Felting Felting by Hand Felting without a Machine Felting Knitted Garments

While it may be quicker to pursue the hobby of felting by using a machine, you can gain a sense of joy and accomplishment when you complete the project by hand. Depending on the size of your project, it can still take very little extra time. It would be a good idea to felt a small swatch of knitting first before you complete the full garment so that you have an idea of what the project is going to look like.

To felt a small article, you need a small amount of hot water and some agitation. It is important that you do not use pure wool for the knitting when you plan to felt because the hot water will cause it to shrink a lot. You may be able to do this in a small bowl of water, but for a larger project you may need to use a bucket or even the bathtub. You only need enough hot water to cover the item that you want to felt and be able to swish the water around in whatever type of container you are using. You don’t need a larger amount of water because then you will get wet and splash water on the floor or counter.

Add a few drops of your normal dishwashing detergent to the hot water. Be careful not to use laundry detergent. The dishwashing liquid helps to open up the fibers and make the piece of knitting more receptive for felting. Use your hand, a stick or even one of your cooking utensils to swish the item around in the water. Rub the piece along the bottom of the container, using your knuckles to apply pressure to the material. You should wear rubber gloves during this process to protect your hands and also to add a bit of extra roughness when you are applying pressure when rubbing the material with your knuckles.

After you have swished the knitted material around in the hot water for a few minutes, take it out and check the progress you have made. Do not hold it up with your fingertips to do this, but gently squeeze out some of the water and then lay the piece on a towel. It should be getting fuzzy by this time, but it will have shrunk somewhat with the hot water. The width, though, should be the same as it was in the beginning.

If the progress is not what you are looking to achieve, immerse the knitted material in really cold water and then return it to the hot water. This is called “shocking” the piece. It may take some types of yarn longer to felt than others.

It is really up to you when you decide that you have completed the felting. Some like to have it really fuzzy, while others only want a small amount of fuzz on the knitting. Lightly felting a knitted garment still allows you to see the stitches, whereas heavy felted garments do not resemble a knitted piece at all because all the stitches have been matted together.