How to Felt
There are a couple of different ways to achieve a felted look. I prefer the hand felting method. Felting by hand is more work than machine felting, but you ultimately have much more control over how your final product looks. The added bonus is that it is eco-friendly. On the other hand, machine felting is much faster and easier. Try both, and decide which works best for you. One caveat: Machine felting works best in top-loading washers. The front-loading washers don’t use as much water or agitation, and you can’t stop them in the middle of the cycle to check your progress.
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You Will Need
Place the item to be felted into your container of very hot water. (I usually boil the water on the stove, then add a bit of cold water so I don’t scald myself.) Wear gloves and be careful!
Add a couple of drops of soap and start agitating, using a spoon, plunger, or other household item, depending on the size of your piece. You can just sort of spin things around so your piece gets thoroughly wet and the wool fibers begin to open up a bit. (You won’t see this, but it’s happening!) Do this for 5 or 10 minutes to get the felting process started.
Remove from hot water, wring out, and plunge into cold water. This process shocks the wool fibers and gets them to open up and start fusing together.
Wring out your item gently but thoroughly, and place back in hot water. Begin to scrub your piece against your washboard using the soap as lubrication. Don’t use too much soap—just a drop or two—or you won’t get the necessary friction. You can scrub your piece alternately against the washboard, against itself, and between your hands. Progress will seem slow at first, but don’t give up. You will begin to notice that your wool is looking fuzzy and the stitches less distinct. This is a great sign and means your wool is starting to felt.
After a few more minutes, plunge your piece back into the ice water. This will shock the fibers again and cause them to open even more.
Gently squeeze out excess water.
Repeat steps 1–6 until the desired amount of felting has occurred. This generally means when you can no longer see the stitches and your knitting looks like a piece of wool fabric. Experiment to find the look that works for you. Some of the patterns in this book are felted less than others, so that you can still see the stitchwork. It really is a matter of personal preference.
Roll the piece up in a towel to squeeze out excess water.
A salad spinner is another great way to remove excess water from smaller projects. It’s like a kinder, gentler spin cycle and really speeds up the drying time. However, I would recommend reserving a salad spinner for this purpose only, or you may end up with some fuzz on your microgreens.
Place on mold if required or lay flat to air dry.
Please don’t ignore your rubber gloves. Wear them! Most gloves have a textured surface on the palms that’s great for felting your fabric, and they really and truly protect your hands from drying out. Take it from me. I ignored my own advice and now have the hands of a one-hundred-year-old washerwoman.