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No Top-Loader? Felt in the dryer!

When we decided to do the Billington Bag for our April Knit-Along I was excited but also apprehensive; how would I felt the bag? My new washing machine is front loading, and I’d only ever  felted in a top loader.

My bag prior to felting

Before anyone tells you otherwise, you can absolutely felt in a front loader. It may take a bit longer due to the the gentler agitation (which is better for your clothes!) but it’ll happen. Some people throw a few tennis balls in with their item to beat it up a bit. The biggest drawback of a front loading machine is you can’t stop it mid-cycle to check your progress. Most machines are locked for the duration of the cycle to keep you from dumping water all over your floor.

Since the Billington Bag is one that really shouldn’t be over-felted, I tried a different option: felting in the dryer. It’s the same principle as felting in the washing machine (moisture, heat, agitation), you just go about it in a different way.

The basic plan is this:

  1. Thoroughly soak item to be felted in water – ideally for an hour or more.
  2. Place the item in an old pillow case or laundry bag and throw it in the dryer
  3. Get a few wet towels and place in the dryer with your project
  4. Run the dryer, checking every 10-20 minutes 
  5. If necessary, re-wet your project to keep it from drying out

My bag’s total time in the dryer was about an hour. Halfway through I dunked it in the sink again to re-wet everything, so the bag was still a little damp when it was done. I was really pleased with the results.

The same bag, after felting

I think I may prefer felting in the dryer to using a top loading washer. There’s no fishing around in the water trying to find your item, and no racing to catch the machine before it moves on to the next part of the cycle. I’m a convert – a knitter who has made peace with the front loading washing machine.

What about you? How do you felt your projects?

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