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Tiplet: Felting & KoolAid Dye

October 4th, 2011 at 00:57 am » Comments (2)

It is always amazing how one discussion leads to another. What started in Crochet Partners as a request for suggestion on wool for a toddler hat, evolved into some great comments on felting.

One of the best was a very basic summary of how to felt, by machine.

And I thank Marty for reminding me of a Tiplet I wanted to share during the last felting discussion.

It is one of those things you pick up when you come at something from a different direction.

So many new people have come to felting by way of Knit or Crochet – that they may have never really learned the basics the way a traditional felter, spinner or weaver does.

I have never quite understood why so many people seem to need to do multiple “washing” – in fsct almost every set of directions you read relating to felting Knit or Crochet, seems to mention multiple runs thru their machine.

So WHY is that not the case for me ?!*? Well, sometimes literally is something in the water, but that effects dying and bread rising more often than not.

So in that “semi conscious” time of the morning, I suddenly realized that what was missing from most if not all of the commonly available instructions for “Machine Felting” of Knot or Crochet (or wovens for that matter) as PRE-Soaking –

Both Felting and Kool-Aid Dyeing require you to presoak, in lukewarm is best, for at least 30 minutes. This helps to get all the fibers possible “opened” and thus more likely to felt or accept the dye.

For felting, my usual method is to fill a bucket with warm to almost hot water in the slop sink next to the washing machine about 1/2 full. Give it a squirt of my “ivory soap” liquid, stir and then use a long dowel or wooden spoon to gently submerge the item. I “weight it” to it stay under water with a heavy dinner plate.

If it won’t stay down, Jaquie Carey’s acrylic covered Kumihimo bobbins add weight to the plate and since they are completely covered in a relatively non-reactive coating (as may be some others).

After about 10 minutes, with the plate still in place, Add a tea kettle of hot water – pour it slowing over the plate so that you are not hitting the fibers directly with the changed temperature.

When the water reaches room temp, the fibers should be nice and open and you are ready to add it to the wash, draining option. We have an unfinished floor with the drain located near the slop sink, so no matter if it gets a bit sloppy. I like to add a sneaker or two to help with the agitation part of the process.

Wash on Hot, Rinse on Cold and you get your temperature change. Some advise to check on the piece from time to time, but admittedly I do not. Instead I am careful to be there when the spin ends so I can remove and shape the project before putting it into the dryer. That is when I do check it about every 15 minutes – shaping if needed, until dry.

Pre-Soaking KA – Mix the Kool-Aid into rather warm water, add the yarn or fibers (again making sure they are submerged, same tricks but usually smaller plate will work.) Soak for about 15-30 minutes until water cools. Now follow whatever felting works best for you.

Here is the link to the first of my Kool-Aid articles or use the Kool-Aid Category.

Enjoy The Making


Fulling or Felting Missing The Step

January 14th, 2010 at 00:21 am » Comments (0)

I started this draft a week or 10 days ago, but since the question came up again today, here is “What Wheat Wrote”

It still needs polishing and pictures to be finished, but you may find it helpful even lacking that.

Every once in awhile (okay more often than not) some little detail of fiber work gets into my head and I don’t know why.

First, just to get my personal obsession with technique name correctness out of the way.

While it is popular to call this felting, technically it is not. It
is more correctly a fulling process – it has to with the what
material you start with, loose fibers (like the rovings and such you see for needle felting) or a fabric woven, knit or crochet.

Fulling can be done to any fabric made from pretty much any natural (plant or protein) although some fibers work better than others with various wools at the top of the list, but ask any weaver, no fabric, handwoven, knit or crochet is finished until it is wet finished

The most common fulling mistake made by those who knit or crochet with the plan to felt the final fabric, is to NOT use a large enough hook or needle to allow the yarns the room they need to first expand, interact, and finally to contract into felt.

For knitting, at least 2 or 3 mm larger is a minimum over the suggested gauge found on the label.

If your yarn label does not give a suggested hook size for crochet, go up 3-5mm over the recommend Knit Needle size

A few months ago, I happened to read a message in one of the crochet groups about fulling which is different than felting, the process of making fabric from wisps of fiber.

That which modifies the fabric into something resembling felt is simply fulling more aggressively.

