There's one problem with crochet. Each piece has little holes in it. Which is all very well, but what are you to do when you want a solid piece of crochet that won't become a bag or item that little things can fall out of?
Or maybe you want to make something that you can stuff without there being a single, tiny, miniscule hole that the stuffing shows through from?
Here's the answer... maybe! Felted crochet!
And here I'm talking about crocheting a piece from a ball of yarn and felting it using water.
I'm not going to use a washing machine to felt. No - I'm going to do it by hand.
If you want to use a top loader - or even if you don't intend to - this article by Luscious Gracious is very informative.
Here are the main things I have learned from the web about felting:
Other things I have learned:
I would love to felt crocheted cotton - but it seems no can do. Acrylics? Nope. A mixture of wool and acrylic or other yarn? So long as the wool content is pretty high.
As I mentioned above, you can use a top loader, which means you can open it up and see what's happening during the wash. But I don't have a top loader. And with the plumbing where I am, I don't want to bung up any pipes, so it's hand washing for me.
Thicker yarns are, apparently, a little more difficult to felt. (So my first felting project, below, was theoretically doomed, but it didn't turn out so bad.)
It's best to use a larger hook than normal with your yarn, so that the stitches are looser, allowing the threads to rub against each other in the wash and stick to each other nicely. (Again, not something that I have followed so far, but never mind!)
OK, here we have a not terribly suitable yarn for felting, as it's super bulky, but it was the only pure wool yarn I could get my hands on!
This is Rowan Big Wool. It's 100% Merino, which, I have discovered, is an extremely wooly sheep, producing very soft yarn.
Here's my test piece: 15 dc (UK tr) worked for 12 rows.
Measures 5.5 inches by 7.5 inches.
Or 13 cm by 19 cm.
Lego minifigure of Jason Kidd courtesy of my basketball-mad son ;)
What did I do next?
Well, I put my rubber gloves on, and filled the sink with the hottest water I could stand.
Then I added a little soap (washing up liquid I call it - for handwashing dishes, you know) and started to wash my crocheted piece.
Squeeze... rub... scrub... scrunch... batter... mangle it! I really gave it all I had! I'll put up some pix for the next item so you can see. (Although I have an ingenious idea about how to approach my next felting project, as you'll soon see.)
Once I thought the stitches had pretty much disappeared and it looked felted enough, I rinsed it in cold water, and let it dry out. Let's face it - I was exhausted!
For professionally shaped pieces of felt, you'd have to shape them well while drying - but I'm not at that stage yet! (OK - I just stuck it on a radiator.)
Ohhh yeahhh...! Not too bad!
Not brilliant either, as you can still see the rows of stitches.
Another minus point: if I pull this piece apart a little, I can also find tiny spaces.
But it certainly looks and feels like felt!
Measurements: 4.25 inches by 6.5 inches.
Or 11 cm by 16 cm.
I've just worked up a piece in double knitting weight Merino.
I'm going to felt it in much hotter water, without burning my hands.
I'm hoping to use a stack of fantastic pebbles I collected on a beach in Greece this summer, as well as a wooden spoon.