Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Felting Crocheted Wool

I love to crochet and especially when I find some nice wool yarn to felt.  Felting is the process of washing and drying wool so that it forms more of fabric than yarn pieced together.  The end product is wonderful because it has a full, solid feel.  The picture above is a combination of felted wool (the heather grey part) with an acrylic flap (the white part).  

So, here the deal on how to felt a crocheted pouch, bag or anything else you would like to make.  I have read a lot on this and tried several different methods, but if you  have a top-loading washing machine, and some good 100% wool yarn it will be easy.  For those of you who are lucky enough to have a front loading washer and dryer you can still do it, but it just doesn't turn out as well.  

So, lets talk yarn.  The yarn must be wool and at least 85% to felt well.  I have read you can do it with a lower percentage, but I like mine to felt really well, so I haven't even tried it.  Wool yarn is more expensive, so be on the lookout for sales or those 40% off coupons.  I really like Lion Brand's Fishermens wool yarn-  it felts well, but doesn't come in very many pretty colors.  The projects here are all using Patton's Classic wool.  I have also used Patton's Roving wool and it worked great and comes in vibrant colors.  The main thing is just read the labels well.  Just because "wool" is on the label doesn't mean it has enough to make it work for you.  Also- and Very Important- make sure it ISN'T machine washable.  This won't felt, it will just be a pretty crocheted thing that is scratchy.  

Remember that there will be considerable shrinkage (and not like George talks about on that episode of Seinfeld).  Each type of wool shrinks at a different rate, so test out a swatch before you start.  I crochet a 4"x4" square and then wash and dry it just to see what the shrinkage will be-  it will shrink more one way than the other so you probably won't up with a square in the end.  I usually assume it will shrink between 1/3-1/2 from the original size.

So, enough reading..... lets get to crocheting.  

First you have to crochet your work.  I don't really use patterns, well mainly because I'm too lazy to read through the entire thing, but here is the main gist of it. 
 I always start with a chain-less foundation row because it is easier and (for me) gives better results.  Here is a great tutorial on how to do the Chain-less Foundation Stitch

Then I did a basic griddle stitch which is just a sc,dc,sc,dc pattern.  It helps if you have an even number of stitches across.  

I worked what would be across in the picture below and then turned it and worked the flap on the short end of the rectangle.  

This is a second pouch I am working on.  I have already sewn up the sides and woven in the ends.  

Next its time to wash and dry the pieces.  The best way to do this is to pour a little liquid detergent onto the piece and make sure it is all coated.  Then put it in a hot wash with towels or jeans- something heavy that will allow a lot of agitation.  If you only want it to felt a little check during your wash.  I like it to be felted a lot, so I usually do 2 or 3 washes.  Then put it in the dryer on high for 20-30 minutes depending on how big the piece is-  you can always stop the dryer and check it to make sure it hasn't gone too far.

So, this bag up top, becomes this bag below after felting.  The flap ended up being too long once it was finished so I just sewed it up and am going to add a button to the flap when I put on the magnetic closure.  So, lets talk about closures.  There are a million different ways to add that, you could sew a zipper in (I'm usually not that patient), you could leave a hole for a button ( I sometimes do that) or you could use a magnetic closure (I prefer to do this when I have them).  If you live in the states these are easier to get.  I usually stock up when I am there, although the good ones aren't always easy to find.  JoAnn's Fabrics has the best selection, I think and they go on very easily and have just the right amount of magnetism to hold it together, but not too much so it rips out of your fabric.

So, this is what it looked like after  being washed and dried.  

A close up of the texture.  I love how the stitches become incorporated so they are all one fabric.  

Below is the larger bag at the top that I was still crocheting.  This bag is a good example of how the crocheting shrinks at different rates vertically and horizontally.  As you can see, the flap, is narrower that the bag, that is because I crocheted the flap and the rest of the bag in different directions.  It gives the bag a nice "full" look or at least that is what I am telling myself since there isn't anything I can do about it now.  

Well, that is all for the felting tutorial, Let me know what you create with your crocheted felting.

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