Knitted hat before felting
Knitted hat before felting

On a rare trip out one day we stumbled across a wool shop.  I was entranced for a couple of hours examining all the different yarns and one in particular caught my eye.  It was beautiful, a random mixture of blues and golds and instead of being smooth, it was rather lumpy.

We pushed the boat out and bought a skein with no particular knitting project in mind.  All the way home I thought about the possibilities.  Gradually the idea of felting occurred to me.  I’d never tried it before and didn’t really have a clue how to go about it.

When we got back to the house I was straight onto the internet and found some ideas to get me going.  I had decided on a hat but halfway through knitting it, ran out of yarn.  The shop was miles away so I had to order more online.

With the hat complete and huge, as it shrinks when felted, we gathered together all the things I would need for the felting process.  I had initially intended to do it in the washing machine but quickly discovered that it wasn’t a good idea.  Once your knitted garment is locked in that automatic, you have absolutely no control over the sizing.

With all my equipment ready I took it into the shower cubicle in the bathroom to begin.

Felting in action
Felting in action

It seemed I didn’t need boiling water just hot tap water and our tap water is very hot most of the time.  I half filled the bucket, added some soap powder and put my over-sized knitted hat in the water, along with the tennis balls and then got to work with the sink plunger.

The first thing that happened is that the huge hat, got even bigger.  I would have panicked at this point but I had read that this would be the case so I carried on, plunging and swishing.

The plunging and swishing went on for quite some time and it became hot and heavy work, half bent like that in the shower cubicle.  Every so often (too often I think) I removed it from the water to see what, if any, progress was being made.  For a long time, it seemed like we were going nowhere.  Every now and then I’d plunge it into cold water to see if that kicked off the felting process.

On and on, taking turns and changing the water for more hot, dipping in cold, all the time plunging and swishing and splashing all over the place.

Eventually, we started to see a difference, the fibres were beginning to meld together and the whole thing was actually getting smaller.

The finished product
The finished product

I was feeling quite worn out by this point but there was no stopping.  I think we must have refreshed the hot water about 8 times and very gradually, millimeter by millimeter it was shrinking.

From time to time I was trying it, sopping wet, on my head to test the size and at first it was flopping down over my eyes but then, to my relief it was almost fitting me.

The last centimeter seemed to take the longest but eventually we got there.  When it was a nice snug albeit wet, fit on my head, we declared it done.

Now that we have a second hand twin tub this whole process is so much easier.  We put a very small amount of hot water in the bottom and switch it on for around 9 minutes at a time so that we can check progress regularly.

You can see the completed hat which has since been enhanced by needle felting  HERE.

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