Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Felting is Fun...? UPDATE: Felting IS fun!

I have never felted before. It's a pretty cool process--basically taking some knitted stuff (out of wool,) and washing it so the fibers all stick together and make, well, felt. It's technically called fulling, but if you google that you won't get any results because everyone calls it felting. 

I'm knitting this hat in my insatiable desire for a proper cloche, which i refuse to buy on principle or because they're all expensive or uncomfortable or something. But I'm a little scared, because this is what the hat is supposed to look like:
And this is what the hat does look like:

It's extraordinarily enormous. Felting/fulling is supposed to make things a lot smaller, and i certainly trust the Anticraft for the pattern, which I followed pretty closely. But this hat is huge. Really, really big.  It's a foot tall and has a thirty inch diameter at the brim. 

We shall see how this turns out. 


Felting is ridiculously fun. My favorite thing about knitting is that it's taking something very raw and simple, yarn, and doing a series of actions that seem to have no connection to each other or the goal, and creating something useful and beautiful that is completely different from what you started with. This is like that but MORE, because once you have that beautiful, useful final thing, you change it more, so you can't see the connection between the first thing and the last thing even a little bit. It's absolutely magical.

I followed this wonderful tutorial from knitty, everybody's favorite knitting e-zine, and it worked really well. I already knew the general process of felting, but I had an idea that it was probably more complicated than just throwing it in the washing machine, which it most certainly was.

A lot of tutorials said to put it in a pillowcase, which i did, to keep all the little fuzzies from getting all over the washing machine and destroying the entire plumbing system. The hat fell out of the pillow case pretty quickly, so that was unsuccessful. I definitely recommend using a zippered pillow case or pinning the top closed if you decide to do this, because getting all the lint out of the machine basin is quite difficult.

The tutorial I used said to check it every five or ten minutes, which I did, but it's probably not entirely necessary. I just fangirled over it. Look! It's so pretty!
It's still enormous in that picture, but less enormous. And as it starts felting, the yarn i used (Lamb's Pride, I believe, which has some really lovely mohair in it,) gets all fluffy and wonderful. 
So fluffy and wonderful. 
I only put it through one wash cycle, because it seemed to be a pretty reasonable size. (spoiler alert, it wasn't.)

The most difficult part about the specific tutorial I used was that it required a pretty in-depth knowledge of washing machine cycles, which I do not have. Because of this, the hardest part was the rinsing. There was this whole thing about taking it out before the spin cycle, but putting it in the rinse cycle, but not letting it be agitated in the rinse cycle. But the spin cycle comes before the rinse cycle, and you have to get all the lint out of the water before the spin cycle, but the waters really hot and full of soap and poison and you can't put your hands in it because they might burn or fall of or something. And once you do get the hat out, you're just holding this dripping wet mop of wool in your hand and standing in front of your washing machine while it does some horrifying thing, and you have no idea what to do. 

It was a very exhilarating experience. I just set it down on a plastic bag on top of my dryer until it finished the spin cycle, and then the rinse cycle didn't seem to be doing much, so i disrupted the normal cycle of my washing machine to set it to 2nd rinse, and that filled the basin up nicely so I could dunk the hat in to get all the soap out like the tutorial said. 
This is the dangerous part of felting. I was dunking the hat into the water, just like it told me to, and it was filling up with this freezing, freezing water which was getting all polluted with little fuzzies, and I was like, "Hm, I wonder what happens when the washing machine fills up"

At that point, as I was grabbing a little fuzzy off of the spinny thing in the middle, the machine decided it was as full as it wanted to be and the spinny thing started freaking out and nearly chopped my hand off. At this point, I freaked out and stared at my hat in the agitating rinse cycle, knowing full well it shouldn't be there, and waved my arms around for a while until i figured out that I could stop the machine, just as I had done at least six other times during the process. It was pretty terrifying, but I'm ok. 

The tutorial said that a lot of people didn't put it in for the final spin cycle, but I did, and nothing bad happened to it. It seemed to be dry enough after that and my wringing it out some, so i got really excited and put it on and ran upstairs to look in the mirror. However, it wasn't dry enough, so it started dripping everywhere and I had to run back downstairs to hold it over the washing machine. I put it in the dryer for two or three seconds, because it was a little bit big anyways, and then took it out, put it back on my head, and ran back upstairs to see how it looked. 
The same thing happened, but I ignored it because I really wanted to take a picture:

Much better than the picture I posted yesterday, huh? Still a bit too big though. But it's so fuzzy and beautiful
After having water drip everywhere and all over me, I ran it back downstairs and put it in the dryer for a very small amount of time--two, maybe four minutes. It got smaller enough that I'm happy with it, so i tried it on one more time...
Then I decided it wasn't quite 1920's magazine enough, so i moved it around and blocked it a little bit...
And decided I was happy with that. I stuffed it with some plastic bags to hold its shape and set it to dry on a towel on top of my dryer. The tutorial says to put hats over a head shaped bowl, but I wasn't sure how my mother would feel about me comandeering a kitchen implement to help sculpt a shedding, fuzzy, wet piece of wool. Parents don't understand sometimes. 

It currently weighs about a million pounds because of the water, and I haven't figured out if i'm going to decorate it with a simple ribbon or an applique, but I love it to death. 

Knitters, if you haven't tried felting, go get some wool and try it right now. 

Pattern courtesy of The Anticraft, Flowers on  Grave. http://theanticraft.com/archive/samhain05/flowersonagrave.htm. The Anticraft is my favorite knitting website. It's very sacreligious and a little bit inappropriate, but it's my favorite and you should go buy their books and read their e-zine. 

Tutorial Courtesy of Knitty, Felt This!http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter03/FEATfelthis.html. Knitty is my other favorite knitting website. It's super classy but also a lot of fun, and less NSFW. 

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