LESSONS IN FELTING WOOL IN THE DRYER

This is for all of those knitters like me who have a front load washing machine but still want to felt...

I started this pattern knowing that I would have to felt it but having no idea how I would accomplish it since I have a front load washer.  I wanted to make myself a gift and I fell in love with this stocking pattern in the book I Can't Believe I'm Loom Knitting.  My stocking looks nothing like the one in the book...I did not have the size loom that the pattern required.  I knew the pattern would come out different even though I followed the pattern completely because of the size difference.  I am still pleased with the outcome even though I could not completely felt it because the width would be too small if I did.  I like that you can still tell that it's a knit!

OK, so back to dryer felting...I researched online for information and couldn't find anything about it.  I decided to give it a go on my own.  Below is the stocking before I started the felting process.  You can still see the swirl look of the original pattern.  When it felted, the pattern changed significantly and no longer made the candy cane swirls.  I'm assuming this is because I used a smaller loom then the pattern called for!
#dryerfelting #dryerfeltingwool #feltingwool


This is how I did it...Dryer Felting

-First I soaked the stocking in a large pot until it was saturated through.  This is important because wool naturally seems to repel water. My colors ran pretty bad and my white took on a pinkish quality.  I kind of think it gives the stocking an antique look which I like but it was a surprise at first.
-I did not use any shampoo or additives...I've heard that it's unnecessary and of course it would make a mess in the dryer.
-I then squeezed as much water out as I could (gently).
-I placed four tennis balls in the dryer with the stocking. This sounds really bad but doesn't damage the dryer...the balls beating the wool helps the felting process.
-I turned the dryer to the highest heat setting.
-I checked my stocking every 15 minutes until the end when I started checking much more frequently (every 5-10 minutes)...felting is permanent!!  You can always felt it more but you can't undo what's done.
-About a half hour into the felting process, I noticed my stocking was forming hard creases where I didn't want it to.  I solved this problem by stuffing old hand towels into the stocking and forcing it to take the shape I wanted.  I imagine that you could also place a sweater dryer in your machine and felt it flat too.  I'll have to try that in the future!
-At about this time, your fine wool will start to smell like a wet dog lol!
-The entire process took approximately one hour.  The stocking was still wet (which is good).
-I removed the stocking from the dryer and blocked it with a combination of plastic bags and large mason jars.

My conclusion is that dryer felting works quite well.  I felt that (no pun intended), with frequent checking, you still had control over the felting process.  I would imagine that different dryers act differently temperature wise. Mine is a gas dryer and is pretty gentle even at the highest setting, yet it still had no problem felting the stocking.  Keep an eye on the shape of your project as it will tend to want to do its own thing in the dryer.  I imagine this is not a problem in the washing machine.  I would definitely use this method again!

Below is the beginning and finished dimensions of my project for those like me who are curious about the amount of shrinking in the felting process.  I've heard that a good rule of thumb is that the project should start at three times the size you would like the finished project to be.  I did notice that my project was definitely shrinking more in length then in width...thankfully because I used a smaller loom and was very worried about its final width.  Knowing this is important if you are trying to form squares, as in coasters or other items!

Dimensions:

Top of Stocking to Heel:  Before Felting:  23 1/2"   After Felting:  16 3/4"
Toe to Heel:  Before Felting:  15"  After Felting:  11 1/2"
Width of Top Portion of Stocking:  Before Felting:  8"   After Felting:  4 1/2"
Width/Height of Foot Portion:  Before Felting:  6 1/2"   After Felting:  4 3/4"

THANKS FOR READING!

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