The Joy of Felting: Easy Tutorials & 11 Free Patterns
Want to try your hand at felting? Check out these tutorials and free knitting patterns
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My first felted knitted project was a bookbag out of Charmed Knits, a book of Harry Potter-themed knitting patterns. I used hot pink and black Lion Brand Lion Wool. The lucky recipient was my older daughter Kiersten, who you see right here.
Oh my gosh, she looks so young and adorable! Sniff. Where did the time go…
Excuse me for a moment.
I’m back. Thanks for waiting.
Anyway… the fact that I’d never felted a knitting project before definitely showed in this project. While I adjusted the cast-on stitches for the front and back of the bag, I didn’t do so for the sides. As a result, when I felted the bag, the sides were misshapen and wonky. So they didn’t quite fit the rest of the bag.
This is when I discovered one of the lovely parts of felting: you can cut it without unraveling the stitches! That’s how I fixed the bag. I cut the sides, then sewed them back to the bag to smooth it all out.
You’d never even realize I made a mistake when you look at the bag now. (Yes, about 9 years later, the bag still exists, and my girl still uses it!)
Although the bag turned out fine, I would absolutely not recommend this pattern for a first felting project! Try one of the patterns below instead.
I also wish I’d had one of the handy-dandy felting tutorials below. They’ll have any knitter felting like a pro!
The Benefits of Felting
Felting is a bit of knitting magic. You turn a piece of knitted wool and, no matter how wonky, how many mistakes you made, it all disappears in a mass of felted fabric. It’s a great way to make firmer, sturdier fabrics that create more durable projects.
What I love about felting:
1) It encourages me to do my laundry. (You laugh, but it’s true!) Felting hand-knitted items requires washing, so you need to throw your knitting into the washing machine. And felting requires agitation, so you need to throw other items in with it. I usually add blue jeans and/or bath towels.
2) Your stitches can be less than precise. Felting is so forgiving! If you make a mistake or two, chances are excellent that they will be erased with the magic of felting.
3) It makes really cool, durable projects! Bags, slippers, mittens, hats… some of the most enjoyable projects are felted after being knitted. And you never have to worry about unraveling!
How to Felt
If you’re ready to go all-in with felting, you should know that there are right ways and wrong ways to felt.
For instance, did you know that it’s not the best idea to use a clothes dryer when you’re felting? I did not. I thought using a clothes dryer was a quick route to felting. The trouble is that machine-drying can lead to lopsided fabric.
Tutorial: Felting/Fulling This is a terrific step-by-step tutorial that covers both felting by hand and felting in the washing machine. (And also clears up a little mystery: what’s the difference between “fulling” and “felting”?)
Back to Basics: Fun with Felting and An Introduction to Felting: Tips & Tricks These two Lion Brand blog articles give valuable information about felting.
Felting for Absolute Beginners This Knitty article is less a step-by-step guide and more a collection of valuable tips to help you succeed in felting. A bonus is its suggestion of what you can do with felted swatches. They don’t have to be wasted yarn!
Get Felting with Free Patterns
Ready to try felting? Let’s start with smaller, quicker projects and then move up to bigger, more complex projects.
Felted Pothandle: This pattern produces a bit of felted fabric that slips over a pothandle. It would be especially great for cast iron.
Felted Butterfly: Let’s go from practical to utterly whimsical. These butterflies are delightful, great for decorating a garden or offering to a child as a toy. (The blog page on which the pattern is linked is in French, but never fear; scroll a little past halfway down the page, look for “Free Pattern in PDF,” and click; you’ll get the pattern in English.)
Beginner’s Lucky Pouch: This is a fantastic first knitting project for anyone, new-to-felt-ers or new-to-knitting-ers!
Felted Mouse Cat Toy: Want to make some quick, cute mice for your cat, or perhaps for cats at the local shelter? Try this darling pattern.
Lord John Grey’s Felted Wool Mittens: This pattern was inspired by a series of novels called “Outlander.” But what’s great about these mittens is that they’re simple, plain, and perfect for just about anyone.
Awesome Felted Oven Mitts: A step up from the felted pothandle, these would make great gifts.
Felted Fluff: These slippers look so cute and even more comfy!
The Roses: This has to be the most beautiful felted hat design I’ve ever seen. And it’s not as difficult as it looks; the roses are the result of embroidery – which is much easier on felted fabric than it is on unfelted knitting.
A Petite Felted Bag (2 Handles): Here’s a fun, simple striped tote bag, perfect to use for the beach or the grocery store alike.
Woolly Bully Bag: I love this messenger-style bag. I enjoy its style, and I also enjoy how you’ll knit and felt the shoulder strap. No need to purchase a separate strap!
Beginner Backpack: I’m a sucker for a good backpack, and this pattern seems pretty simple considering it produces a wonderfully practical sack.
Ready to start felting? I think I’m ready to hit the stash and look for some pure wool for a new felting project. And if I make a mistake, at least I know I can cut it out (literally) and fix it!
Hungry for more felting projects? Find more felted bag knitting patterns here!