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Picture of How to felt a knitted piece
In this Instructable, I will show you how to take a knitted piece (with 100% wool yarn) and turn it into a funky felted bag. For any of you that love knitting, and have never felted before, you will see how easy this process it. It can add a whole new dimension to your knitted projects. Enjoy!
 
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Step 1: Beginning knitted piece

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To start, I knitted up a simple piece with 100% wool yarn. To felt things, you need to have 100% wool yarn, or it will not felt. To check this, look at the yarn wrapper. Most will say if they are for felting or not. You can't use Superwash wool yarn. This has been processed and will not felt.

For the handles on this bag, I used a garter stitch, and the main center part of the bag was done in a stockinette stitch.

One thing to remember with felting is that anything you felt will shrink, so you want to take that into consideration before knitting anything. The amount of shrinkage depends on how long you felt the piece.

Step 2: Add seams to the side of the bag

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I folded the piece in half and sewed a seam on either side to create a bag with more 100% wool yarn.

Step 3: The felting process

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Take the knitted piece and place it in a mesh wash bag. You can also use a zippered pillow case, and some people prefer to just put the piece itself in the washer. I personally like to use a bag because when the piece felts, the process does leave some residual remnants of yarn in the washing machine. The bag helps keep them contained and easily cleaned up.

There are two schools of thought about agitation - some like to just use the wash cycle agitation, but some people like to add elements to help the agitation. (i.e. tennis balls, an old pair of jeans, tennis shoes, etc.) I have tried both methods, and in this case, I choose not to use any additional materials, but rather just used the heavy wash cycle on my washing machine.

The settings on your washing machine should be the following:

Water level - the lowest setting

Water Temperature: Hot/Cold

Speed: Heavy

You will also need to add a small bit of soap (no more than a half teaspoon). The soap can be detergent used for delicate washing, or if you don't have that, you can use dish soap.

Step 4: Check on the felting process

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Once the felting process has begun, you will need to check the progress every five minutes or so. Since the washing machine is full of hot water, I suggest using a tongs to fish out the bag from the machine.

This process could take up to 20-25 minutes to complete. Keep turning back the wash cycle on your washing machine to continue felting.

Step 5: Completing the process

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Once you have determined that the piece is felted enough, let the machine drain out the water and start the spin cycle.

Be careful not to let the piece spin too long, or it will get permanent creases set into it. The spin cycle is mainly to help get most of the liquid out of the piece.

Step 6: Blocking process

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Once you have the piece out of the washing machine, you will need to block it into shape before allowing it to dry completely.

Put the piece flat on a towel and stretch or pull the piece into position. You can use pins to keep the piece in place during the drying process if you'd like.

As you can see, the piece is much smaller than it was originally. The stitches are no longer visible either.

Step 7: Finished Product!

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Once the piece is dry, you will need to do one final step before you can use your cool and funky bag!

The felting process will create a bunch of 'fuzzies' on the bag. To get rid of them, simply take a scissors, lightly pull up on the fuzzies and carefully snip them off. Be careful not to cut your felted bag in the process!

See! Felting is very easy and simple to do! I hope this encourages you to experiment with your knitting or crocheting projects. It can add a new dimension to all of your projects! To add even more fun, try mixing a fun non-wool yarn for added texture (like fun fur!) to your knitting. It won't felt with the rest of the yarn, but adds a really neat addition to your piece.

Enjoy and Happy Felting!
Gottwinkies4 years ago
Thanks fpr the basics on felting! I wanted to try it without having to follow a pattern, but I didn't know how much bigger to make things, Didn't realize size was a function of how long you washed it! Great instructable for do-it yourselfers lol

