How to FeltBy Rachel Choi – 8 Comments
Felting is the process of agitating something made with natural animal fibers under heat to create a matted fabric called felt. Lots of crafters, crocheters and knitters, enjoy felting their projects to give them a new and different look. By felting your work, you create a smooth texture, erasing stitch definition and reducing the size of the finished object. A felted project is often times stronger and sturdier than before it was felted. Felting is a really easy process!
Although there are many techniques for felting, the basic idea is to agitate your item in hot water and let it dry. Here are some common methods to consider.
Method 1: Washing Machine
The most popular and easiest way to agitate your work is to toss it into the washing machine. Make sure you are using hot water and that you don’t let the washer reach the spin cycle. Set your washer to a normal setting and let your item get swished around in the hot water. To not waste water, set the water level as low as possible just enough to submerge your item. You may choose to place your item in a pillow case or other small enclosure to make sure your washer doesn’t get too mess. Optionally, to increase the amount of agitation you may toss in another item, such as an old pair of jeans. You should check your work about every 5 – 10 minutes to make sure that it is felting properly. As you get more experienced, you will have a better estimate of how long something will take to felt.
Method 2: Felt by Hand
Felting by hand can be tiring, unless you are up for a good workout. Depending on the size of your item you can felt in a bowl, bucket, sink or even in the bathtub. Fill your area with hot water and place your item inside. Now get creative and agitate your item in the water. If you are using a small container, you can shake it vigorously. If you are using a sink or tub, you can use a tool such as a clean plunger to swish your item around. The more agitation and the hotter the water, the faster your item will felt.
Despite what method you choose a good sign it is done felting is when you can’t see the stitches in your work anymore. But fell free to stop agitating when the item looks as you desire. After agitating, it is time to let it dry. Gently squeeze out as much water as possible and lay to dry. Often times you will want to block your work. Blocking crochet and other items is really easy, just set your item into the finished shape your desire and let it dry.
Notes and Tips
- Felting only works for natural animal fibers such as wool, alpaca, mohair, etc.
- Before felting your item, try felting a swatch of the yarn you used first to see how it felts and how much it will shrink.
- Don’t burn yourself in the hot water!
- Make sure your ends are tucked in your finished item very securely before felting it.
- If you use a washing machine, try to keep the lid open if possible. Because some machines will run and stop before the spin cycle, just like you want it to.
- Set a timer to help you remember to check your felting.
- Different yarns and even yarns of the same brand but different color can felt at different rates, so be patient.
- You can’t un-felt something but you can felt it more if needed.
- Periodically check to make sure that parts of your work that aren’t suppose to felt together aren’t; such as purse straps or pockets.
If you have a felting tip or method that you want to share, feel free by leaving it as a comment!