Friday, September 01, 2006

Report on the big batch of felting

I meant to do a batch of felting earlier in the week, but things got happening. Wednesday we had errands to run and then we went to a Pawsox game in the evening (don't get the cheeseburger and the fries are overwhelmingly salty). Thursday morning I helped Lucy with some Knit-Out tasks, then in the afternoon Himself and I went to the Davis Corn Maze out in Sterling.

Last night I got to felting. My method is to put the item(s) to be felted in the dryer, soaking wet, along with several soaking wet towels. The batch consisted of one Calla Lily from Pickup Sticks (one kit's worth), four daffodils, also from Pickup Sticks, and two hedgehogs from FiberTrends. The hedgehogs are shown top, pre-felting, with a size 7 shearling slipper. Next is the calla lily, also pre-felting, followed by the blossoms of the daffodils.

Everything was put in the dryer all together at 7:40 on high temperature. Everything was done by 9:15 (flowers by 9), checked every 10 minutes or so, so they actually felted quicker. I resoaked the knit items a couple times, the towels once.

The flowers started out very soft and floppy. As they felted, the outer petals thickened and curled up and the inner part curved and thickened, too.

The single daffodil is shown after about 20 minutes of felting, as is the blue hedgehog. The fabric is starting to thicken up, though the front of the hedgehog (all wool) shrunk up faster than the back (all wool yarn held with eyelash yarn). I was concerned about the backs of the hedgehogs not being as well felted, but at 9:15 I was ready to take them out and be done for the night. The beauty with felting, of course, is that if you decide you want to take the felting further you can always start the process again with soaking wet towels, knit item and hot dryer.

Shown on the left is the finished Calla Lily and one of the daffodils. I like how the lily came out and was impressed at how the really fussy knit just a few stitches with each fine gradation of green at the top of the stem really paid off in a stem that blended nicely into the blossom. Since the kit came with all the colors I did it as directed, but I'm not sure I'm going to seek out all the fine gradations in the Cascade 220 to replicate this. Since I liked how the flower turned out, I think I'll try it another time with just a plain dark stem like the daffodils and see if I like that as much. The white really curled up into a bowl under felting, cupping the stamen like a real petal does. I have a feeling there will be a lot of work with the floral wire to keep it properly shaped when it's upright. The daffodil petals curled in the shrinking process. The ruffling in the center portion is a function of the sudden increasing in the last couple rows before the center is bound off. Yes, the one on the right has a yarn end that got loose and felted. It will get trimmed off close once it's all dry.

Last, but not least, here's the hedgehog. I'm happy with it for now but will still reserve judgement over whether it's felted enough. I have a history of stopping the process too early and lately I've been unhappy with my earlier efforts.
Here are pictures of the front and back of the creature. The back has had the wool shrink up so that the eyelash tightens into a better fur. There's still some stitch definition in the front of both this and the blue one, so I may go for further shrinkage before I'm done.

One thing that worried me was whether or not the eyelash would come out in the dryer. One reason I was checking every ten minutes was to make sure the lint screen didn't get clogged. I was surprised at how little came out. I've had the mohair of Lamb's Pride made a worse mess.

The hedgehogs are cute, relatively easy, and don't have to be made in "natural" colors. I have a feeling I'll be getting more eyelash (none in the stash) and working these up with my existing wools to make a batch to give to Precious Pals at the next Granite State Knit-In. Eyes to be made with non-toxic fabric paint.

Wow! Those flowers look great! I can't tell whether or not the hedgehog's belly needs more felting, but it certainly is starting to look cute.
Cool hedgehog. He looks great! I think that and the squirrels are the only animal patterns I do not have (that I would like) yet.
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