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Tips and Techniques for felting

bearfelt

One of my newest patterns is Gerry the Felted Bear! We have become quite taken with felting, so in this blog post, we’ll review all the important stuff you need to know. But trust me, it’s easy!

Selecting yarn for a felted project

All of our FreshStitches patterns are made using worsted weight yarn. You’ll notice that most of our cover models are made from Ella Rae, a 100% wool yarn. For most of our patterns, any worsted weight yarn will work – so many of our customers use acrylics (such as Red Heart classic), or their favorite yarn. But when you make a felted animal, you need to take a little more care to select a yarn because you need to pick a yarn that will felt!

It’s important to select a yarn that is made from 100% animal wool. Acrylics won’t work here! Also, select a wool that doesn’t say ‘superwash’. A wool will say ‘superwash’ if it is a wool that can be put in the washing machine. It means that the wool has gone through a special process that removes the fiber that makes it felt – you don’t want to use that for a felted animal!

Here’s an easy way to check if your yarn will felt – if it says ‘100% wool’, and the label says ‘hand wash with cold water only’, then there is a good chance that it will felt!

Different brands felt differently, so you may want to do a test swatch. Also, different colors felt differently. For example, white yarn sometimes doesn’t felt very well: the bleaching process occasionally removes the felting ability of the fiber. That said, many whites do felt, so try a test to find out if yours does!

Okay, so you’ve picked your yarn, and you went ahead and crocheted your amigurumi. Now it’s time to felt! The three crucial ingredients to the felting process are: heat, water and agitation. Here, we’ll talk about three ways to achieve a great felting job.

felting in the washing machine

You’ve probably heard stories of someone putting a hand-knit sweater in the washing machine, and it comes out super-tiny… that’s because it felted! No surprise, then, that the washing machine is the easiest way to felt a stuffed animal. It doesn’t matter if you have a top- or front-loading washing machine: both will work. (You’ll read lots of places where it’s claimed that front-loading washing machines don’t work – but I live in an apartment, and my laundromat only has front loaders, and I’ve never had a problem). If you have a European super-energy efficient washing machine, then you may want to use another method, because super-energy efficient often means that there isn’t enough water to get the felting to work.

So, you have a washing machine. Toss your crochet in, put a tiny bit of detergent in (like, 1 tablespoon), turn the machine to the hottest setting, and let it go! With stuffed animals, you want the yarn to felt as much as possible, so there is no worry about over-felting. If the piece doesn’t felt as much as you’d like, just throw it in for another cycle.

felting in the dryer

If you don’t have a washing machine that will work, you may want to use the dryer. The dryer is hot and spins stuff around, so it’ll felt the yarn just fine!

Soak your crocheted pieces in water, and toss them into the machine. If the pieces are too dry, the dryer will dry them, without completely felting them… so wet is good! Same as above, if the piece doesn’t felt as much as you’d like, just re-wet the pieces, and throw them in for another cycle.

felting by hand

Finally, you can felt by hand. I’m not going to fib – it’s tiring. I have often attempted to felt by hand, and then I get tired and decide to throw the pieces in the washing machine instead! But, if you’re energetic, give it a try.

Fill a tub with hot water- as hot as you can stand. You may want to put on some rubber gloves if it allows you to use hotter water. Toss in a little bit of soap or detergent, and scrub away! You want to agitate the fabric as much as you can – rub it together, twist it, beat it. The difficult part is sustaining the scrubbing long enough to felt the piece, and also to felt evenly around the entire piece.

Give it a try!

So, there you have it! Lots of ways to felt! After you are done felting, stuff your pieces with newspaper to allow them to dry in a nice shape. Once they’re dry, you’re ready to assemble according to the directions in the pattern.
Happy felting!

6 COMMENTS

  1. Stacey SAYS...

    Thanks so much for all of your great information! I just signed up for your Amigurumi class on Craftsy and completed my first bird with much success! I LOVE felting wool yarn, so obviously my next step is to make a felted bird. In your instructions, you say to felt it and then assemble the pieces…this is where my confusion begins. With the bird, you have to assemble it then stuff it and then finish crocheting, so how would you felt it first when you have to crochet around the stuffing in the final rounds? I was wondering what would happen if I finished the entire bird including assembling and stuffing it, then carefully hand felted it…would the stuffing leak out somewhat during the felting process? Also, did I mention I hate hand felting and would much prefer throwing the completed and stuffed bird into the washer…how would that work with the stuffing? Thanks so much for any tips you can offer!

    • Hi there! First, thanks for your compliments!
      You are spot on… the bird isn’t a pattern that’s easy to felt, because you stuff the pieces as you’re crocheting. The bear is a more likely candidate.
      If you stuff the animals first, and then felt it… the stuffing interferes with the felting process and won’t felt as well.
      You could always experiment… but, really, I’d recommend a pattern where you finish crocheting all of the pieces, first.

      • Stacey B. SAYS...

        Thanks so much for clearing that up…I will definitely try felting something pre-stuffed on a much smaller scale…say a ball or something for my two kitties. I am currently working on the bear and I just finished all of her parts, but she was definitely too much work to risk “experimenting” on with trying to felt her pre-stuffed 🙂 Well, she is made from acrylic yarn anyway, so she isn’t even a candidate…however, I have a giant bag full of wool yarn that is just screaming to be felted…it’s just so addictive!

  2. Rosamund Stegen SAYS...

    Is there any way I can weigh down my animals so they stand up .often my chickens are top heavy .
    And just lie down ..

    • It depends on how the final project will be used. If it’s just going to sit on a shelf, I sometimes will add a few fishing weights into wherever on the base it needs the extra weight. 🙂 But some weights are made of lead which is definitely not safe for children! For kids I would add some plastic doll-making pellets. A felted animal should hold them in fine, but if you still have some small holes in your fabric you can tie the pellets up in a nylon knee-high, like I show for these monsters. https://www.shinyhappyworld.com/2018/10/squishy-monster-a-free-amigurumi-pattern.html

  3. Myrt SAYS...

    Thanks for the info. I knitted two of my grandbabies a wool Christmas stocking to felt like the one I made for an early grandchild. However, my old washer played out and the new one didn’t have a center agitator, so their stockings didnt felt at all. 🤔
    Wish I’d known they would felt in the dryer or by hand.