Friday, July 21, 2006


My sister had a birthday, while we were traveling. I needed to have a gift that I could easily pack and take along, and pull out on The Day. I also have plenty of handpsun yarn, and I've wanted to try felting some of it. A knitted, felted bag was the end result.

First I knitted the bag:

fekt bag3

I started at the bottom, with about an inch of garter stitch, number of stitches unknown (I just cast on, gasp). No pattern, just knit. Change colors when one color runs out. I knit around and around until I thought the bag was *deep enough*.
Then I picked up stitches on the garter stitch edge and knit the bottom of the bag:

felt bag bottom

I wanted a tote-bag/shopping bag for the farmer's market, something wider than deep, so the produce isn't piled on top of itself and smashing all that goodness. I decreased in four places, making a rectangle.

Then I added I-cord handles, this being the first time I have done attached I-cord (yes, I know, pathetic). The handles were 32" of I-cord, the rest of the top of the bag is reinforced with attached I-cord. The dimensions before felting were 46" around, 20" from the opening to the bottom.

Toss the whole thing in the washer.

We had (operative word) a top loader, and I could let it agitate, then check and reset several times until I thought it was felted enough. At last, I spun out the water, and set the bag up to dry:

felt bag dry

Nice drying rack eh? I had nothing *quite* the right size, but I used the trash can, upside down, and it worked just fine. The bag came out very nicely, perfect size, felted enough to feel sturdy, yadda, yadda, but I forgot to measure post-fulling. It's somewhat smaller than the pre-wash dimensions (duh).

The next morning we were to leave for Aspen, and my husband needed to wash just one more load for the trip.

Dead washer. I had killed it.

My husband was not anywhere near as annoyed as I would have been, in fact, he was almost gleeful. He'd been talking about replacing our old machine for several years, I just didn't see the point: sure it was noisy, but it worked. Why spend hundreds of dollars and add to the landfill, just because? Well, because he wanted a more energy efficient, quieter machine. Time passed. The machine obliged him and died.

We'd often had the discussion of top versus front loaders, and given the amount of time I use the washer for finishing handwoven fabrics, or just spinning water out of yarn or wool, I vetoed the front loader option. I need a washer I can stop mid-agitation, or mid-spin, and check progress.

My husband is a researcher. He gleefully jumped online and began to research just which machine we'd buy. I didn't care (beyond the top loader option) and so, much comparing began, gnashing of teeth, price shopping and deal-negotiating.

Finally we chose the local dealer (higher price, but better service and support-your-local-merchant cachet) and bought this machine.

Me? I'm just glad the thing arrived: yesterday. I'm off to wash a full week's worth of clothes and linens, plus my travel laundry. Who knew one could look so forward to doing the laundry??


Blogger Leigh said...

The felted bag is very clever. On the bottom though, I can see the decreases and the rectangle, but am curious to know if you grafted the stitches or just sewed them together as a more conventional seam?

Enjoy your new washer!

9:31 AM  
Blogger Emma said...

When I felt my knitted bags, I put them in a zippered pillow case. That keeps the fiber out of the washer pump.

Nice looking washer your husband picked out. What brand is it?

12:56 PM  
Blogger claudia said...

If *I* killed my washer felting or (gasp!) fleece washing, I'd surely never hear the end of it.

Cool machine.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Baycolonyfarm said...

Oh yeah, it is always a happy day when a new appliance arrives. :D

I was probably killing our washer with my fleece washing, but it started to leak, which gave me a good excuse to buy a new one. I'll have to do all my felting up at my mother's house since she has the top loader.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I have a front loader and love it. I can wash my wool blankets and sweaters in it (cold and gentle) and they don't felt or stretch.

But I suppose if felting is desired.....

Nice looking new machine.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Birdsong said...

It's too late for this to be much help, but my compromise was to wait till I could find a top-load *just* for felting on Freecycle (you do know there's a Nevada County one, don't you?) and then someday I will get an energy-efficient front loading one for the wash house, but currently we keep supporting Farmer Brown when one dies and replace it with another second-hand one.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I haven't wanted a felted bag until I saw your's. Now I'm wondering how different handspuns I have would work in one bag, if they would felt and size at different rates. I wonder if alternating different wool types would produce a corrugated effect...?

7:48 PM  

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