Sunday, February 28, 2010

Felting - 'Dhobi'-Style!

Its has been my long-time dream to try felting. And, I finally got around to trying it over the weekend! I being myself, made a felted bag.. Now, its an universal truth that I can never have enough bags.. and, most of mine are hand-made by me! I used the pattern for a felted entrelac clutch by Meg White. Its an awesome pattern and very well-written for a first timer trying entrelac. Did I tell you that its my first entrelac project?! I am totally proud of myself with this bag! My Hubster is impressed too! Here is the finished bag:

I followed this tutorial on hand-felting and, let me tell you.. it is very tiring to hand-felt a big object.. This is how I hand-felted this bag:

I used the yarn Wendy Aristocrat in two colors. I doubled the yarn and knitted the bag body on 6mm straights and knitted the top on 5.5mm cirs as I didn't have circs in 6mm. On hind thought, I should have used 5.5mm needles through out! The colors reminded me of guava fuits.. green on the outside and pink on the insides! Though I wanted the pink to tone down a bit, I am happy with the way it turned out in the end. This is how the bag looked like before felting..

I filled my kitchen-sink with HOT water..added a mild soap to begin with.. and soaked the knitted bag in it. I kept agitating the bag in the sink every 5 minutes. I did this till the water came to a 'bearable' temperature.

Once the water cooled down a bit for me to put my hands in it, I started scrubbing the bag like crazy! Felting took a long time to start. I changed the soap to Surf Excel as the mild soap wasn't cutting it for felting! I had to scrub for 45 mins before I got the light-bulb moment to change the soap. Once I changed the soap, it started felting easily. (Excuse the BIG.FAT.ARMS. here!)

I was merciless while scrubbing. I kinda scrubbed the life out of the bag in typical Indian 'Dhobi'-style. I took the bag now and then out of the water and pounded on and kneaded it to aid the process. When the water became lukewarm, I drained some and added some more HOT water and Surf Excel.

Once it started felting, it went pretty fast.. I quit the scrubbing after the bag shrunk to the size I wanted(or rather after I got tired of the workout). The entire process of hand-felting took me an hour and a half to get the final results. Boy! was I tired or wat?! I think it was pure crafter's adrenaline that got me finish the felting.. I didn't realize it would tire me out so much! So, all those you want to try hand-felting anything substantial, have an energy drink at your side.. ;-)

Tip: To speed-up the process of felting, dunk the FO alternately in cold and hot water during scrubbing. It will be handy to have a bowl or a bucket of cool water. 

After all the elbow-grease in soapy water, I rinsed the bag in clear water and rolled it in a Turkish towel and jumped on it to squeeze the water out! Hubster had the fun of watching me jump like a clown in the middle of the house, though Alvin was immune to it!(And, NO!! there are no pictures to document this step in felting!) Then, I stuffed the felted bag with plushies and towels to give it a good shape and let it to dry on a table and started clicking photos!

Here is the project on Ravelry: Felted Entrelac Clutch!
Pre-felting dimensions: Height: 16 inches; Width: 17 inches
Post-felting dimentions: Height: 14 inches ; Width: 15 inches

It gives me a high to try new and different techniques in my crafty hobbies and I am glad conquered felting! I see more felted FOs in the future! But, all this resulted in Ravelympics 2010 FAIL!! Work was hectic last week and I couldn't think of working on a 300+ stitches-and-still-growing shawl at the end of a tiring day at work and this entrelac bag fit the bill nicely. I would work on a few squares each day and I finished the knitting in 10 days!:-) But, here is my Ravelympics 2010 failure project(Some day soon, I will see it to completion!):

But, I have one more good news on the crafty side! I finally finished hemming the half-circle skirt I made way back in October last year! I followed a few online tutorials and the book Sew What Skirts!! for making this skirt. Despite all the high-school math I recollected about pi and the circumference of a circle, I ended up with a waistline that would require me to put on a few hundred pounds more! so, I made a casing for the waistline and inserted elastic cord through it to make it snug around my waistline! Here is a picture of the skirt after it was finished:

So, it was a highly productive weekend craft-wise..and to top it all, I have an off on Monday on account of Holi! Happy Holi to all.. May this year be colorful and cheerful for all of you!



  1. Did you try felting in the washing machine? Would it be any easier?

  2. happy holi!!!!!
    and thank you for the detailed explanation again!

  3. Wouldn't 'Dhobi-Style' involve a river, a stick and some rocks??? Or at least a concrete ghat? ;^p

  4. And, P.S., is your skirt/pillow fabric mill goods? or handprint or handweave? Where did you buy it, and what was the price??

  5. @Anjali:

    I guess machine felting wud've made it easier! But, I noticed that after I changed to Surf Excel, it felted very easily.. looks like lifebuoy handwash is too wimpy for felting!

    @M: thank you!

    @Z: yea..there were all those things in my kitchen.. the kitchen-sink subbed for the river, my counter for the ghat.. and my hands for the stick! ;-)

    the print cost me 90INR per a shop close to my home. its a mill print not a hand-woven fabric.. but, a good quality cotton print!

  6. Anjali, felting in a fully automatic top-loading washer connected to water heater (geyser) is quite easy. It can be done in a front-loader too, but you don't have the option to continually check and remove the object as soon as it is felted enough; you have to wait till the washer is empty to open it.
    Josie's method, which is a bit strenuous for anything the size of her bag or larger, but not bad for smaller objects, gives the most flexibility. I've even seen ppl felt only a section of a woolen object in a sink or bowl, without getting the rest of it wet.

  7. Though ur felted bag looks fabulous, I still feel sorry for the original which looks fab too....Make one more again and don't felt...:)

  8. Lovely skirt josie! Can we get the complete pic of the lady in the skirt plz.. :)
    and the bag.. before felting looked real nice too!!!

  9. joslyn u hav done a gr8 job. i wonder how u get time.

  10. That story had me giggling. I can only imagine how hard you worked on felting the bag!!! Turned out pretty:)

  11. OMGosh I love this bag, I think I'm going to need to knit it!!
    Good luck with lining it!

  12. A gorgeous collection of fabric's bags -:)))))


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