Felted Mittens

10 Oct

I’ve never done any felting before, so this is my first felted knitting project.   There are three key elements to felting – you need 100% wool yarn, hot water, and the knitted object will be very large, since the process of felting shrinks the fibers.  This  may explain what happened to that wool sweater that came out of the wash machine half it’s size, and all fuzzy.

As you can see, the mittens I knit might fit the likes of Paul Bunyan.  This was not a mistake!

I used my top loader washing machine to felt the mittens, while consulting this tutorial on knitty.com.  The key steps to setting up were:

  • 1 Tablespoon of soap
  • Wash machine set to:
    • smallest load setting
    • hottest water setting
    • highest agitation setting (heavy duty, heavy soil, etc)
  • Mesh bag or pillow case to collect extra fuzz

I was all set up.

Once the wash machine had finished filling, and started the wash cycle, I set a timer to check the progress in five minutes.  I was surprised to see that the felting and shrinking had already begun.  Here’s what they looked like at the five minute mark:

I threw them back in, turned back the machine setting to the beginning of the wash cycle to prevent it from moving into the rinse cycle, and waited another five minutes.  Here was the progress after another five minutes:

Even though it was pretty close in size, I wanted the fibers to felt more, so I decided to let it go for another five minutes, knowing I could stretch and reshape the shrunken mittens while they were still wet.  Here was the result on my hand after the final 5 minutes (a total of 15 minutes of agitation):

This seemed good to me, so I went ahead and drained the soapy water, and let cold water start to fill the machine for the rinse cycle.  I stopped the machine once there was enough cold water to cover the mittens and swished the mittens around to get the soap out.  It’s important to stop the machine at this point, because I didn’t want any more agitation to occur.  After this, I skipped the machine setting forward to the spin cycle to remove the excess water.  I pulled out my mittens, and did some final shaping to them before laying them out to dry.  Here’s the final result:

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