Monday, October 8, 2012

Felted Knitting with Needle-Felted Designs

I am in full holiday gift making mode. I know that some people do not like receiving homemade gifts, so they don't get 'em.  But some folks and I exchange handmade gifts and (I think) we all really enjoy them (I know I do).  Every year I make soaps, candies and spice mixes for the holidays and I like to create a unique and reusable "gift bag" for them.  This year, I deliberately felted some inexpensive 100% wool sweaters that I got at yard sales (this is a great thing to do with worn, damaged or stained sweaters, as long as most of the knitting is still good and clean).  The "felting" in this context is heat felting, which means taking a 100% wool sweater (also alpaca, mohair, angora wool), washing it in hot water and drying it on high heat in a clothes dryer.  You might have done this accidentally in your early laundry days and come out with a very small sweater. In addition to being shrunken, the sweater has now felted itself, that is, the wool fibers have matted together, and you can cut it with scissors like most any fabric!  I did not believe this when I first tried it, but it is true (though there might be exceptions I have not yet encountered and, if you pull really hard, you can unravel it somewhat).  The top left photo is the result of heat felting a damaged, yard sale, 100% mohair sweater and some of the resulting pieces and a little hand-sewn bag.  To the right of that is the needle-felted gift bag I made for my 10 year-old niece (I will add a ribbon handle or strap).  Below is a bag made from one of the odd shaped pieces, decorated with simple flowers, that I will fill with wrapped candies. It has a button and yarn-bow closure.  In both cases, I used the ribbing of the sweater as a finish: rolled in the face piece and folded in the floral piece.  For the "face bag" I made the hat separately, and needled it on.
Till next time, I'll be needlin' around!