Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't Fear the Felt

This is the first in what I expect to be a short series of blog posts documenting my first felting project.

I've been resisting felt for years now. I always told myself it was because I simply loved the soft & flexible feel of knitted fabric, but really I think it's because it's just plain scary to take something I've worked on for many hours and subject it to an irreversible transformation that might well ruin it.

Recently I reminded myself that I used to make pottery, and no matter how many glaze tests you do, you really never know what you're going to get until, two days after the firing, you un-brick the door. And yes, sometimes the piece you spent weeks on is ruined, and you run for the hammer in tears. But sometimes the little tea bowl you made in 5 minutes is nothing short of a gift from the kiln gods.

So, after doing some reading, testing, and murming of a few incantations to gather up all my courage, I turned this...

Into this.

(For anyone reading this who is waiting for the adult version of the duck sock, you now see my diabolical plan in progress. For grown-up ducks, I am going to make felted slippers!)

Here are a few shots to show scale.

Left to right: Duck socks, Blue-Footed Booby socks, felt test sock.

The orange test sock was knitted with Cascade 220 (color #2436) on size 8 needles, following the Blue-Footed Booby (i.e., toddler Duck) pattern. I felted it simply by agitating by hand in the bathroom sink. It took some elbow grease, but otherwise wasn't too difficult to get an evenly worked result. It took me about 10 minutes. It shrank about 25% in length and 12% in width.

I have to say, I'm pretty tickled with the way the result looks. But... well, it doesn't really function all that well. Since felt doesn't stretch, I can barely get this thing onto my daughter's foot, and once it's on, it flops around like a clown shoe (and she made it clear immediately that she did NOT like that).

I've got the next iteration in progress on the needles, and planning to try out some different ways of opening at the instep.

More to come later...


  1. I waiting...
    I too don't trust felting enough to make it something I look forward to.
    I AM looking forward to the Blue-Footed Booby socks for Toddlers.
    And maybe the adult size...

  2. The Blue-Footed Booby socks for toddlers are here.

  3. What a good blogger you are, with your before/after lineups! :) (I usually think of such things *after* the fact.)
    For the opening, what about using a non-felting yarn in that portion?

  4. These are soo cool! Oh for the felted adult size, you should make them go calf high, orange with bumped out red rings to make Big Bird feet!How awesome would Big bird slippers be? My husband would love them!

  5. Very funny duck-socks!
    I am learning to felt right now as well. But we use different method - felting from wool instead of knitting the garnment before.

  6. Great minds think alike. :)

    I am, in fact, working out how to have a knitted cuff on a felted slipper. And I also considered making Big Bird legs -- I think that would be hysterical! But I think I'll start with short cuffs first, this being my first felting project...