Doing Mean Things To Yarn – Let’s Try Felting

Most of the time when you wash your hand knit, hand crocheted items you treat them like the precious babies they are, right? Of course you do. With all the work that goes into making something, you’d be crazy to plop them in the washing machine, in super hot water, with regular laundry soap, and hit the high agitation cycle. Crazy!

Unless you’re felting and then its okay!

Technically, you’re “fulling”, not felting. As it was explained to me by a cheerful but very precise crafter one day, felting is done to unspun, loose fiber with needles and/or some sort of wet, mechanical process. If you are doing mean things to shrinking down a piece that’s been knitted or crocheted, its called fulling. Don’t you just love grammar nazis? Yeah, me neither.

So when you’re felting (I’m such a rebel) you need a yarn that is untreated and 100% animal fiber. Acrylic blends and superwash won’t shrink. Normally that would be an awesome thing in a yarn but in this case. Wool yarns work great. Single ply wool yarns work really great. For my first attempt I used Noro Kureyon in color 332.

I decided I wanted a felted yarn bowl. I just love yarn bowls and I really love the hand thrown ceramic one-of-a-kind yarn bowl a knitting student gifted me. But… it doesn’t travel well. In fact it doesn’t travel at all, lol. I’m too afraid it will get broken so I always leave it at home. Since I am a RovingCrafter and I rove around, I had to come up with a solution: felted yarn bowls.

Working with two strands of Kureyon held together and size 11 (8 mm) needles got me this big floppy sack:

From 3 skeins of Noro Kureyon
From 3 skeins of Noro Kureyon

Before putting this baby in the torture pot washing machine, I used cotton thread to sew a loose running stitch along the upper edge of the bowl. If you’ve tried felting before, you may have found that edges can get pulled out of shape. Criblet, a wonderful and talented lady from my crafting group, taught me this trick to keep edges smooth and it has worked for me every time.

Use cotton thread to "fix" the edge
Use cotton thread to hold the edge

(Since this is Kureyon, I gave the knitting a quick soak in ice water in my kitchen sink while the washing machine filled with hot water. Kureyon is lovely and no one does colors quite like Noro, but they do overspin their singles somewhat. That can make the yarn resist felting. A pre-soak in ice water helps.)

Here is how it looked fresh out of the washing machine:

After Felting

After trimming the fuzzies, and pulling out the running stitch, and setting in a cute little clasp…. I found that it was too big.,lol. Pretty (and completely felted down) but too big. I’m telling ya, for a yarn bowl it makes a good hand bag. Nice edges though if I do say so myself!

Nice... but awfully big

So I decided for my second attempt I would use different yarn. What? Did you think I would just give up? Noooo. I love yarn bowls! Also, I’m 6 weeks (and counting) behind in my Mary Lennox shawl mystery knit-a-long and when I get that far behind in a project, I start looking for something else to do.

Using Paton’s Classic Wool Roving (two strands held together again) in colors Pacific Teal and Yellow, I made another sack. This time I improvised a simple two-color stranded knit pattern…

Using 2 skeins of Paton's Classic Wool Roving
Using 2 skeins of Paton’s Classic Wool Roving

… and put in a running stitch with cotton thread

The edge stitch

… and ta-da! A felted yarn bowl.

What a difference changing yarns can make!
What a difference changing yarns can make!

The big one seems to be the right size to hold 4 oz of roving. Maybe it will be a roving bowl, lol. Maybe it will just be decorative. But the smaller one is perfect. I may have to make another. I may have to make one for each WIP.

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