From my experience, the best way to calculate how much something will shrink is to make a sample swatch. Then use a length of contrasting non-wool thread/yarn to stitch around/mark a smaller block of stitches on the swatch, say, 20 stitches by 20 rows. Measure both dimension before washing/felting... (and write it down - I sometimes forget that part!), and then compare those to the measurements of the square (rectangle?) AFTER felting. It's not so critical for non-garments (like this bag) - but it's essential if finished size is important. Results can be so different for different types of yarn and even different colors of the same kind of yarn - dying/processing can cause the fibers to felt differently. (e.g. I've read that white yarn doesn't felt as well because it's been bleached - ??) I've found, in general, knitted fabric will shrink ABOUT one-half lengthwise and about one-third side-to-side (due to the way the yarn weaves up and down vs. side-to-side in a knit stitch)... My favorite felted thing I've made is a huge vest (Ravelry page: http://ravel.me/ChaoticK/fv ) It was down to the floor "before" and a nice hip length "after".

Probably a dumb question but your beautiful example is knitted, does the piece have to be knitted or would crocheted work (if the stitches were tightly worked).

Crocheted pieces will felt, as well, as long as you use mostly wool yarn (70% or more, from my experience... though 100% is the quickest/easiest). I've found that using 2-3 sizes larger hook/needles than 'recommended size for xx yarn' (e.g. size US 9 or 10 for worsted weight yarn instead of size US 7 or 8) makes a looser 'fabric' (rather than tighter) and seems to result in better felting... I think it allows the loosened 'scales' on the surface of the wool fibers more freedom to mesh together completely. If you want really thick felted fabric, doubling up the yarn works really well.

you can also put it in very hot water and let it sit,so you don't have to start a wash
Have you made this work? I believe the fibers do need agitation for the little hooks to stick together and felting to happen.
Sorry,late. i havent been on fo a wile. It took me a couple of times, but it made a very nice coaster out of a "practice" peice. Also once the water gets cool, take it out. Try for as hot of water as you can
I'm pretty sure it will felt faster with agitation, though.
susanrm3 years ago
Be aware that front-loading washers may not be able to felt items at all, or it may take ages.

Thought you might like to see these. Before and after felting. Four years later, after almost constant cold-weather wear, the recipient (who does have very large feet) says they are still in perfect shape.
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acutuly you only need at least 50% wool to felt
msdrpepper4 years ago
The shrinkage can also vary depending on how loopy and big the stitches were to begin with... or how it was dried...

I have a funny/sad story about my earliest experience with an "unintended felting", which I will proceed to share with you. Years and years ago, my grandmother knitted a beautiful cowlneck sweater out of a woolen Royal Blue yard - it was very pretty, and the stitching was kind of loopy. It was a fuzzy yarn to start with, almost like angora (might have even had some angora or similar woven in with the yarn. I don't really know when she made it - I'm guessing late 50's or early 60's before I was born? My mom never wore it very much because of the need to hand wash and then block to dry, plus because of the larger stitching, she pretty much had to wear a blouse underneath of it to keep everything decent, as well as to block the wind.

One day she wore it and had it out in her "to be washed later" pile (with hose, bras, that sort of thing)... but my younger sister, not really aware of why exactly it had to be hand washed, decided to be impatiently helpful and washed the sweater in the same laundry load as a bunch of other hot water washable items. Then she proceeded to run it through the dryer...On the hot setting! (these were late 1960's? vintage dryers, none of this computer sensor stuff...).

Well, my mom is kind of large for her shorter height, but when the sweater came out of the dryer, it had shrunk so small that our two year old brother could wear it perfectly.

My mom wasn't very happy, and it's amazing she let my sister live long enough to give my mom grandchildren, but she did. And I have no idea what became of the Royal Blue Felted Toddler Sweater - it was still beautiful, even in miniature!!
may-may5 years ago
great project!...would you mind sharing the pattern for the bag? thanx
Oh wow! That's how they do that? I thought you used some kind of tool lol Cute bag!
They do use felting needles.
R4Man186 years ago
you have really petite hands but im a guy so who knows. nifty instructable
MikeEC2166 years ago
In marching band we used to shave our felt berets to remove the fuzzies from them. Just an idea if you're worried about cutting the bag. Just get your old razor and literally shave the bag gently.