The holidays, craft shows and family business has gotten in the way of posting. Really, I've had the best of intentions! I've got a minute, so I thought I'd put the first post up concerning the process of making my lightweight felted alpaca cuffs that are being gifted to members of the press at the GBK Gift Lounge at the 2012 Golden Globes. I can't believe it's right around the corner!
Felting, or more technically fulling, is a process where a piece is knit from animal fiber and then shrunk to form a tight fabric. It is durable, water resistant, warm, and can be cut without fraying. Felted wool is also odor resistant, resists wrinkles and is hypoallergenic. It's amazing what a little heat, friction, and water can do!
I started by knitting the cuffs flat. I found that I was able to do so on my lovely knitting machine (I've got a Silver Reed LK150). Love that machine! It's my first knitting machine. It's pretty basic, but a wonderfully sturdy and easy to use tool. It has also sped up the knitting of anything knit in a stockinette stitch (knit one round, purl the next).
I used a lace-weight yarn, and knit the cuffs about 2-3 times as large as they were to end up.
Because they are not knit in the round, I have to then sew them up the side. Most of this seem disappears during the felting process, if I am careful when sewing them up.
Then I threw them in the wash. For my first attempt, I used hot water. Big mistake. The two parts of the cuff sealed together, and I had to pry and snip them apart. I found warm worked better until the cuffs actually started to felt.
The cuffs were stretched and pulled into shape and left to dry.
Next step - needle felting!