too many different felting directions--Help!

PnwjudyJanuary 9, 2005

I'm ready to felt my purse BUT I have found conflicting directions for doing it.

Some say no spinning in the washer--it will cause creasing that won't come out.

Others say use baking soda with dish detergent.

Some say no soap.

Some say use "Eucalan"--what is that?

Some say continuous agitation will prevent discoloration, so do not let it just stand in the water.

Another said she even put it in the drier, most say to shape and air dry.

One says an important ingredient is lots of courage--I believe that!

So what should I believe? Any experiences one way or other out there to guide me?

Thanks to all you great folks.

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I just place my pruse in a lingerie bag at the bottom of the machine, add a couple pairs of jeans and a small amount of detergent and wash on the warm setting. I do the whole cycle. It takes a couple of washes and it's done. I haven't had any problems yet!!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 7:23PM
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I just hope the particulars will not make that much difference.

I'm also wondering whether to sew the handles on before or after the felting? Any reasons pro or con?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 9:15PM
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When I did my slippers, I set the washer for the lowest water level, hotest water, no detergent. I seem to have residual detergent in my washer even tho I use very little when I wash. Aggitated until they were the right size, spun out the water, shaped and set in front of the registers to dry.

As for the handles, do you have a knit shop near by to ask about? A friend just recently did a purse. The handles didn't shrink as much as the purse did. I don't know if it was something normal or something she did. I didn't get to hear what the shop owner told her. I think her handles were knitted on before she felted it as part of the purse. In your case, if they are not already attached, I might felt them with the purse, but sew them on afterwards. That way, if they don't felt at the same rate the purse does, you can felt them a little longer, or sew them at the length you want them. Hope this helped a little. I just bought a felted tote pattern in 3 sizes, the yarn for it and yarn to do another pair of slippers. Just have to find the time to do it!


    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 11:13PM
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That is good information to consider, Tami, thanks.
I thought that maybe the handles would shrink MORE since I thought that knitting shrinks more in length than width.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 1:20AM
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Eucalan is a special kind of soap for wool, it has a bit of eucalyptus in it which is supposed to discourage moths. Yarn stores sell it.

I have made a few different felted bags and the advice above is good. I blocked them on different things. The "booga" bag blocked on a cereal box (covered with plastic wrap). The mini French Market bags blocked on those smallish square kleenex boxes. The big French Market bag blocked on a laundry detergent tub. (I did let it go through the whole wash cycle and it *did* get a crease that was the very devil to get out!) You'll want to consider what is the right size and shape for what you have made. I like blocking felted things because they come out looking nice and professional.

Another thing to consider about your handles is, if you sew them on first and then felt, your sewing-on stitches will felt as well and disappear. If you sew them on after, they might show. Of course you could felt it again after you sew, for a bit, to make them go away.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 10:16AM
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You could maybe stuff it with plastic grocery bags after it's felted to the size you want and then spin it to get most of the water out. It would probably keep the worst of the creases out.


PS let us know how it comes out!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 11:28AM
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Something else to keep in mind, or for others felting for the first time, is that you CAN NOT felt in a front loading washer. Also, the first time is the scaryest!


    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 11:30AM
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I felted 10 bags for friends for Christmas this year. I use the hot water setting on my machine and the longest agitation cycle I do add a little bit of Woolite to the water. I don't let it rinse or drain. I sew on the handles first and put it in a lingerie bag (otherwise you will have pieces of yarn fluff all over the washer). I use rubber tongs to pull the bag out of the hot water,(I do try to squeeze out a little water at this point) I then rinse it in my kitchen sink with warm/cool water and then squeeze out as much water as I can wearing rubber gloves. I then roll it in a towel and let it set for a few minutes. I cut cardboard (2 or 3 pieces) the size of the bottom and cover with plastic wrap, put it in the bottom of the bag and hang it on whatever tupperware fits inside of it. It will take a few days to dry depending on how humid it is. Good luck, Debby

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 1:44PM
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Wow, thanks for all the good tips.
I thought about re felting after sewing the handles on, but to have to wait all over again for it to dry the second time would be agony.

Has anyone used a pillowcase instead of the lingerie bag? It would make it harder to check on progress, though.

**Another question**:
Does it shrink more while drying? Or does it stretch a bit due to the heaviness while blocking?

So do you take it out of the water when it is the exact right size?

Once I get through this process, I'm already thinking about whether to line it and include a small zipper compartment.

And maybe next time adding a flat center knitted divider, I havent seen a pattern for it, but it seems it would work as long as it doesn't pull and pucker the outer sides too much.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 2:55PM
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its the agitation not just the hot water that makes wool felt. it doesn't have to be super hot either, make it a manageable temp because you have to keep checking the progress of the item.

and sewing on the handles first will make it more secure and the sewing will blend in as the item felts.

and you MUST shape it and dry it by air, as someone said, it takes days. Oh and dark wools felt better than white wools. I dont know why. Have fun. I love felting.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 3:55PM
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The bag will not shrink anymore while drying. You will beable to stretch it slightly to block it.

