When me and the kids were on holiday a few years ago in Pembrokeshire, we went to a medieval fayre thing, and the kids had a go at felting with fleece. In other words, take some stinky sheep fluff, add soapy water and mash it around on a board until it made a flat blob, then hang it in the tree to dry. They enjoyed the mashing but were underwhelmed by the result. As was I. And I didnt warm to random things made this way either ie felt hats and sculptures.
So when I joined Ravelry and came across various photos and whatnot of felted items I paid no attention. Then I saw a pattern for a lovely Solstice bag that I had my eye on. Turns out it was felted. So I put that thought to one side. Then I saw some lovely coloured yarn on sale online, Trendsetters Granito, which happened to be especially for felting. The yarn made me buy it....and so to my first felted bag.
I started with the Sophie Bag. It knits in the round and is easy peasy with just a bit of shaping. The handle is i-cord grafted on with Kitchener stitch, my first go at that and a nice introduction as only 6 stitches :)
And then to the washing machine. A 60 degree wash in a front loading machine with a few pairs of jeans. If I had read as much about felting before I did that as I have since, I would have been way too intimidated to try. There is a ton of information out there about dos and donts of washing machine felting, much of it contradictory. For example, Felting Lore has it that front loader washing machines make felting much more tricky than the top loaders used often in the US. Anyway, I didnt read any of this until it was too late. And by that time, the bag had come out like this:
Hurrah! Ignorance is bliss!! Its like putting your knitting in a magic cauldron, waving your wand and pulling out something completely different. I love it! The bag is fits my purse, phone and lipstick and is perfect for taking out when I dont need to carry all the other extraneous rubbish that usually resides in my handbag. And it is much admired. So much so that I have been commissioned to make one for a friend :)
And of course, I couldnt stop there. One disaster later when I tried to use up some Debbie Bliss Pure Merino that didnt felt (I later read on Ravelry that DB yarns often dont felt as they have been treated to make them washable), I made this out of lovely heather mottley pink 100% wool aran from New Lanark (great price!) and gave it to Rosie's friend as a birthday present. Mindful of the poor carbon footprintingness of doing a 60 degree wash for one tiny item (and my washing machine takes 1.5-2hrs to do that!) I decided to try hand felting in hot water...which kind of worked, but my hands got hot, so I ended up sticking it in the washing machine in the end anyway. I think I need to get myself a plunger.
So I am a felting convert. On the needles is a big bag but maybe I will get around to that Solstice Bag one of these days......