How to Felt Wool in a Front-Loader Washer


Felting wool creations after knitting or crocheting tightens up the finished project and makes the individual fibers less visible. While this process is often done in a top-loading washer, it can also be done in a front loader. Unlike top loaders, many front-loading machines lock during the wash cycle, so there's no way to check on your project piece until after the spin cycle completes. Test-felting a sample swatch similar to your project helps you determine the outcome of the actual project piece, as pieces shrink during felting.

Things You'll Need

  • Knit or crocheted wool swatch
  • Tape measure
  • Pillowcase
  • Finished knit or crocheted wool project
  • Wool-friendly liquid laundry detergent
  • Create a test swatch by knitting or crocheting the wool of your choice using the same stitching style, fiber and needle size as your actual project piece. Measure the piece with a tape measure so you can check how much it shrinks in the wash.

  • Place the test swatch in a pillowcase and tie a knot near the open end of the pillowcase, allowing room for the swatch to move freely.

  • Place the pillowcase inside the washer, selecting the smallest load size. Set the wash temperature to the hottest setting. Add a few squirts of a gentle, wool-friendly detergent, using less detergent than you normally would for a load of this size. The detergent helps bind the fibers.

  • Run a wash cycle, checking on the piece immediately afterwards by untying the pillowcase. Smooth the piece out, removing creases, if any. Measure the piece to test for shrinkage.

  • Place the piece back inside the pillowcase if the fibers are not felted to your liking. Retie the bag and run another wash cycle with a few squirts of soap. Check the piece after the wash cycle and repeat the process as many times as necessary to achieve the desired look, measuring the piece each time.

  • Place your actual project piece in a pillowcase, tying the case near the end so the project has room to move in the wash. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 until satisfied with the results.

  • Rinse the finished piece under cool water, pulling and smoothing it back into the desired shape, if necessary. Pat excess water with paper towels and allow the wool project to air dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use only 100-percent wool fibers rather than blends, or your project can't felt properly.
  • Pay attention to the amount of shrinkage in your test swatch, as this is indicative of how much your final project may shrink. If creating projects intended to be a specific size, adjust the size as necessary to allow for shrinking.
  • Other wool creations such as dryer balls can also be felted in a washing machine.

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