Monday, January 23, 2006
HOW TO FELT OR FULL
What you need:
Top loading washer
2 pair old jeans
Large pot or bowl
The wool needs to be NOT superwash in order for it to felt. You can also felt with yarns that have a bit of non natural fiber, but not much. You can carry along a strand of novelty yarn with your wool.
If you don't know a yarn is feltable, then you need to knit a swatch and test it. If the yarn label says wash by hand and dry flat you can be pretty sure it will felt. BELIEVE ME, when I say SWATCH if you don't know if the yarn is feltable.
Some yarns that I like for felting are:
Peruvian Wool of the Andes from KnitPicks.com
Peruvian Highland wool from Elann.com
Paton's Classic Merino
Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool
Items to be felted need to be worked at a loose gauge. For worsted weight I use size 10.5 or 11 knitting needles, for crocheted items I use a I hook.
You'll need to place the item in a zippered pillowcase, or a regular one that is tied tightly shut. I've used a regular pillow case and closed it with a ponytail elastic. But it is inconvenient, as you need to open the pillow case to check felting progress. BELIEVE ME, when I say you need to use the pillow case, there will be lots of loose fibers and they can clog the pump on your washer.
You are going to need a couple pair of old jeans to increase the agitation action. Best is to use dark jeans for dark colors, use light ones when felting light colors. This is ideal, mostly I just use the same two pair of old jeans with all my felting.
Okay you knitted or crocheted your soon to be felted item. Now set your washer: lowest water level, hottest water, hardest agitation settings. While it is filling add a very small amount of detergent, this can be dish washing liquid (not dish washer type) or liquid laundry detergent. BELIEVE ME, a very small amount. You only need enough to break the surface tension of the yarn.
Set a big pot or bowl by your washer, because when you take the item out to check it, it is hot and wet. Now toss in the jeans and your project in the zippered pillow case. Set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off your washer and check your item. It probably won't have felted much the first 5 minutes. But once it starts it can change fast. Reset your washer to the beginning of the wash cycle, reset the timer for 5 minutes and repeat. It takes my washer about 20 minutes to felt things down enough that you don't see the individual stitches any longer. ABSOLUTELY don't let the washer spin. Spinning can make creases and once you have them you have them forever. BELIEVE ME, when I say don't let the washer spin.
Once the stitches in your item don't show individually take the item to a sink where you can rinse it in cold running water. This is to get the detergent out and "set" the wool. Then place the item on an old towel and roll up. Allow it to rest for a few minutes. Then if it still seems very wet repeat the wrap and rest step.
I usually block my item on a box, that I've wrapped in a plastic bag. It should fit the box tightly, it should be a struggle to get the bag stretched over the box. You can also block by stuffing with plastic bags, or towels. But you won't get a nice squared off look with the bags or towels. Hats, I block over a bowl or flower pot. I have a pot I've had since the 70s that is the perfect size and shape. Once you have the box (bowl, pot, bags or towels) in your project set it on a folded towel. Change the towel when it becomes damp.
Some patterns require no blocking, those I just dry by laying on a folded towel.
It may take several days to dry completely. Once the item seems dry on the outside and the towel is no longer getting very damp, take out the blocking material to speed drying.
Now enjoy your bag, tote, hat or whatever.
Beth in Richmond, VA
PS - i went to HS in Renton for 3 yrs -- a long time ago!
Joanna Floats Knits & Purls
thanks again...I have been looking at your patterns, as you post on one of my groups..you are talented!!!