Felted Clutch - Part 1

First post in 2014: I wish all of you a happy, crafty and really great New Year!! 

Today, I've got a premiere for you: For my birthday my sister gave me felt wool. That's something I haven't tried before. So, I started my first felting project! :)
I got about 200g felt wool in wool white and a 50g light plum left over from that wonderful scarf I made some weeks ago. For felting you can use every yarn that's made from 100% new wool. Don't use yarn that's made partly of synthetic material. That won't work. It's simply not going to felt because the synthetic material is added in order to avoid felting while machine washing the clothing. So, if you're bying clothes in a store it will always have an amount of synthetic material so that you can wash your clothes in the washing machine at home.

Anyway, my decision was made soon: I'm going to felt a Clutch bag!
First, I started to think about how my Clutch bag should look like. I came up with the idea that I want to have a knitted cable on one side and the closure of the bag on the other side. And I want to add fabric on the inside of the bag as well. 

The label of the yarn said that the knitted piece will shrink about 30-40% while felting. Therefore, for determining the size of my bag I simply knitted a gauge and then calculated all measurements I needed with a 40%-shrink scope. 
I wanted my bag to be 25 cm wide and about 14 cm high when finished. Plus a 11 cm for the closure. So, the pre-felted knitted piece had to be about 40 cm wide and in total about 70 cm high.
There was also a free pattern included with the felt wool for a pair of slippers. The pattern used stockinette stich, so I used this stich as well. That turned out to be a little bit of a beginners mistake. 
As I finished the knitting part, the whole piece just rolled itself up. And I knew: this is not going to felt how it's supposed to...
But: Nothing to worry about, I found the solution! With just some stiches I kind of sewed the knitted piece onto a towel, so the edges can't curl.  

And there it goes into washing mashine together with three tennis balls, starting the 40°C program. 
Three factors influence the felting process: moisture, temperature and some kind of mechanic treatment. So, in order to felt properly you should not wash it too cold. A minimum of 40°C is fine, you can also wash with 60°C, but this will lead to more shrinking. Wash the knitted piece alone with three tennis balls and a little bit of non-bleaching detergent. Do not add any other clothes (as you're washing anyway...) because they may come out all fuzzy ;)

When the felted piece comes out of the washing machine, it has to be streched into form and somehow be fixed to dry. 
It turned out, the "sewing-onto-towel" idea was the right one, because my piece came nicely felted out of the washing machine :) After drying I measured it again in order to be able to fit the fabric later on and I can say, it shrunk almost exactly by 40%. 
This is how it looked after felting. Nice, isn't it ?! ;) I like the cable very much.

And this is how the Clutch bag, roughly, will look like when finished:

The finishing of the bag you will see in part 2 of this project. I am now waiting for a nice fabric which I will get from a really nice friend of mine, who is also a blogger. Kathi from Naturli.de. :)

Until then: Keep crafting! :)

You can find part 2 here!

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