Monday, March 1, 2010

Felting and Water Conservation

I have been infatuated with felting knitted items (technically the process is called fulling) for several years now. Something hugely appealing about knitting an item, like a purse, or hat or bag, really large and loose, throwing it in the washer and seeing the results. It’s an unpredictable process that never ceases to generate a little thrill when it finally felts down to what you want.  At right is my version of the Andrea bag - at great pattern that can be found at NotAnArtist's blog here.
However, I can’t ignore the environmental impacts of the process any longer – The process requires hot water and agitation. My practice has been to wash the item(s) in the washing machine by themselves, sometimes three or more cycles. This is nowhere near a full load. So that’s lots of HOT water wasted.

So I just can’t justify that anymore, especially for smaller items like slipper pieces or bags. For the last couple of months, I’ve been experimenting with different techniques to speed-up and improve the results of felting by hand in the sink using as little water and energy as possible. My goal is to find a technique that minimizes the amount of hot water needed, but still yields effective results. A few techniques are promising good results (salad spinner, you say?) but I’m not ready to report anything just yet.

But all this testing has resulted in a pile of felted swatches. What to do with these little pieces that I could not bear to just throw out. So, I’m on a quest to think of new ways to turn these into useful objects.

Use #1 – Business card holder!

Actually, I’m really stoked about this because I really do need some of these – my cards get strewn all over my purse/briefcase. And I’m constantly mixing up mine with the ones I get from other people. So I have two different colors to distinguish and may even get fancy with some needle felting “mine” and “theirs” on each.

I just took two swatches that were pretty close to being the same size, put them wrong sides together and ran a blanket stitch around three sides in a contrasting yarn. Easy and fast.

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