Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hand Felting Tutorial

Recently, I made a new friend that just happened to know how to knit too. He had plenty of family members that knit and had been gifted these really awesome felted clogs that I must say I am jealous of. You see, years ago, I attempted knitting and felting a pair of mary jane slippers that turned out to be just a little bit too short for my feet and provided very little warmth because the majority of my foot was still exposed to the air. 

Instead of pining for said slippers, I decided to try some for myself and see what happens. The particular pattern that I used was Fuzzy Feet and it took me three days to knit and felt these slipper socks. I decided to hand felt them because I didn't want to use any machinery for the entire process. Also, the purple yarn in the socks was an experimental yarn that I dyed with purple juice years ago and I wasn't sure whether or not it would bleed. Since the process worked out so well, I thought I'd make a little tutorial of how to hand felt knitted items. 
First, you start out by filling a sink full of hot water and soap. Soak your giant items ready to be felted in the water bath and prepare yourself for the work ahead. NOTE: If your fabric isn't 100% wool, start over and make whatever you want to felt with 100% wool because it will never work. 

Once your fabric is nice and wet, you'll need to start massaging the fabric together. Most people know that hot water, soap and agitation are the key ways to accidentally shrink (AKA felt) wool garments. Because I wanted to intentionally felt, I used these three methods to my advantage. I made these two gif files to demonstrate to you the kinds of motions that will help in the felting process. The felting process is sped up by rubbing the fabric against itself in small but fast "massaging" motions. I like to think of it as rubbing a little bit of happy into the fabric so that the slippers will be nice and warm, essentially keeping my feet happy!
I felted the slippers one at a time so here is a size comparison for you. Felted garments shrink to about 1/3 of their original size so you'll want to make sure your garment is about 3 times bigger than your finished dimensions. 
These slippers turned out pretty cute and very warm! The pattern was great and the slippers made a good addition to the holiday gifts I was giving. I wish I had more time before the holidays to make a few more pairs but I'm also a fan of giving gifts at random so I might still make some anyway. 
PS, these were a great way to use up some stash scraps of yarn. I want to make a few that have thicker stripes in the near future so keep an eye out in the near future :)

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