Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Felted Tote Bag

Inspired by the Lunch Bag in Knit One, Felt Two, I am writing up a pattern for the tote bag made from bulky weight yarn using a brickwork slip stitch design. A friend gifted me with three skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in complementary colors. I didn't have enough of any one color, so I used all three and stopped knitting when I ran out of yarn. I finished the top of the tote with an I-cord bindoff and sewed on rope handles. Check back here soon for the pattern and picture.

Fulling / Felting Instructions:

Set washing machine to small load size – determine size based on number of items to be fulled. If there are several pieces, you may need to increase your load size. Set temperature to HOT. Fill the machine and set it for the longest wash cycle available. Use a little detergent if desired.
Place the knitted tote in a pillow case and close with safety pins if your washer does not have a lint filter. Also, front loading washing machines may require more time and a larger wash level to ensure complete fulling.

Toss a pair or two of jeans into the washer along with the pillow case containing the knitted tote. Please do not use towels! Towels give off quite a bit of lint which will stick in the fulled piece and will require tweezers to remove from the fulled surface of the tote (not fun!).

Close the lid and let the washer agitate the piece. After a few minutes, check on the tote’s fulling progress. Pull it out and see if it’s shrunk as much as desired. If the piece has not shrunk as much as desired, stop the washer before it enters the rinse cycle and begin it on another wash cycle.

Once the piece is the desired size, remove it from the washer and place in a bucket. Stop the machine and let the water cool down. Put items back in the machine and run through the rinse cycle to remove any detergent. Allow the washer to spin to remove the excess water, or remove
the tote from the washer and roll it in a towel to remove the excess moisture. It may prevent folds and torqing if you avoid the spin cycle of the washer. The tote will not dry as fast if you do this, since this process does not remove as much water.

Note that if the piece is fulled excessively, the fabric will lose its desirable, flexible texture. Excessive fulling will result in a very stiff, board-like fabric.

Shape the piece and set it aside to dry completely. Trim any ends that may have worked their way out during the fulling process. The tote may be “shaved” if it’s too hairy for your tastes. Just be sure to toss the “whiskers” in the trash rather than running it down the drain.

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