For more important information about how to felt wool, see below. You should use wool or other animal fiber yarn, ie. alpaca or llama, maybe dog hair if you have a long haired breed. Acrylic, polyester, nylon, cotton, silk, or yarns with only a percentage of wool WILL NOT FELT.
Be aware that wools labeled 'superwash' have been treated to prevent felting.
Use only 100% animal fiber yarns. If in doubt, ask your supplier if the yarn you purchased is suitable for felting. If you're the adventurous type, just try it anyway - you might be pleasantly surprised!
Firstly you can use your creative skills to knit, crochet , maybe weave or craft an item with macrame. Usually the most successful felted items are those which don't need to be a certain size, eg. purses, bowls, tote bags, scarves.
Try something small at first to be sure you like the results.
You don't want to shrink that intricate cabled vest that took you months to make
, only to find it will now fit your 4 year old! As you progress through the learning curve of how to felt wool, you can become more adventurous, I promise!
In learning how to felt wool, you must be aware that your wool item WILL SHRINK during felting. You can compensate for some shrinkage by using a larger hook or needles than usual.
If you want a denser finish for a tote bag, choose a closer stitch design. For a more open look, say for a scarf, choose a very open or lacy pattern. Think about the function of your finished project.
Heard of boiled wool? Try felting without a washing machine!
Above are pictures of single crocheted fabric before felting (Left) and after felting (Right).
So, let's say you're making a simple purse...Your purse should be completely finished before you begin felting - sewn up and ends finished off. Add any embellishments in wool BEFORE felting. (If you embroider a design after felting then wash your purse again, the embroidery shrinks, but not the purse. This leaves your purse mis-shapen.) When you are happy with your purse, place it in a mesh laundry bag. You can wash your purse alone - I have found that washing it by itself works best. Also, wool fibers may work loose during washing, so my advice is...wash only with outerwear, if you want to add anything at all!
Set your washing machine to HOT WASH and COLD RINSE cycle and add a small amount of wool-friendly detergent.
Now just leave your machine to do all the hard work while you put your feet up and relax. Where's that magazine you've been meaning to read? Didn't it contain an article about how to felt wool? (Hmmm - I've forgotten what it's like to relax - having 2 young boys!!!)
Now you know how to felt wool in your washing machine. What could be easier? What will you felt next?
Here is a small tote bag I made from 100% wool yarn. It is all single crochet, made in one piece, so there was only one end to finish off. That's the way I like it - easily finished!
Click here to learn how to make wool felt by hand.