For Make It! Challenge #6, Ranee Galambos challenged me to make a purse inspired by her favorite pet, a Jack Russell terrier named Nina.
“I loved her energy, devotion, intelligence and her company. She was the most amazing dog I ever owned and always made me laugh at her craziness,” Ranee said.
It was my pleasure to design this clutch inspired by such a wonderful furry friend.
I was excited to start this project because I knew it would be a great opportunity to try my hand at felting. I did some research and asked tons of questions, and now I’m ready to tell you all about this very fun and interesting technique that will make your clutch soft and cuddly as well as beautiful.
First, I stopped by my local yarn shop to hear what the experts had to say. When I went straight to the bright white wool, they stopped me and graciously advised that you shouldn’t use bleached white wool for felting because the bleaching process has damaged the fibers. Also superwash or washable wool will not felt. The higher the wool content, the better felted the final piece will be.
More helpful advice came from Kiki and Steven of Luscious Gracious. I recommend checking out their “Murphy’s Laws of Felting,” which provides pretty much everything you need to know. Most importantly, I learned that in felting, a knitted piece will shrink more in height than it does in width. With this in mind, I made a swatch first and recorded the size before and after washing it three times in a top-loading washing machine set to “Whites.” Would you believe that my swatch shrank 20% horizontally and 45% vertically? It made me really glad that I had taken the time to do this test! Designing the pattern 20% wider and 45% taller was a little tricky and the dog that I knit does look a little wonky, but thankfully the dog I pulled out of the final wash had shrunk to the exact size I had anticipated.
Therefore, the best advice I have for you is to make a swatch and wash it in the same manner that you will use to wash the clutch. Record the setting you use and the number of washes it takes to get the level of felting you desire. Then use that information to guide you at the felting stage, because even if you use the same yarn I have used, you’ll most certainly have a better washing machine than the ancient one I used in the basement of our apartment. Most likely yours will take less than three washes!
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