- Yarn -- It's important to start with good basics. That's why we use Cascade 220 and Pastaza. They yield consistent felting results. If you decide to try a yarn of your own, be sure not to use washable wool for felting.
- Color -- Darker colors felt faster and smaller than lighter colors
- Gauge -- A felting project must be knit more loosely than the yarn label calls for in order to felt properly. For example, Cascade 220 calls for a US size 7 needle for a gauge of 5 stitches per inch. We used a size 10 and had a gauge of 3.75 stitches per inch prior to felting.
- Add-Ins -- Sometimes we hold two yarns together to enhance the final look of the felt. This extra yarn will impact the size of the felt. For example, when compared to Cascade 220 felted alone, adding mohair will shrink the felt to create a smaller bag. Charming will increase the size slightly and Fizz will increase it by about 10%..
- Shape -- Color is not the only thing that
will impact the result of your felting. It is
important to understand how these three factors
will impact the speed and shape of your felting:
1. Large pieces felt faster than smaller pieces. For example, the purse may felt faster than your swatch.
2. Pieces felt more in the center than at the ends. Meaning a rectangular piece of knitting will felt to an hourglass shape.
3. Pieces shrink a lot more in length then in width. .
- Repairs -- One of the nice things about felting it that is hides any inconsistencies in tension. Felting does not, however, cover all evils. A small hole will probably not show, however you wil want to repair any major errors.
- Loose Ends -- What to do with your yarn ends? You can weave them in prior to felting. However, since we particularly dislike sewing in ends we just cut them to about 2 inches. Just make sure your last bind off stitch is pulled tight and that yarn changes are tied together in a square knot. Just cut them off after felting.
- Towels -- We recommend having a few large towels available. Checking your felting is a wet business.
- In the Bag -- Place your knitting in a fine mesh lingerie bag with a zipper before washing. The bag will protect the knitting and prevent too much wool fuzz from clogging your washing machine. Don't use a pillow case tied in a knot. You will need to check your felting during the process and it will be difficult to untie the pillow case when it is wet.
- Soap -- Use a small amount of mild laundry soap. This will help soften the fibers. We include some soap in your project for your convenience. You can also use a rinse-free wool wash.
- Water Temperatures -- Set the machine for hot. If you have lowered the temperature of the water heater to prevent scalding (i.e. for toddlers in the house) it may increase the felting time. Be careful! Since the water is very hot we use a wooden spoon to fish out the mesh bag from the machine, you can squeeze out some of the water on top of the agitator.
- Agitation -- The key to successful felting is
agitation. There are three components to this:
1. Machine Setting: Set the machine for heavy duty. You want a longer cycle so the project has time to felt before the spin and rinse cycles.
2. Water Level: Set the water level for low. This will increase friction.
3. Add-Ins: You will need to add a few items in the machine with the felting to add weight. Popular items include jeans, old sneakers and tennis balls.
- Time -- Felting can take anywhere from 5 minutes and up to 45 minutes for front loading machines. You must check the progress periodically to see how far it has felted. As mentioned darker pieces will felt much more quickly than lighter ones. When properly felted the material should feel solid, the stitches no longer show. Do not over felt or the project will shrink too much and the fabric with become too dense to work with well.
Managing Your Felting
- Time Out -- Life happens. Phone calls, children, and deliveries can all interfere with the important process of felting. Remember, it is the agitation that causes the felting. So just turn off the machine until you are ready to start again. You may have to add some hot water if too much time has passed.
- Checking -- Since the piece is knit in stockinette stitch the edges will roll and may stick during felting. This usually only happens with slower felting (lower temperatures or front load machines). When you check your progress make sure to unroll the edges.
- Machine Cycles -- You want to take the felting out before it enters the spin and rinse cycle.
- Rinsing -- Rinse the felted pieces in cool to warm water (unless you used a rinse free soap then skip this step). Roll in a towel to remove excess water.
- Shaping -- There is an opportunity to shape your felting while it is still wet. Pull it into shape right away. You may want to fold purses to mimic their final shape.
- Drying -- Lay flat to dry. You can dry in a sunny spot or over night. Dry completely before sewing.
Front Load Machines
Yes, you can felt using a front load machine. All the felting information above still applies you just have a few more considerations. If it is just too much to deal with you can always take your felting to a friend's house or the local laundry mat. The felting process in a top load should still take less than 20 minutes so you won't be there too long.
- Towels -- The towels are even more important here. Place one on the floor in front of the washing machine since the felt will really drip when you take it out.
- Water Temperature -- If your machine has a sanitary setting this may help decrease felting time.
- Pause? -- Check to see if you machine has a pause button. This will allow you to check the progress without emptying the machine.
- Cancel -- You may need to cancel the cycle so that the water drains and you start again. Remember it will take more time to felt -- there is just not the same amount of agitation in a front load machine -- so you may even have to run multiple cycles.