Felting perfect for beginning crocheters and quick gifts. This fun manipulation of wool yarn is also a fabulous way to create a dense crochet fabric. My favorite part of felting is watching a loosely crocheted project transform into a solid and soft fabric.
Interweave Crochet Assistant Editor Sarah Read joins us to walk us through the felting process.
Felting with Sarah
Felting, or technically “fulling,” in this case, is the art of using heat, moisture, and agitation to enmesh the scales of animal fibers, creating a unique and useful fabric. It’s best when done on purpose.
While felting by accident usually requires no effort at all, doing it on purpose requires a few simple tools and steps.
If you have a top-loading washing machine, you can felt your item by placing it in a pillowcase and washing it with a warm load of laundry, checking it frequently to make sure it does not get over-shrunk. The pillowcase is key, as the item will shed surprising amounts of fibers that can clog and damage your machine. Putting the pillowcase in the wash with other items will help increase the agitation, and therefore the speed, of the felting process.
Front load washers can also be used to felt, but their door-locking mechanisms often don’t allow for checking on the item mid-wash, so there is a risk of over-felting and shrinking the item beyond what you had intended.
The fastest way to felt anything is to ask another member of your household to do the laundry.
The most controlled way of felting an item is to do it by hand. I highly recommend this method, especially if your project is designed to fit something and needs to be a specific size.
I’m working on making the Marbled eCover from Interweave Crochet Fall 2012, and since I want it to fit my friend’s Kindle, I’ll need to make sure I felt it to the finished measurements.
The first step? Yep. Sorry. SWATCH. You’re going to need to get to know how your specific yarn changes in the felting process, in order to know what to expect in your finished item!
I’ll demo the felting process on my swatch here.
You’ll need: your swatch, a big container of rather warm water, some gentle soap, and something to agitate with (like a wooden spoon or potato masher). I also like to wear gloves for the process, as it can be a little rough on your hands.
I’ve made a wee square in the yarn called for in the pattern, Cascade 200. Take a detailed measurement of your swatch, and write it down.
Immerse your swatch in the warm, soapy water, and start agitating it. A lot. For a while. Check on it frequently and take a few measurements from time to time, to see if you are getting a nice fabric and to check the change in measurement.
When it’s looking fairly solid, and your individual stitches are no longer visible, you’re done! Lay the swatch out and let it dry completely, then take some new measurements and note the amount of shrink that occurred in order to get the finished fabric. This is especially important if you’re using a yarn different from the one called for in the pattern, as different yarns will shrink and felt at different rates, and you may need to adapt your pattern to adjust for this.
When you are felting your finished item, take measurements frequently enough to assure you are not felting beyond the finished measurements, and you will need to pin or mold your item to the finished size as it dries. For hats, you will need to make or use a head form; for this eCover, I’ll be wrapping a square of cardboard wrapped in plastic wrap. Enjoy your felting!
Now it's your turn. Create your own project or gift through the magic of felting. Or order and instantly download Crocheted Gifts: Irresistible Projects to Make and Give for more great quick gift ideas.
P.S. What are your best felting tips?
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