Saturday, March 9, 2013

Adventures in Felting!

I tried felting for the first time!

Bag before felting. Cat shown for scale. 
If you're unfamiliar with felting, here's how it works. You knit an item. It has to be quite a bit bigger than the finished product will be because it'll shrink. Then, you have to do what you should not normally do with 100% wool--wash it in a washing machine and agitate the heck out of it. The result is that the yarn will blend together into a solid, flat material.

It's great for bags, for example, because if you just knitted a bag, the yarn would give quite a bit and you might have things poking through. Plus, the bag would snag easily.

Bag after felting. 
On the other hand, felting is quite a process. Sane people buy felted material and sew it together. Knitters, however, hand knit an item and then run it through the washing machine several times before it resembles a finished product. I like the look of felted things, but there's something odd about taking so much time to create something that doesn't show the work you've done. In other words, I doubt people will know that I knitted this bag.

"I can put so much crap in here!"
As for this specific project, it was easy to knit but time-consuming and so simple I got really bored. I really like the slanted pockets. On the other hand, I do not like the short strap. I thought it was going to be a cross-body bag, but it's too short for that. I would probably need an extra 6-8 inches (that's what she said). I'm actually thinking of making another bag just like this one but with a longer strap. 

One thing I did, which everyone says you should absolutely not do, is to let it run through a spin cycle. Gasp!

I went to a friend's house (thanks, Ruth!) to use her washer because the ones at my apartment complex lock. I put it through the wash cycle three times but no spin. When I left her place, it needed just a little more felting (and even now it could probably use another wash), but I thought maybe I could do it by hand. When I got home, I instead threw caution to the wind and washed it with my regular laundry and let it go through a spin cycle. I didn't end up with any weird creases or anything, and it was a heck of a lot drier than it would have been without the spin. Maybe I got lucky. 

Honestly, it probably still needs another wash or two before it's 100% felted, but it's good enough for me. At any rate, this might be my favorite knitting project I've done!

Get the pattern here.


Erika said...

Dude! I like. I need one of those. :)

Domestic Kate said...

Well, I could make you one. Do you have a color preference? I'd offer you this one (when I get around to making another for me), but I think my friend who lent me her washer should get first dibs. Do you recognize the yarn?

Erika said...

That would be great! I was actually thinking about crocheting something similar. (of course that would take awhile since I still haven't learned to crochet. lol) --The yarn looks familiar, is that what you used for the neck thingy you sent me (sorry, don't remember proper name)? If you'd like to make me one, browns would be cool, or greens. :D

Domestic Kate said...

Yep, same yarn. I'll be on the lookout for some good yarn for yours then.

Laura said...

Wow, that's really pretty. You are such an awesome knitter (and felter). I'm impressed by your projects. The only thing I've ever felted was a sweater and it was an accident, as in, oops, I just ruined that wool sweater. Oh well.

P.S. You made me laugh for getting a "that's what she said" joke into a post about knitting. :)

Domestic Kate said...

Hi, Laura. Yep, a lot of people have found out the hard way how felting works. You can also felt in the dryer, which is how I think a lot of people accidentally felt things. Funny how when you actually want to felt something, it takes so much effort!

"That's what she said" ranks #2 in my favorite gags; number #1 is "Your mom."

Laura said...

Actually, when I read what you wrote about some people buying felted material and sewing it together, I was thinking maybe I could repurpose my sweater. It's a minor detail that I don't yet know how to sew well enough, but I'll get there one day. :)

Domestic Kate said...

I can't sew at all. I've barely even been near a sewing machine! I don't see why you couldn't repurpose the sweater, though. I suppose you'd have to felt it thoroughly before attempting to cut it or take out the seams.