I was first struck by the felting bug when I found a pattern in one of my new knitting books for felted lambs.
This means that I simply had to make one. I'm a sucker for lambs. I even refuse to eat veal.
Looking at the pattern, I could tell that normally this was a pattern that would scare me off. Not only had I never felted before, but there were some techniques in there that I wasn't familiar with. But I've decided that I'm done just knitting things that I already know how to do well. That's silly. I want to improve my craft and try new things. So away I went.
I procured some wool and cast on. I used a light gray Plymouth Galway Worsted for the body, and KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Worsted in coal for the face and hooves. (Hooves. Couldn't you just die?)
Knitting it actually wasn't bad. I learned how to cast on stitches in the middle of your project and how to do short rows. You made the body all in one piece, aside from a separate tummy and underside of the legs piece that you seamed on. It was kind of fun having this fully formed lamb hanging from my knitting needles. You also make the ears and tail separately.
So, here was my creation when he was done:
Here he is about to undergo his brave, brave journey into the washing machine:
To felt wool, you just stick it in the washing machine in a high agitation cycle with hot water. The books I read advised putting your item into a zippable pillowcase cover, so I went out and bought one. I was very anxious sending the lamb into the case and then into the water, but I put on a brave face and pressed on.
I let him agitate for 5 minutes and pulled him out:
As you can see, he really hadn't felted yet. So I put him back in.
At first, I was real cautious, checking on him constantly as I paced the basement. But eventually, with so little felting going on, I got paranoid, and started agitating him even harder for longer periods of time. After awhile, my basement started to smell like a wet dog and I knew the end was near. Finally, I got this:
Eureka! I left him in for a few more minutes, but no more felting was occurring, so I stuffed him and left him out to dry:
And here is the finished product:
Pretty cute, right? Not perfect. I mean, he's still rather large. This happens with everything that I knit, and I swear I checked my gauge! I was hoping he's look more like a small stuffed toy rather than like something that could actually go graze out on my front lawn. But still, it's not terrible, even if not perfect. I realized one of my mistakes: the pillowcase that I procured was ineffective. Instead of letting the hot water in easily, I got an allergy protectant one and so the water couldn't permeate the fabric as easily. Basically, I'm an idiot. That's why it took so freaking long for him to felt at all. So, next time I'll just use my lingerie bag. I like to think that the half-felted fabric looks real "fleecey."
I did look into googly eyes for him, but they just didn't look right. (I felt ridiculous at the craft store asking for help: "Excuse me, could you please tell me where I can find the eyes?") So I just embroidered some on for him. He could be cuter, but it's definitely a face a mother could love.
So, there you have it. My first felted project. I learned a lot from it, and I'm anxious to try it again. He's currently adorning the top of Mike's desk. I call him Clive.