valley Yarns Berkshire that I want to use to make http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEsummer05/PATTsatchel.html . I knit a gauge swatch and put it through the washer twice but I can still see light through it. As this is going to be for 14 year old’s school bag, it needs to be waterproof so no holes. I was using a US 13 needle for the swatch. Should I go down a needle size or put the swatch through the washer again? I looked through Ravelry but couldn’t see anything that was helpful so I decided to Google and you came up on the first page of results on felting berkshire.

    Thank you.

    Cymru Llewes

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