Thursday, 29 May 2008


Some time ago, before I started blogging in fact (how strange to be able to categorise the timeline of my life like that) I had a bit of a felting disaster. I remember that it was pre-blog precisely because someone said to me 'you could start a blog just to write about that'.

The project in question was the Fibertrends felted clogs - great pattern, no problem there. I was using some leftovers of Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Wool in deep red, light blue and steel blue.
This is a lovely wool, soft, thick, great colours. I didn't have quite enough leftovers so I had to buy more of the steel blue. Therein lies the start of my problem.

I had test felted (technically fulled because it was already a knitted fabric that went through the hot wash) my original swatches and they had come up really well - a soft, thick felt. These were going to be wonderful slippers. So I knit them up, again, no problem with the pattern although the resulting clog was pretty bizarre looking and I got quite a few dubious glances (from fellow knitters no less!). Then I put them in the machine - top loader - hot wash with soap flakes and a couple of old towels I think.

So, did they felt up well? They did ... and they didn't. The red felted well, the light blue felted well and some of the steel blue felted well, but some of it didn't. Some of it didn't felt at all, leaving me with a pair of very disfigured clogs. You know all that stuff about matching dye lots, it would seem to apply when felting too. My only explanation is that the later batch of steel blue must have been treated differently before dying to the original lot. I have heard that cream and white yarns often won't felt because the process to make them so pale strips them of the little scales that are essential to the felting process, rendering them very machine washable. Perhaps this later batch was so bleached before dying with the same result.

Needless to say, it was a very disappointing experience and I haven't managed to bring myself to attempt them a second time. It's just too hard to have seen that good knitting time (and yarn) go to waste. Because yes, they did go in the bin, they were unsalvageable.

So the moral of the story is to test felt a swatch of the same dye lot that you are going to work with!! And that is the only addition that I would make to the book
I Heart Felt by Kathleen Taylor which was kindly supplied to me by the publisher Taunton. There are some terrific projects in here - lovely felted pumpkins, a very cute baby hat with ear flaps and of course,
slipper patterns (do I dare disturb the universe?) - as well as good general instructions and the admonition that swatching is mandatory!


Anonymous said...

I've fallen in love with the cover design - it seems I am one of those people who judges a book by its cover.
I too had a felting experience with knitted slippers that did not end well, AND would you believe they were steel grey, that big fat GUSTO wool. I haven't dipped my toe into the felting pool since!

Anonymous said...

How distressing! I have knit very many pairs of the Fibretrends clogs pattern and deal with the fact that I use a mix of wools by knitting with more than one strand (usually 8 ply or so) and spreading out the differences in that way. I usually rip back those big old white or cream aran jumpers you see in the op shop... and re-dye. they *do* felt, but it takes a whole lot longer than patterns ever suggest for felting, and sometimes I felt at 60 or 70 C.

Greenolive... I thought Gusto only had partial wool content and was mostly acrylic (which won't felt, which is either its advantage, or in your case, its flaw).