Attaching the handles before the wash makes the join alot stronger.

Here is a link to a felted bag with a partition:

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 4:56PM
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I felted a bucket hat in hot water, in a pillow case rubberbanded shut. Twice through the wash cycle, and hand rised. Wrapped in a towel to sop out some of the water. I checked it about three times during the wash cycle. Blocked it on a coffe can covered in plastic. It took about 24 hrs to dry all the way through. My booga bag is almost finished ran out of
the pattern has the handles knitted to the bag,(icord). handles).

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 1:37AM
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I just felted for the first time two days ago. I made a scarf for my hubs out of Plymouth's Sinsation yarn (dark brown). I used four skeins, 25 stitches on #11 birch needles. Put it into the washing machine with a brown robe and a green towel. Hot wash with some Tide Free, warm rinse, hot rinse, warm rinse. Put all three items into the dryer on the "normal" setting (I usually have it on "knits") and let it tumble until it was completely dry. It is incredibly soft and silky.

Tami, why can't felting be done in a front-loading washer???

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 4:03AM
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Just wanted to add one important thing - check OFTEN while felting, maybe every 5 minutes. They sometimes shrink really fast. I used a zippered pillow case from the dollar store.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 5:33PM
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The Booga bag handles aren't felted to the bag. It's a seperate i-cord threaded through holes you make after it is felted

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 8:08PM
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It's DONE!!

The handles did not shrink as much as the bag itself, so for future reference I won't try to keep them in proportion to the bag to start with. These were I cord with a crocheted two-strand chain in the center for thickness.

I don't like how the areas looks where the handles were sewn on. It seems thinner and less neat there. I wonder if I had just used an *X* stitch would it have looked neater?

I ended up having to shave it -- as the directions indicated to get a nice smooth finish and sharpen the colors. (I used a disposable razor that was probably not sharp enough, or got dull quickly) I wonder if all wools fuzz up this much or if this is an attribute of Cascade220.
Has anyone else shaved theirs? What did you use?

All in all very interesting and fun, Am planning the next one now, either one without separate handles or one with a divider.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 9:05PM
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Lindsey, I don't exactly know the answer to that one. I think it's because there is no agitator in the front loaders. I do know that a friend has a frt. load and her cousin has the top load. She goes to her cousins to felt everything, says it can't be done in a frt. load. I guess you couldn't check the progress in a frt load, either with the water in the machine.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 1:15PM
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Thanks, Tami. I got to thinking about it after I posted, and I thought it probably had to do with the lack of agitator... It's nice to get confirmation of that, though. We're going to be getting a new washer soon, and I've now told my hubs that we can't get a front loader (which is what we'd been planning to get). He was astounded... so I told him that we'll have to keep this washer in the garage so I can felt! :-)

Also, just to be correct in what I'm posting, I erred when I wrote that I had used four skeins of Sinsation on that scarf for my hubs -- I used five skeins. I wish I'd measured it before I felted it. I know that it lost width, and I had assumed it lost a lot in length, too... so when I made one for myself this weekend, I used six skeins of Sinsation because I wanted my scarf to be longer (I wanted it to be roughly 6' long). I used size 11 needles and cast on 20 stitches. The scarf ended up 7'5" long and 6.25" wide. After felting, it's 7'11" long and 4.25" wide. The width is perfect, but the length... :-(

    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 3:50PM
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Your scarf got LONGER! in length?

I wonder if it's because the weight of it kept pulling and stretching it? (Like the handles on my bag?)
Maybe if it was knit on circulars lengthwise instead of crosswise it would shrink more or at least wouldn't stretch as much?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 6:59PM
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Yeah, I'm totally stunned that it got longer! The way I always measure the scarves I make is to hold them up by one end, and then measure. I found that laying them out on the carpet wasn't as accurate, because you can stretch one more than another when laying them out; and gravity affects the length as you're wearing the scarf, so I might as well use the gravity when I'm measuring... I had to stand on the first landing of the stairs, and hold the scarf out so it touched the living room floor! :-/

But, I have put that dang thing back in the washer and dryer twice today -- my next step would have been to stick it in a pot of boiling water on the stove! It's now 6'8" long. Still longer than I wanted, but at least it's wearable now.

There are so many other wonderful colors of Sinsation, that I think I'll make another one of these, but I'll limit it to 5 skeins -- 20 stitches on size 11 needles (because I'm happy with the finished width).

    Bookmark   January 18, 2005 at 3:15AM
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Hi all. I wonder how many bags one can felt in the washer at one time. i want to make many bags for my family and friends but cannot get into the process for just one bag. It took so long to do the BOOga bag that I want short cuts. Any ideas, Jenny.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 1:58PM
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I went to a class on felting at the Sewing Expo in Puyallup WA. It was really interesting.

