felting on the stovepot
Recently, reading one of my crochet yahoogroups, someone mentioned felting on a stovetop. She said she had recently talked to the owner of a LYS & that the owner had suggested trying it, as an alternative to the more usual machine felting. I was instantly captivated by the idea. I've machine felted multiple times, but living in an apartment complex, I have to pay big bucks to wash a load, and the water's not terribly hot. Sometimes I have to wait for a washer. So, felting on the stove would be ideal. I also thought I could perhaps have more control over the process & dye the item at the same time!
I instantly set out to knit the buttonhole bag, courtesy of Mason Dixon knitting. It was on my mental to do list, and after resting my hands for 4 days (from knitting, that is, not completely resting) and finishing up 5 languishing afghan UFOs that have been sitting for over a year (and more), I felt ready for a "reward". I picked some vintage purple wool & grabbed a couple of leftover skeins of wool, that I knew from past experiences felted fine. The original pattern calls for double strands of bulky & size 15 needles; I used double strands of the worstened weight wool & size 10.5, the largest size circs I own.
The bag knitted up quickly, with just a couple of adjustments due to the difference in gauges/needle sizes.
So, having no idea how to felt on the stove top, I grabbed my biggest pot, brought it to a boil, added a bit of soap & dunked in my bag. I knew I would need to do some temperature changes, so I filled the sink with cold tap water. I stirred the bag around pretty much constantly, occasionally covered the top, and dunked it into the tap water in the sink several times - at least 6 or 7 times.
And the bag stretched out of shape.
And the boiling water got very, very purple.
Dunked in & out of the hot & cold waters again, with absolutely no luck.
Boiled the hell out of it. Started to cross my fingers & chant that this would work. Began cursing that I should have gone online & done some research before trying this.
And then a vague nagging doubt: Didn't I try to felt a hat this way before, and it failed miserably? Oh yeah, I did; early on in my felting career, I had tried it, but didn't dunk it in cold water; I was just using hot. So, the way I was doing it today would work just fine, right??
Well, after an hour, getting burnt several times, and ending up with purple, wrinkling fingers, I gave up. Squeezed out the bag as roughly/harshly as I could, and hung it up to dry. It was way stretched out of shape & definitely not the slightly bit felted. I could have felted it by machine & been done with it by now. It probably would have been half dry as well.
So, now I'm on my trusty (ha, ha) computer & I googled felting on the stove top.
Surprise, surprise: there's very little out there.
A knitty article (http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter03/FEATfelthis.html) from winter 03 briefly mentions it - and recommended against it, because the results were unpredictable & often the garment would bleed funny.
Now he tells me.
I found some mentions of it via blogs, but all they really suggested was to use ice cold water in the sink, and boiling water in a pot. No mention of soap at all. No mention success or failure. Funny mention of hand felting a cat toy mouse here http://www.quantumtea.com/blog/?cat=11 (sounded like it was a failed attempt).