the art of *not* felting

Snowpocalypse 2011 has come and gone and I am still alive.  There were times when I was outside digging my way to humanity that it felt like the end of the world.  I’ve heard from several sources that this was one of the worst snow storms to hit the Chicago area like, *ever*.  I can believe it, but then again, I can be gullible.  I’m not going to bore you, dear readers, with tons of pictures of the snow primarily because it all looks the same: white.

I will say this, though. I spent 4.5 hours with my WONDERFUL new (to me) snow blower clearing out a path for my car (roughly 60 feet of driveway), all the while bundled up in some nice, hand-made knits: my cowl and mittens. Only now my mittens are nicely felted.  So I thought I would take a moment to talk about felting.

You know when you buy your first nice wool sweater and then you throw it in the washing machine on hot and then put it in the dryer, all because no one told you any better? Do you remember what the result was? A nice new wool BABY sweater.  The shrinkage happens due to a process that is to some a most desired thing: felting.  Desired except for when it is not.  Typically when a knitter (like myself) intends for an object to be felted, we carefully knit the object about 1.5x the size – i.e. we make it bigger – to accommodate for the shrinkage.  Felting is a great way to end up with a much denser fabric and one that is more sturdy.  Felting something to make a purse, for example, is a cool thing, especially because we know that purses can weigh a TON and that weight would only stretch out something that was *just* knitted.  But that same object felted would be perfect as a purse.

However, there are times when you DON’T want the felting to take place.  Take for example a nicely knit, knit to fit, pair of mittens.  (Yes, I have knit to fit mits.) I wore my mittens yesterday because they are wool and wool wicks away water making them the natural choice for being outside on a cold and snowey and damp day.  Except. Except for when they get wet AND you are constantly starting, stopping, pulling, and pushing a snow blower for 4 hours, thereby causing friction on your damp (’cause they wick away, not repel) knit mits causing them to felt. Yes, I felted the palms of my black knitted mittens yesterday by simply wearing them while snow blowing. Not the backs, just the palms.  Ever so slightly. Felted.

I’ve been trying to monitor the drying process of the knit to fit mittens, stretching them out as they dry, but I’m afraid that the felting is *just* enough to cause a little shrinkage. On the palms only, which means that they no longer fit nicely, but they do still fit.

I guess I can cast on for my next pair of mittens this weekend.  Already have the yarn…no need to panic, I don’t need to spend money. Dad.  (he he…I just want to see if he’ll read down this far…)

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4 thoughts on “the art of *not* felting

  1. Mom, I think what I’m really saying is that to NOT felt my gloves I shouldn’t be working so hard. 🙂 I guess they are my “gee, I need to look good” gloves and not my “oh, I need to go outside and work” gloves.

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