Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don't Fear the Felt, part 2

So continues the saga of my first felting project... (for part 1, go here)

I am making decent progress on the felted duck slippers. This post documents the development of iteration #2. Sizes and gauge are identical to those of the first felting post. Please forgive the variable lighting in the photos.

I think I've got the basic construction down, now I just have to figure out the shaping & sizing for an adult. The felting process shrinks the length by 25% but the width only 12%, so I'll have to figure out new dimensions for these. The test booties look satisfyingly duck-like, but I suspect they'd be pretty hard to walk in.

1. Fresh off the needles.
In this version, I started working back-and-forth at the point where Duck instructs you to start increasing for the instep stitches. This yields a larger opening than in the original pattern, which is important in this case since the felt will not stretch to fit over the foot. I did not pick up sts around the opening to knit the leg -- I moved this step to after the felting process.

2. Just after felting. Note how in this version, the opening is almost half as long as the foot. It was a lot smaller in the first one I made!

3. Picking up sts around the rim with a crochet hook (this was a HUGE pain. I'll come up with an easier way for the final pattern).

One of the things I'm fussing with here is, I don't want to have a ridge on the inside of the knitted cuff that will rub against the wearer's ankle. This is why you see in the picture above that I pulled loops out of both sides -- I later put the inside loops on one needle and the outside loops on another, and then pulled a loop of working yarn through both the inside & outside loops. This way, the picked-up sts were centered over the rim. But it was a huge pain to get the tension right. There are definitely easier ways to do this, and I am now messing around to find the way I like best.

4. With knitted cuff. The cuff started out with 51 sts, decreased sharply up the instep (dec 2 every row for 6 rows), then a few more rows in pattern before binding off.

5. Comparison to the first iteration (which was knitted whole, and then felted)

More to come...


  1. Just curious...
    Any way to 'save' the stitch openings at the cuff... say, with locking stitch markers, before felting? To hold them open so it's easier to pick up with the yarn later?

    Gawd, these are looking spectacular.
    Forge onward!

  2. Aw shucks, thanks Karen :)

    This is a good suggestion. Maybe I should try using my bookbinding awl to widen the openings. I did notice on the third (!) try that it was easier to get the crochet hook through the fabric.

  3. Thanks for posting about your process! The pattern is nifty to begin with, and it's both cool and instructive to see how you're developing the felted version :)

  4. These might be the cutest creations on earth!

  5. knit a row of waste yarn (cotton) at the top.. unravel the waste yarn and have loops (that are easy to work with, because they will not unravel (ladder)and pick up the stitches.

  6. These are just precious! I gave up knitting awhile back due to carpal tunnel syndrome, but these would be so adorable on my littlest...I just might have to dig out my knitting needles. Felting is something I'd like to try, too. Thank you for sharing. And visiting.

  7. Looking good!

    As to your picking up stitches after felting, I'd use a smooth cotton around the edge before I felted and then replace it after felting.


    I'd use a now felting yarn in an appropriate color and knit the cuff before felting.

    I don't understand why you are pulling loops on both sides like that, it must be a real PITA to do! I understand the reason behind it but working a simple single crochet around the edge and then picking up the stitches from that would give you a very neat/finished transition between felted fabric and knitted cuff and a lot less hassle.

    Eagerly waiting to see more!

  8. The single crochet was something I'd considered, and played with at first. Then I got curious what would result if I did the loops on both sides, and after I got a little ways into it, even though it was a PITA, my stubbornness kicked in. You know how it is.

    I *love* the suggestion of the cotton yarn! Totally going to try that! Thank you Helen & Tracy!

  9. Hi Jeny...I think you might want to put a pair of these through a regular wash cycle to see if you still get the same percentages of shrinkage. The majority of your readers are going to use a machine, so you need to know the results. 25% and 12% are much less than average and it may be due to 1. hand felting or 2. the yarn itself or 3. your gauge or 4. other mysterious factors. The average felting I get is usually somewhere in the 40% and 30% range. I have full faith that you will ferret out all the factors until you find a fine formula that is flexible but not fickle.

  10. Oh dear. Well, I have a front-loading machine so it's not a great choice for felting. This is why I'm doing the felting by hand.

    I'll make some tests to compare results from washing machine vs. by hand and post them with the next entry. I wonder, though, to what degree the delta is impacted by how tightly the garment is knitted to begin with?

  11. These are darling! I second the cotton idea. Or could you just cast on the cuff separately and sew it on later? I prefer knitting over sewing, but if it works better...?

  12. We appreciate you supplying us with such high-quality information. I'd like to suggest some of the best wool-felted products from Felt & Yarn that are handmade, 100% natural, and fairly priced if you genuinely care about animals and want to care for them in every way possible. Visit their extensive selection right now to take advantage of wonderful discounts.