Thursday, January 07, 2010


Anne left a comment asking what felting is. Thanks, Anne, for your comment and compliments on the patterns! Since I couldn't reply via e-mail (why does Blogger do that?) I hope it's OK I answer your question with a post.

I have to begin by saying I am certainly no expert, just someone who has read a lot of knitting books and magazines and watched Bev Galeskas make a princess hat on Knitty Gritty.

Felting is where a knitter takes a lot of time to knit something with wool yarn, usually using needles 2-3 sizes larger than normal, and then sticks it in hot water, agitates it so there's lots of heat and friction, and gets something much smaller, thicker, and no longer totally recognizable as knitting.

This works because wool, being a natural fiber, has scales that open up with the heat and friction and rub and stick together, kind of like cockleburrs. It's the exact same thing that happens when we rat our hair.

(Can you tell I came of age in the '80s? Does anyone rat their hair any more? Oh the ratting and Aqua Net that went on in the girls' bathroom after P.E.! It's a wonder we don't all have lung disease from the hairspray we inhaled.)

It's also possible to create felt just from raw wool roving. I think that's how felt was made in the olden days (or, I guess, still today for commercial felt). This yields flat fabric that can be cut and sewn.

Knitted items that are felted become very thick, warm, and nearly water-proof because the thick wool fabric repels water.

Felted garments popular today are slippers, mittens, and shaped hats. Knitters also like to make felted handbags because the felt fabric is more stable and strong than typical knitted fabric; it won't stretch out of shape or wear holes as easily.

I think that about covers it--let me know if i've answered your questions, Anne.

And--does anyone have any good felting tips, tricks, or favorite patterns?

1 comment:

Anne said...

Hi Dana,
Thanks for your repsonse. I have wasted no time. I paid for a shoe pattern and received PDF instructions in my email box within 2hrs. How cool is that!!!
I have also tracked down a UK internet supplier for the wool and have ordered 8884 Claret and found some Italian (I just had to have them)buttons to match. I am now eagerly waiting for the postman but don't know when he will be able to get through.
Here in England we are in the grip of a severe cold spell. The news tells us that we are even colder here than at the South Pole. Here in Hampshire we are in the worst of the weather. We have been snowed in
since Wednesday with more bad weather expected.
I will let you know how the slipper go.