Fun with Felting

I am making felted mittens this winter, for friends and family. Even I will score a pair at some point. I got my first pair done yesterday, and sent them off to Montreal today with Ana. Now she has warm mittens that are just right for ice skating.

Every felted project I've made so far has been quick to make, when compared to the average knitted project. You create items using thicker yarns on thicker needles, so they need fewer stitches and rows and they knit up fast. These mittens, size women's medium, were only 36 stitches around in the cuff and body. The men's mittens I am working on now are only 40 stitches around. That means I can knit most of a mitten in an evening. Almost instant gratification!

Here are the mittens before felting. Yeah, they are big! Ana had a blast putting them on and scuttling sideways, making Dr. Zoidberg noises. They were knit from a pattern in Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas. The pattern is brilliant, using short-rowing to create extra fabric over the back of the hand, allowing for a better fit due to the loss of elasticity after felting. You can see this in the strips on the body of the mitten - the stripes on the back of the hand (shown on the right) are wider than the stripes on the palm (shown on the left).

The orange yarn had to be used for a project for Ana, because she and I dyed this yarn with koolaid. The yarn is left over from some felted slippers I made for her a few years ago. So this project also is a stash reduction project.

The easiest way to felt is to toss the knitted items into the washing machine. You use hot water, just a smidge of laundry detergent, low water setting, and the most vigorous agitation your machine can muster. The mesh bag was intended to capture loose wool fibers, but it didn't work well. I need to get a zipper pillow case for felting use. All the wool fibers that are knocked loose during agitation are not so good for the washing machine.

Every 5 to 10 minutes, you check the item for size. It's shrinking!

They've shrunk to size! Time to rinse, and remove all the foam from the washing machine.

Drying on wooden spoons on top of the wood stove. Bonus items! You get to see a couple of pots that I made back in my clay days.

Here is a close-up of the felted fabric. It looks a lot different from the original knit mittens. It's now hard to distinguish individual stitches. The fabric is also no longer stretchy. Anyone with a wider hand than Ana's will not be able to put these on easily.

This second pair ofr mittens, plus a pair of socks, will be going to friends and neighbors who are extraordinarily generous to us. They help us keep our driveway plowed, give us venison and pork, and cut firewood for us on shares. Some handknits seem like the least we can do to say thank you. These mittens came out very nicely - very thick and fuzzy. The wool is undyed - natural sheepy brown.


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