Back In October, I posted a sketch and picture of , 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 left. 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
- 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…