During the winter, I step up my knitting projects. For several years, I have watched the felting enthusiasts expand their projects and the industry develop. I had avoided this side of fiber, as I thought it was a marketing ploy to make one purchase more yarn than necessary. After having completed the 8th flap-ear ski cap of the season, I looked at my collection of roving that was slowly catching up to my bead stash and decided to make the leap.
I knew that wet felting was not an exact science and researched the net to minimalize my trial and error process. I was determined not to purchase a book because the progression would lead to raising the sheep, spinning and dying. After knitting several oversized cloches and either stretching the wool to fit Andre the giant or shrinking to fit an American Girl doll, I found a consistant method.
Using a top loading washing machine combine 3 tennis balls and 2 pairs of men's pants (jeans are best) Set the temperature to the highest and run in a 5 minute cycle. Use cold water for teh rinse cycle. I remove the cap and check it to see if the fibers have felted and some yarns require 2 or 3 washings in this manner. When the hat is ready to dry, I place the hat on an inverted 2 lb plastic Protein bottle that I have borrowed from my son, who of course had a fit when he saw the bottle in the sun. How was I suppose to know that sun breakdowns powdered protein? and voila a decent felted hat is complete.
To date, I have successfully made 10 ladies cap's in this manner. My new challenge is making a man's brimmed hat and as of today I do not have the sizing down despite 3 attempts!