I'm starting an new weekly series!
::Techniques, patterns and inspiration about hand-felting your knits from a felt-centric designer.
I discovered the magic of felting knits back before I had a blog. Very soon after I learned to knit, I came upon Beverly Galeskas’ book Felted Knits. I knitted a small green bag and tossed it in the washer. Like many people who have tried felting for the first time, I was so captivated by the magic of felting. A loose, floppy piece of knitting transformed into something firm, smooth and sturdy. I embellished the bag with a funky vintage button and used it for a while.
A couple years later, I began to design knitted toys for my two boys. I wanted to make a little knitted horse. There were plenty of sweet and simple designs for knitted animals in one of my favorite books, but it seemed the texture of the knitted stitches was distracting and sometimes stuffing poked through. The toys were soft and floppy and didn’t stand on their own. Then I remembered my green bag and set out to design a horse that was knitted and felted.
My first few tries were so misshapen and wonky. Short legs, impossibly long necks, tiny bodies, too-fat bodies, it was tricky! And since I was felting, I couldn’t just rip out my knitting and try again. It seemed so discouraging and wasteful to keep going, but I’m glad I did. After several “drafts,” I came up with a horse shape I was pleased with. This design became Dusty and Satchel, and it is still one of the designs I’m most happy with. The horses are still in my boys’ room almost 5 years later and they are sturdy as ever.
From that point on, I continued to primarily design projects for felted knits. I can’t really say why I continued to focus on this specific niche. It can be frustrating as a designer to make something that is seemingly so simple, but has so many variables. Different yarns shrink at different rates, different shapes felt differently. There is always a risky feeling when I felt something and I often still have to work through several drafts to get a project to be just the right size and shape. But the magic and mystery of felting knits has continued to intrigue me and I so when I set out to write a book about knitted slippers, I included many felted projects. (Here's a sneak peek of some designs in the book.)
Since so many of the techniques I use were gleaned from disparate sources or self-taught, I thought it would be useful and fun to begin a series of posts about the basics of hand-felting your knits. I’m going to post once a week, sharing my tips and techniques, inspiration and pattern ideas. For the first series, I’m going to review the basics of hand-felting knits, here’s what’s on tap:
February 26: What is felting? Why felt your knits?
March 5: Choosing yarn for felting.
March 12: Machine felting versus hand felting.
March 19: How I felt.
March 26: Finishing your felted knits.
April 2: Projects for first-time hand-felters.
I hope this series will be helpful to knitters who are curious about felting and encourage felting beginners to give this exciting technique a try. Meanwhile, if you have any questions about knitting and hand-felting, please leave a comment, I'll do my best to answer them in the coming weeks.