Your itchy, and maybe moth-eaten, sweater can yield a bunch of comfy new items that will keep you cozy in the coldest of conditions. FELTING is a process using used wool that becomes a new fabric…or a new wool! Amazing and an ultimate recycling approach. [NOTE: If you are allergic to wool, this will NOT work.]
Wool is a wonderful fiber. It’s natural and replenishable. It holds air, retains heat making it a great insulator and it’s water resistant. This makes it a great choice for socks, mittens, gloves, hats, totes, etc. But how do you get past that itch?
FELT IT! Felting is a super easy process that will soften the fibers, making them much less itchy. All that is required is 100% wool fabric, woven or knitted, hot water, soap and agitation. You can do small pieces by hand and it’s a great project for kids. TIP – Medium weight wools work best. For me, the best results come from 100% Lambswool and Merino.
The Felting Process:
Soak – Soap – Agitate – Dry
Soaking in hot water opens the fibers. Soap acts as a lubricant. Agitation allows the fibers to interconnect, creating fabric. Drying compacts the fibers, shrinking the sweater further into fabric.
I like to use my washer/dryer. First I spray or soak each item using hot water and squirt on dishwashing soap. Next, I fill the washer with Hot water and place the items in. I let them soak for a further 10 minutes in the Hot Water to allow the fibers to fully open. Then I run them through the regular wash cycle providing agitation. And finally I dry them in my dryer. It may take several cycles to get the items to felt into fabric.
Is It FELT yet?
Here you can see the sweaters before felting and the same sweaters after 1 full felting cycle. Note the maroon and green sweaters are still showing their knitted loops quite prominently after the first cycle. Your sweaters have NOT become fabric until these loops are gone. I put all 4 through a second felting cycle, but I still need to put the green and maroon through a third cycle to get rid of those subtle loops. ENERGY SAVING TIP – Do your felting with your regular wash. I generally throw mine in with my sheets and towels.
You’ve Got Your Felt, Now What?
Felt is fabric, so you can do any cut and sew project with felt. My favorite quick idea is to use the sleeves as leg warmers. Simple cut the sleeve, pull over your foot with the wrist side at your ankle, Pull up to the knee, or slouch to complete the look.
Looking for a great snow day project? Make some felt slippers!
Your sweater will yield a few pairs of felted slide on slippers. With a few supplies you can create an indoor pair. Cozy toes! It’s a relatively simple project that can be finished in a couple of hours. For a FREE supply sheet and directions, or to purchase pre-made kits, visit the shop.