It started with a trip to the thrift store where I bought a few wool sweaters to shrink. Let me tell you, it felt a little weird buying perfectly good sweaters that I was planning to go home and ‘ruin’ in the wash! But I got over it. It’s a fun way to give an old sweater new life!
First I needed some advice. Betz White (of cupcake pincushion fame) has some info about felting and some helpful before & after photos of sweaters that have been successfully felted. The advice I took away was:
- Wash sweaters in HOT water with detergent and dry in a hot dryer.
- Sweaters can have a mix of animal fibers (merino wool, lambswool, angora, cashmere) but no more than 10% nylon (or they will not felt properly.)
- Felting works best in a top load washer but can be done in front-load washers as well.
- If using a front-load washer, throw in a tennis ball to add some friction!
- You may need to run your sweaters through the wash more than once. Properly felted sweaters will not fray. I’m guessing that after you’ve felted a lot of sweaters you start to get a feel for how they will turn out. My 3 sweaters all came out differently because they were different blends. For instance, cashmere makes a very soft but thin felt and a ribbed 100% wool sweater felts up nice and thick.
I’ve got a front-load washer and I could not find a tennis ball but my sweaters turned out just fine – although I did need to put them through the wash cycle twice.
Now that I had a pile of felted wool – what was I going to do with it? Make drink coasters of course!