Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tech Question on Felting (and one for Nancy)

For the uninitiated, felting is as close to magic as you're likely to find in the world of knitting. (Or just about anywhere else, if you ask me.) It's an amazing process. Watching a giant clump of knitting shrink into something solid and strong, watching the colors bloom into a rainbow Monet would envy and all of this because you're lucky enough to own a top-loading washing machine and have access to hot water--well, I love it. What can I say?

My first felting experience went flawlessly. Noro Kureyon. A Perfect Pouch. Two 18 minute trips through the washer in a zippered pillow case surrounded by old jeans for agitation and I had achieved felting nirvana. Great color. Firm fabric. No visible stitch definition.

Did you see that last sentence? That's what you're aiming for. No visible stitch definition.

I'm having a lot of trouble the last year or so achieving that goal. We raise the water temp to almost lethal. I make sure to toss in a tiny bit of detergent for alkalinity. Jeans for agitation. The pillowcase so I don't destroy the washer. And nothing. Okay, next to nothing. I had to run a Perfect Pouch through the washer for THREE HOURS last Christmas to shrink a bag down to something close to no VSD (visible stitch definition) but still not close enough. I settled but I wasn't happy.

Where am I going wrong? One friend suggested using a tablespoon of baking soda for the alkaline instead of detergent. One friend suggested dumping the pillowcase and felting au naturel. I'm at a loss. I'm the same knitter using the same yarns in the same house in the same washing machine but with disappointing results. (Isn't that a take on the classic version of insanity: repeating the same process and still expecting a different result?)

Help greatly appreciated.

And, Nancy, I was blown away by the soccer scarf/flag. Details, girl! I want details! What yarn are you using? What size needles? Did you lay out the drawings on graph paper? That's intarsia technique, right? I need to know!!

Close-up photos of pre- and post-felting swatches are ready to be uploaded but Blogger isn't cooperating. I'll post them ASAP. But you can click and see them now if you're impatient. (Like me.)

If you want to take a short and fabulous trip through the felting process, visit WendyKnits today and feast your eyes.



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