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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Science of Felting

The first time I saw a handmade, felted, item I decided this was something I wanted to make. I started to read everything I could about felting. I was fascinated!

One of the main things I kept hearing (or reading) is that felting is an art, not a science. Sure there is definite science involved. After all, you take 100% wool, agitate it in hot water & you make fabric. It's not magic that felts the item. It's science. 

Still, I understood what they were saying. Felting is unpredictable and it will appear differently depending on how much you agitate the yarn, how heavily it is agitated, the composition of the yarn, the temperature of the water, etc. However, after felting well over 100 items, I was feeling confident. After all, I have this down. I knew exactly how long to agitate the item. My results were pretty consistent.

Then I got an order for 30 flower pins. Instead of felting a few at a time, I decided to make the whole batch & felt them all together. Sounds like a good idea, right? I've felted multiple items in one batch before. Usually purses. Which are bigger than flower pins. And, apparently, they don't move around much. 

I did everything the same as I always do.
     Hot water. Check.
     Tiny bit of Ivory detergent. Check.
     Half the flowers in one zippered pillow case. Check.
     Other half in the other zipper pillow case. Check.
     Towel for agitation. Check.

So far so good. The flowers should come out like this:
Before felting on the left, after on the right.
I'm ready. 30 flowers, let get this done!

Two cycles in the washer later, the flowers were felted all right. They were also very fuzzy! I never saw anything like it. Each flower needed a hair cut.

This flower looks like it's been camping for 2 weeks. Haircut! Stat!

So I spent the next hour trimming each flower until it went from the picture above to this:
Much better!

What do you think happened? Too many pins in one pillow case? Just a quirk in the felting process? 

I would love to hear if this has ever happened to you and if there is something I can do to avoid this in the future. 

Happy Crocheting Everyone!

1 comment:

  1. They are so pretty! I can't believe you sold your stock of these. Time to make more! Wouldn't put so many in the washer. I'm thinking they rubbed against each other too much, that's why they needed a haircut. :)