As I was reading the question in several crochet groups, it just seems that there was a step missing. So I started this insane bit of research, reading and borrowing about 100 books and another 50 or so on line tutorials about the process.

After establishing there was a step missing from “what works for wheat”, the next step was to try to determine why I do it this way.

The question that often is asked had to do with the fulling not getting the fabric hard enough to be a Purse or Tote, or, if it can be done in a front loader (yes it can but you have less control)

But what is the missing step?

It has been my experience the best method is to “soak” the item first in lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes so that the fibers are thoroughly wetted thru.

The above “step” is not usually found in any directions for either
fulling or felting. in any of the several hundred web how-tos or the 100+ books borrowed from the library. It is a tip from one of my weaving books on “finishing fabric” – that for some reason I applied (quite successfully) to microwave dying with Kool Aid)

Next wash in the hottest water possible, even if that means boiling up a pot of water and pouring it in.
For top loading machines, you may be able to add hot water if your machine has one of those compartments to hold your fabric softener or liquid detergent after closing the door.

Use the Longest possible Agitation cycle

Cold water rinse to shock the fibers into contracting,

Spin at least once, maybe even twice – wool can hold up to about 3x times it own weight in water.

In between cycles (this is where those with front loaders loose some control since they cannot stop the machine while it is still full of water)

You may choose (or not) to take a few minutes to pull the fabric into shape (sometimes the stitch pattern or tension of the work may cause uneven felting) This is really important for those with a front loader, because you could not do it during the fulling process.

Machine Dry on the Hottest cycle – stopping occasionally to shape the project as needed.

If you are not satisfied with the hardness of the fabric, you may want to repeat the process use some of the felting techniques that have tutorials “all over the web” – I use a potato master. It is also sometimes handy to keep some fiber back in case you have some thin spots to build up – for small areas you can do this with Felting Needles, then the whole thing gets another trip thru the machine next time I have denims in needs of a good wash.



Fibers Smudged Bleeding or Murky?

August 18th, 2009 at 00:36 am » Comments (0)

One question asked fairly often has to do with fulling, felting and other things that result in color smudges, runs and as mentioned today at Crochet Partners – Murky colors – Last weekish, it was a Quilt Thread bleeding conversation in QuiltArt group

Really the question has two “sections” how to prevent this from happening, and what to do when it does
Next, now is as good a time as any to give another Tuesday Tip aka/ Stock Answer for often asked questions

If you are having this problem consistently or hope to prevent it in the future – there are several things you can try. The easiest precaution and sometimes the antidote is use something like Carbona Dye Grabber in the first (has soap) run thru the felting process – well to be honest, it is the only one I have found which works consistently well – Its box is picture to your right.
Carbona Dye Grabber
Carbona Dye Grabber

This might be a good time to disspell the age old solution, Lemon juice probably will NOT work – yes, it gets recommended all the time for everything from clothing to beads and sometimes seems to help… So let me repeat LEMON JUICE is NOT really a solution ot the Color Run problems. Although some will continue to claim it words for them. And, yes, some will believe it works for them so as a libertarian – they are equally entitled to their opinion.

Lemon Juice no longer usually works for Fabric/Yarn/Fibers is that the the “traditional” lemon juice/citric acid originated BEFORE Polyester and the EPA did not exist back in the day when this method was first (possibly centuries ago) stumbled upon. Today’s dye formulations are often not responsive to the “lemon juice” method of dye stabilization.

Almost any fiber will, at the first washing or two, “leak” a bit of color – that is not all that abnormal for a small amount of “color blending” and in fact that is often one of the “charms” of felting, the merging/melding of colors.

It really becomes a problem in felting when the yarn used has not been properly finished and so has far too much excess/loose dye. And, there are colors (Blacks – Red – Jewel Tones – and others) that are more likely to be a problem. Ask any Counted thread person about Running Reds …

Happily there are some products out there that can/do help and are easily available.

As a person whose close predominates with Red, Pinks, Black, Denim and other Darker colors, I use these all the time. It also helps to “train” children and others to use them ALL THE TIME. As any wife, mother, gi or college student doing their laundry for the first time… Failur to sort is just asking for trouble – however if the situation requires, well, Dye Grabber can save a heap of unhappiness.

