Usually, if you felt your knitting, it's heartbreaking: no one likes to accidentally shrink their favorite sweater. But! There are times when you felt on purpose. And it's magical. Trust us.
What is Yarn Felting?
Yarn felting is the process of agitating your knitting in hot water. This causes the natural fibers to expand and stick together, creating a much thicker, denser fabric with no visible stitches.
Since your pre-felted piece is going to shrink when you felt it, your you might find yourself working with large needles holding two strands of worsted weight yarn together, knitting something much larger than what you'll actually end up with.
How to Felt
1. Begin with a knitted or crocheted piece that has been worked in natural animal fibers. You can't go wrong with 100-percent wool here (though superwash wools won't felt. )
2. Toss your piece into the washing machine with a couple of towels (for extra agitation) and wash it on the hottest cycle you have. Stop it every five minutes or so to check on how well your piece is felting, to reshape, and stretch. The time needed will depend on the wool and the size of the piece but in general, about 20 minutes should do it.
If you don't have a washing machine, no sweat. Fill a large basin with the hottest water you can, adding a little no-rinse wool wash. Wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands, plunge your piece into the basin, agitate that thing — rub it against itself, move it around, cause friction.
This way can take a little longer to felt but it gets the job done. I've heard that people who rely on this method often use toilet plungers, but of course, you'd want a brand-new one (otherwise, ick).
3. Once your piece is fully felted you will need to get all the water out. If you are using the washing machine, run it on a drain/spin cycle. If you're using the basin method, squeeze out as much water from the piece as you can, then wrap it in a towel and stomp all over it.
4. While your piece is still damp, it's time to reshape it. Knitters generally avoid tugging and pulling on your piece, but now's the time to be a rule breaker. If you're making felted slippers, a bag or another piece that needs stuffing to retain its shape, use plastic grocery bags.
5. Place your felted items in a place with a lot of ventilation. This is important! Because the fabric is so thick, it needs circulating air to help it dry. Otherwise this process can take forever and the piece can end up smelling musty.
6. Once the material is fully dry, you can trim any areas that need extra shaping with scissors. I also like to cut off any extra fuzzies from the wool. You've got a super sturdy fabric that's perfect for extra bling: try embellishing with embroidery or even fabric paint.