She said to check the item every 5 minutes, even if you know it won't be done. That way you find out if it is developing a hole where you dropped a stitch or something or pulling itself really crooked.

She also said that it was the agitation that made the wool fibers felt together. Cold water works just fine. Using a bit of detergent seemed to speed the process. She used to use Dawn, I forget what she uses now.

Front loaders won't work because you are checking the item, not running it through the entire cycle. Front loaders have to drain before they'll open (unless you have a really old one) and you just waste tons of water that way. My washer is a front-loader, electronic and everything, and it won't open until you hit the drain button. :-(

Checking the item is really important for fit - particularly slippers, hats and clothing items like vests. If you run it through the whole cycle it may work for one yarn, but shrink way up on another. You have to check it if you want a particular size.

She says a big NO to spin cycle. Apparently it really will crease things up bad, and they'll partway felt that way, or be discolored along the crease. She squeezes out as much water as possible, then rolls it in a towel, then blocks the piece.

White or natural yarn will not felt for whatever reason, and pink is very stubborn as well. She suggested felting a swatch to be sure before buying a whole lot of the yarn and certainly before knitting up the whole piece.

Swatches are specially important when felting two different yarns together. She showed a hat that she hadn't swatched, and the band around the head had totally shrunk up, but the crown and band had not. It was because the two wools were shrinking at different speeds. She couldn't run it again, the band would then be REALLY small, but the rest hadn't started felted yet. There was no saving it, and it has now become a showpiece of what NOT to do!

She listed a gizmo that could be mail-ordered that you could use in a bucket to felt smaller things. Sorta like the idea of a butter churn, it took 20-30 minutes to felt something. Maybe it would be like a knitter's exercise machine! LOL!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2005 at 10:06PM
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Tami and Lindsey, I have a front-loading Maytag Neptune and it felts wonderfully. This machine only uses the amount of water needed for any given load, so I have to wait for the washer to stop after I push a "Stop" button, but there is water in the bottom that does not drain. Water is not wasted and I can check often. Lindsey, perhaps your husband and you might want to look in to a Maytag - wonder what they are going to call them once Whirlpool really gets charge of things? Check it out.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 12:07AM
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I can't felt in my front-loading washing machine. It's... European.

I do all of my felting in the bathtub, with a five gallon bucket, and a plunger. It's... messy, and tiring.

~ Kit

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 12:55AM
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Here's a slightly different Question on Felting...
This for FLAT crocheted piece
I have a design I want to use for Dining Room Seat covers and matching table runner and want them felted for durability and looks.
If I do a smaller swatch with the same design (differnt colors yarns from dark red and green to beige) WILL the larger piece shrink the same way % as the smaller one???
Has anyone EVER felted flat pieces/swatches?

Oh, thanks for the front loader info..guess I will have to use a friends machine since mine is also front loading and electronic.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 5:14PM
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Remember when we tried NOT to felt things we made? :) I do. The first sweater I ever made ended up felted by accident. Hot water, agitation and act like you don't want it to felt and you've got it. :)

I have made several felted items. I think all the tips I read here are good. I think they all work but you might want to practice on your own machine to see how long it takes and all that. I know people use a wash board to felt. You know those old fashioned boards they used to use to clean clothes.

I've found that you can restretch things after they've been felted, not by much but a little bit. When I've made slippers for friends I felt them but I tell people that if they are too big to run it through the washer again. I tell them to try them on while they are still a bit damp and that seems to mold it to their feet.

I would think that if you felt all the flat pieces at the same time they would be pretty close but I'm guessing.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 4:57AM
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I also felt in my front loading machine. Maybe it's the Iowa water!! I make purses from 100% wool sweaters so I don't have to worry about the size until after they are felted, then I cut out the size I want, so might make a big difference.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 9:15PM
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I have felted tons of things, and many purses. I always use the hottest cycle on the washer, and check after 15 min, and then every 5 min. thereafter till the desired size is met. Use a little gentle detergent like Woolite. Until you get the correct size, don't run through the spin/rinse cycle. Once you get the size you want, I find you can complete the cycle. By running through the spin cycle, it takes much less time to dry (days). I always air dry, and you will find this will only be overnight when running the spin cycle. A pair of jeans added will shorten the time, as the additional agitation helps to felt it. Always felt your handles separately and sew them on afterwards, they shrink at different rates. Good luck and don't worry too much.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 9:32PM
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I have also felted in a front load washer, works great.
The shrinkage will occur where the most agitation is, so you may want to work the length by hand, working in the same direction as what you want to shrink, so if you want it to shrink horizontally, work it by hand or with bubble wrap horizontally with water and a bit of soap... it is the agitiation the felts, not so much the water. Wool has little barbs that spring up with water and agitation, they catch on one another, so agitate what you want felted more.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 10:50AM
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