Carbona Color Run Remover
Carbona Color Run Remover

For your already completed projects or are guy who did not intend to have pink jockey’s but did need to get that great Red Sweatshirt clean, it may be worth giving Carbona’s Color Run Remover a try. It has especially worked well for me if I had not yet machine dried the fabric (felt, cotton, wools, whatever – a QuiltART List acquaintance recently saved a wonderful project where some Red thread had “run” (even before washing) It also seems to work well on pretty much any plant based fiber.

Hope this helps keep your colors less murky, whether felting or laundering


NOTE: I do not sell these products (but I probably should and will have to look into that for my e-tail store http) Nor, do I receive any benefit other than a free sample package at a trade show (CHA) 5 years ago. Although If they offered me a few coupons, I would not refuse

Needle Felting & Needle Punch, Part II

January 31st, 2007 at 14:35 pm » Comments (0)

So yesterday, I wrote about what felting is, and promised to go on to what you really are doing when using the “felting” needles to push fibers thru some other material.

Needle Punching, or as it is currently probably better know, Miniature Punch Needle Embroidery, for a long time. Not, perhaps as long as felting, but “pretty close”.

Since you already know that Clover is one of my favorite Needle Crafts Tool makers, so here is the obligatory “tool picture” – As with all their products, The Clover Punch Embroidery tool works well for 95% of what I want to do and is reasonably priced.


Needle punching is pushing something from one side of a ground cloth to another. On a larger scale, you may be familiar with the Rug making techniques such as Hooking (PULLING the fabric or yarn or other material from the front/right side facing you or PRODDING, which is PUSHING from back – right side away from you.

When you try to “Needle Felt” with fabric, yarns or threads that do not have the necessary follicles to twist, tangle, mesh and compact, you can’t felt. So you are PUNCHING.

Punching is a WONDERFUL way to embellish, you just need to understand that for a wearable or other object that will be “used” – you will need to use some of the many techniques which exist to “stabilize” the loops/threads/bits of everything from Angelina to Zoo sheddings of needle punching, such as iron-on fusibles or special glues even sometimes for punch needle embroidery, just packing the threads tightly. Without these measures, if you pull on the yarn, thread or even fibers, unless they are able to be felted, they will pull out and frankly “rather easily”.

Part III will be about the tools I use “most of the time”



Needle Felting & Needle Punching

January 29th, 2007 at 09:07 am » Comments (0)

Playing yet another Name Game,

It would seem I am possessed this year with this whole “what’s in a name thing”

But I really prefer when correct names are used unless one is intending to be Entertaining (i.e., I call my blog entries, Blog-A-Mentaries and fellow Blog writers, Blog-A-Venturers, cause you never know what is going to happen.

So, while the introduction over the last few years of attachments and machines – has been great

EXCEPT the almost epidemic of misuse of the functions served by these tools, it is just making me somewhat crazy

Felting is the process by which the follicles found on WOOL (from many animal/protein fibers, but most easily Sheep) are somehow encouraged to wrap around each other.

For WET Felting, there are basically three things needed.
1. A Solution (soapy water works best, but you can do it with even Tap Water) so that the fibers can be encouraged to expand making the follicles “stand out” a bit.
2. Agitation, so they can be encouraged to wrap around each other.
3. Finally Temperature Change, so those expanded follicles not only go back to their original “closed”, but are “set” in their new twisted, meshed, compacted configuration.

DRY Felting, although much less messy and requiring a fair bit more work, essentially tries to do the same thing, but without water/solutions.

Dry Felting is accomplished by the pushing and PULLING of those follicles by the tiny barbs on “felting needles” – creating tangling so that the necessary twisting, meshing and as a result, compacting of the fiber into some form of fabric or 3D shape like my little friend Piccolo pictured here.

Now I know it has become “politically correct” to refer to thread as Fibers, but I do not. WHY because Fibers are really what makes up a yarn or thread or FELT fabric before it undergoes any sort of spinning process to create yarn and threads.

Bottom line …

without that twisting/tangling/meshing compacting you are not making Felt,
you are not Needle FELTING

So what are you doing? Felting, Punching or A Combination, better called

Embellishing & XPressing yourself

Check back in a day or two.

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