Saturday, September 4, 2010

Felting with a Front Loader

I was introduced early on in my knitting "career" to felting at a French Market Bag class (ravelry link).  I've made a handful of them now.  At the time, I thought that the only way to felt was in a top loading washing machine.  We had recently bought a front loading washing machine because of their energy efficiency so whenever I needed to felt I had to run to the LYS and borrow their's.  This was good for the shop because I usually added to my stash while I was there, but it was inconvenient. (I'm also trying to be strong and not add to the stash unless it is to make a gift for someone.)

So I started looking around and did find some people who had success with felting in a front loader.  So I started experimenting.  If you are interesting in felting in your front loader please test that you are actually able to stop the washer in mid-cycle and open the door.  I understand that this can be a difficult or impossible process with some machines, but I have no problem with my Kenmore washer.  I just have to push the stop button twice and it unlocks.

After you have determined that your washer will unlock during the cycle, you will need to get your supplies together.  The supplies are very similar to felting in a regular washer...
  1. A lingerie bag to hold your item to be felted.  This will keep fuzzies from getting in the washer and mucking it up.  This is VERY IMPORTANT!!
  2. A few towels.  I usually use some from my rag pile.  I usually use three towels
  3. Here is where it gets a little weird...Tennis Balls.  I use 3 tennis balls when I am felting.  This provides some additional friction/agitation, which is necessary to felt an item.

Step 1:  Put your item to be felted into your lingerie bag.
Step 2:  Put the lingerie bag, 2 towels and 3 tennis balls into the washer.
Step 3:  Shut the door and set your washer to its hottest setting.  On my washer it is the "Whitest Whites" setting.
Step 4:  Once the washer has filled up and starts to agitate set your timer.  This is where it will take a little bit more experimenting.  I have found that it is best for my machine to I let it run for 10 minutes and then I check on it.  I usually have to continue for another 10 minutes, but it depends on the item you are felting.
Step 5:  Once you get the results you are looking for remove the item from the washer and dry it with one of the other towels or you can turn your washer to the spin cycle and let it get some more water out before drying with the towel.
Step 6:  Viola, you have a felted item!  Now you just have to block and wait for it to dry.

Blocking a pair of French Press Slippers for a special birthday girl.  They are complete and probably my favorite pair I've made so far.  I will be giving them to the birthday girl tonight so no finished pictures to share yet.

It is not much different from felting in the regular washer, but without the tennis balls the process takes a lot longer.

Good luck and happy felting!!

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