Monday, June 12, 2006

Adventures in felting

For anyone who doesn't already know, felting is the process of abusing wool to make felt. There are a couple of different ways you can do it, one involving needles that sounds like something out of a horror movie. My preferred method of felting is to knit up whatever I want to felt and then do something that makes everyone who has ever shrunk a sweater shudder in horror -- wash it in hot water.

Up to this point the biggest thing I have felted is a 3"x4" test swatch, which turned out bee-yew-ti-fully. Who knew something bigger would be so much more complicated?

I finally finished the bag I have been working on forever last night about 10:30, so I decided to go ahead and felt it, thinking it would take 20 minutes or so and be done.

One rule of felting -- never leave it alone. Check on the work every five minutes or so, as you can see bleow

Complication 1 -- the pillowcase I had tied with the bag inside came untied and the strap of the bag wrapped itself around the agitator in my washing machine. When I caught it it was nicely felting into a twisted cord. So I stopped the process, unwound it, flattened it, put it back in the bag, and tied it tighter.

Complication 2 -- I wasn't paying attention and the washer emptied itself. So I had to restart he washer, refill it, and pay closer attention.

Complication 3 -- After the felting is finished, I had to rinse the bag in hot water. Unfortunately, my kitchen sink isn't big enough. So I had to let the washer empty AGAIN and refill it to rinse the bag. Nothing like bending over a washing machine holding a bag in the stream of very hot water coming from the spout in the back.

Complication 4 -- It never occurred to me how much water the wool would absorb, or how heavy wet wool is, or how much water it would drip. I had no plans on washing my laundry room floor last night, but today it's a whole heck of a lot cleaner than it was yesterday morning.

Complication 5 -- Apparently the smell of wet wool makes me nauseous. Who knew?

Complication 6 -- Blocking. You have to put something in the bag to make it dry the right shape, and I could not find anything. I ended up using an old Biology textbook wrapped in a plastic bag. See Mom and Dad, all that money for textbook wasn't wasted after all!

2 hours later, the finshed product is BEAUTIFUL. I love it. I'll post pics later after it is all dry and blocked, but I am very impressed with myself for creating it. I'm already planning for my next one. Go me!


Candace said...

I can't wait to see it Erin!!

Joy Morykon said...

erin can't wait to see it! i'm so excited for you!

kim said...

your bag turned out fabulous, i love it! great job erin. you've inspired me to finish the bag i've had sitting around for months that needs felting, thanks for the tips!