felting · knitting


Back In October, I posted a sketch and picture of cropped official joyella, our hexagon pullover, Joyella. One reader (Jenna) asked an interesting question: I’ve been daydreaming of knitting a garment and intentionally fulling it. My inspiration is the classic ‘boiled wool’ jacket. But my pal Lisa says that won’t work: It would shrink unevenly. The seams would pull. I’d have to knit blocks and trim/cut out the pieces, like a regular sewing project. I know fulling shrinks more in length than width, so my stubborn imagination insists that abundant swatching would allow me to re-calculate the knitting schematics. Since Joyella is not tailored AND the modular pieces are plain stitch, would fulling the completed garment be a less cavalier enterprise? 

Well, in my experience Lisa is correct. It’s difficult to felt a completed garment. The edges get very ruffly and felting a swatch tells you little about how much a garment will shrink. The weight of of all the pieces pulls the fabric in uneven ways. 

Now, in a strange coincidence, about the time Jenna asked this question, Margery and I had just decided to rebuild a Joyella garment into a chair seat cover.I know that sounds like I’m joking, but I’m not! Margery removed the sleeves, sewed up the armholes and the neckline, and threw it in the wash to felt. You can see the results on the leftp1020339.jpg. Most of the piece looks fantastic and the edges ruffle A LOT. For our purposes this is not a problem. You can trim away the excess points and baste the end together with sewing thread to complete the chair cover. If the top side becomes soiled or worn you can undo the basting then put the underside up and re-baste for many more years of wear.

About Jenna’s question – I think you COULD make a successful jacket from Joyella. You’ll want to:

  • Replace the center front hexagon  with 2 half hexagons so the garment becomes a cardigan
  • Test the shrinkage as best you can with a full hexagon swatch. 
  • Take great care to pull up all open edges prior to felting. I like to thread a piece of
  • situate.jpg matching yarn through the edge and pull it up to about 1/2 the edges current length. I use a back stitch at the beg and end and sometimes in between.  After felting if the edge is pulled up too much, just pull to break the thread.  Meanwhile, the ruffling should be held in check.
  • Check the piece often during the felting process.  I have to admit that I felt in a front loading machine (which can’t be opened mid-cycle).  I don’t think I’d attempt to felt a jacket with that machine.

Keep in mind that this is a big experiment and a big investment.  I’d also probably make a Peruvia version before I made a Jasper version.  You have a friend you would enjoy a nice boiled jacket, don’t you? I’ve got a saga to tell about how Margery and I “vigorously discussed” how to best make this chair cover, but that’s a story for next time…

16 thoughts on “hexagaughan

  1. Oh you make me wish I had some chairs that needed their seats recovered! That has to be the best use of a swatch I have seen yet!

  2. Maybe you could use the leftover sleeves of the sweater to make covers for plush arms for a chair that has both the plush seat and arms. That would look awesome I bet!

  3. I’ve had success in reducing wavy edges of felted wool by whipstitching the edges with crochet cotton. I read this tip in Jane Davis’ Felted Crochet. It works. I would also consider making all of the hexagon motifs, felting them, and then sewing them together into the sweater with coordinating thread. That way you could control the sweater shape and size.

  4. I think the chair pattern looks fabulous, infact I love all your hexagon patterns. I was wondering as I am overseas and had to go to great lengths to get your Berroco book one shipped to the UK, if Berroco have considered making some of the popular patterns like Joyella into pdf’s so that we could buy a virtual booklet?

  5. What an awesome new blog! Can’t wait to see all the great ideas coming out of the design studio. Norah, I’m a huge fan. Am currently working on the Tilted Duster. Who isn’t? 🙂

  6. Makes me want to branch way out of my comfort zone right now. Drop all that is on the needles and try this beautiful creation!

  7. I love to make felted projects and am currently just finishing up a pair of felted clogs for my daughter. During the felting process, how come the 2 layers of the slipper don’t felt together? They get the same agitation as the slipper as a whole, but it always opens just fine. I’m really just curious about this. Thank you.

    Oh… and I do LOVE that seat cover! I just recovered mine, darn it, but will keep this is mind for the future. Maybe I could spill things on mine, you know, accidentally. 🙂 Karen

  8. Do you think your ‘vigorous discussion’ might have been similar to our ‘free and frank exchange of views’?

  9. I love your work! When you talk about your interest in hexagons, I keep thinking of a Frank Lloyd Wright house which is built on a hexagonal grid and has hexagonal details. A tribute to the hexagon! Could be an interesting photoshoot location, to be knitting hexagons in the buildings that bring the hexagon to life.

  10. I am howling! You two ladies (aka crazy broads) taking a completed, and gorgeous but that is beside the point, SWEATER=== cutting off the sleeves and making a chair seat cover. Good gravy Miss Avy! 🙂 Not, mind you that the chair seat cover is not absolutely magnificent, for it is. But the whole process of it……………………… wow.

    You and Margery need to eat some chocolate now—- just because!

  11. Great seat cover!

    And one other suggestion about the wavy edges to felted pieces — felt by hand. It takes longer than the washing machine, but as you see the edges and center starting to felt at different rates, you can apply more agitation to the edges and end up with a much more uniform result. (I’ve even gone the other direction and purposely avoided felting the edges so I can have extra wavy, nearly ruffly edges — but that’s a different story:)

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