Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Act Of Felting

Yesterday, I spent some more time on prototypes of the fingerless gloves. I've sewn several pairs for myself that fit very well and am transferring that information to a system that will allow me - you - us - to draft customized gloves when the arm/hand is present, customized gloves when working with a set of measurements, and gloves that are based on standardized sizes for when you have a rough idea of size but no specific measurements. I'm making progress.

Once I've figured out sizing, I want to illustrate the different methods using knit fabrics, stretch wovens, and felted materials such as old sweaters along with variations on the theme. Ideally - in the end - I'll end up with a booklet of possibilities.

I knit this sweater four or five years ago and have worn it twice so the last time I cleaned my closet I opted to recycle it. My friend Patti taught me how to felt on her Baby Lock Embellisher machine and then let me bring it home with me. I felted around the seams on the sweater to prevent the knit stitches from unraveling and then cut it apart around the armhole, shoulder, collar, and underarm seams to keep as many big pieces as possible.

I felted the pieces once, washed them in hot water, felted them twice again, washed them in hot water, and then felted them again. I debated doing them once more only I'm not noticing a significant difference so there seems to be a maximum felting point which may be contributed to by the fact that this is a wool blend as opposed to 100% wool. Some info I read yesterday indicating that a sweater needs to be at least 80% wool seems to support that fact. Good to know.

The sweater fabric is felted sufficiently to hold. The knitting stitches are visible but felted together and don't run when pulled. The fabric is softly firm if that makes any sense. It'll make lovely fingerless gloves.  I'd like to make at least two pairs, one for myself and one for a friend to go with the purple scarf I'm knitting her for Christmas, and hopefully more since I can use the felting machine to "stitch" together remnants although I'll need to return it sometime soon. So far, I've enjoyed the possibilities I see in the felted fabric but can't see myself wanting one of these machines. The actual act of felting is incredibly boring unless you're adding details rather than felting yardage. It's great for playing but for this purpose I'd rather buy the fabric or felt old sweaters in the washing machine.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - being trusted with a friend's machine


  1. I'll be following your felting endeavors with interest, as I have a huge trunk and several baskets full of felted wool and enjoy seeing your creations. I was obsessed with felting for awhile (you can probably guess that from the previous sentence) but was not so successful at creating things from the wool.

    I have a question maybe you can answer: would the machine felting process be durable enough to hold pieces of felted material together for quilt blocks? My guess is, for long-term use, no, but your opinion would be more educated than mine. If it would be durable enough, that would be an option to look into, as seams in felted fabrics can be bulky.

    1. LOL - you have WAY more experience than I do. I've only been playing with this for two weeks.... which means I don't really have an answer to your question except I'm going to run an experiment, felt two pieces together, see how the join lies, and yank on it to see what happens. I'll let you know tomorrow.


  2. I have knit projects to specifically felt them, things like slippers, and small bags and bowls, and I have also felted some already knit things just to use them as fabric. I just wanted to point out that if you are going to do a fair bit of felting by running knitted wool in your regular home washing machine, that it is a good idea to contain said wool in something, as the process does cause excess small wool fibers from the yarn to come loose into the wash water. While this does not cause problems with the other garments in the laundry, if any, those wooly fibers can end up downstream in the tubes and pumps inside your washing machine, where they can really clog things up, and more than once have caused a pump motor to burn out! Folks that do a lot of machine felting suggest that you enclose pre-felted things inside a closed cloth pillowcase or suchlike, just to keep everything safe. What I have done in the past is to take an old pillowcase put whatever I am felting inside and simply baste the open end closed on my sewing machine. Of course, if you are doing hand felting in the sink, any excess fibers will not be a problem

    1. GOOD information to know. A bit late for all the fluff that's already been in the washing machine but not too late going forward. I'll get a pillow case for washing in. Thanks for letting me know. I've been scooping out the fluff to use in embellishment though. I have some purple and orange and green fluff. VERY pretty. .


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.