Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I did not felt anything other than bags so far, and actually I think I will stick with some more of those. But of course a variety of items can be felted, slippers, vests, little hearts, needle cases, hats, pin cushions, and small toy animals, just to name a few.
The basic for felting is: 100% wool, (never with "Superwash" on the label, this wool is treated NOT to shrink), or special felt wool, knitting or crocheting a pattern, felting by using soap, very warm water, and agitation. Most practically and quickly this is done in the washing machine, but if you have strong arms, good felting can be acquired too by working on the material in a basin with your hands. After this process, the quite ugly looking wet lump resulting in it, has to be molded into the desired form. This can be done by stretching it or blocking it, or filling it up with stuff. The woolen fabric is very forgiving it its wet state. But beware, once it has dried, that's it - nothing can be changed any more. I figured, that for me it works out best when felting in the washing machine with a normal cycle of 40 degree warm water, without spinning. Heavy spinning can cause permanent creases. I take the bag out of the machine, put it on a towel and roll it gently to squeeze the excess water out. The key word here is: gently. With wringing violently and stepping on it it will be creased permanently too!

Then I put a pillow in a plastic bag and this goes in my crocheted or knitted bag, to puff it out, to achieve the design I had in mind. In addition wherever needed, I stuff crunched plastic bags inside. Once I am pleased with the look, I let it dry - this can take two or three days. I make all the extras, like pockets, flaps and handles separately. I will often have to carefully iron the flaps and pockets after they are dry, with a damp piece of fabric over them, to get them nice and flat. The handles I stretch on the ironing board with pins for drying. After everything is completely dry I sew those pieces on by hand, line the bag with fabric and embellish it.

This olive green and turquoise bag was crocheted with half double crochet stitches, and I want to talk about those versus single crochet stitches (halbe Staebchen und feste Maschen). In my opinion single crochet stitches give a much better result, as you can see here:

Of course crocheting double or half double crochet stitches will finish a bag quickly, but the outcome is not so pretty.
I also knitted a bag, but I have to finish it, before I can show you. Felting a knitted piece comes out very nice, but as I said crocheting gives faster results, at least with me. :-) On a perfectly felted item, the stitches should not be recognizable any more - till now I did not completely arrive at this goal, mainly because I learned that felting with more than 40 degree water temperature will give a dense result, but can destroy the colors.

Anyway in both cases, crochet or knit, the bag or whatever item, has to be worked much bigger and with thicker needles, two or three sizes higher than usual. The reason is, because the item  will shrink a sufficient amount while felting, and because the stitches have to be larger, to give room for shrinking. Usually the piece will shrink about 30 to 40 percent, and it will shrink more in height, than in width with a knitted piece and in reverse with a crocheted piece. This has to be taken into consideration while figuring out the size of any item. To be on the safe side, a patch should be worked and felted to determine the exact amount of shrinking - measuring before and after will tell to the point what needs to be known. The temperature has also to be taken into account, I ruined two bags, which I felted on 60 degrees and the color bled and washed out (I did not felt a swatch before!)

When a piece is felted properly, it will not unravel any more. Shapes like petals can be cut out and arranged and sewn into a flower. Lovely appliqued embellishments can be made this way.

So this is what I learned so far - maybe you want to give it a try too. Then next winter a cozy felted bag will remind you of its making in summer. It will be very comforting in cold weather - and will look pretty too!

P.S. Any small mistakes made while knitting or crocheting will disappear during felting. An easy way to crochet a simple bag, will be the bucket  design. Just crochet a circle in single crochet stitches. The rule here is: the number of stitches you have in your first round, you have to increase in each following round till your circle is as big as you want it to be. If you start with six single crochet stitches, then you will double each one in the next round (12), then every second one (18), every third one (24) and so on. When your circle is big enough just stop increasing and crochet straight up till to your desired height. Remember to make it much bigger, it will shrink a lot. If you use one color you can crochet spiral rounds, just go round and round, without joining them. If you are crocheting stripes, you have to join your rounds with a slip stitch (Kettmasche) to get your stripes butt up. In this case always put a stitch marker in your first stitch. Use a one number smaller hook for the last round and for the handles. Crocheting in the back (or front) loops only will make a less dense surface. Crochet the handles and the bottom always in both loops. Flaps and pockets (which are not on the round) are done with one row in back loops and one row in front loops, alternating.
You can line your bag with cotton fabric, or just leave it as it is, it is quite strong after felting.


Dawn of LaTouchables said...

I'm going to try and knit a band. I think for me it will be more trial and error than anything, as I can hardly knit one row...but I want to try. Thank you for those tips, Yael...that one about pinning on the ironing board...going to use that today!

Yael said...

Dawn, any small mistakes you make while crocheting or knitting, will disappear in the felting process!

Hilde said...

Thanks for sharing, Yael. This is such an inspirational post, and I will definately try ro crochet and felt.

Love love love your felted bags!!!

zsazsazsu said...

it's so much fun to see how you make these bags with crochet. Love them and their details.

Rakel said...

love this post!! would you like to follow each other? let me know!!