With the holidays around the corner, and gift giving looming for those who practice it, thoughts often turn to handmade gifts, with an emphasis on projects that are difficult to mess up. Due to it’s forgiving nature, felted knits are a surprisingly effective way of creating unique one-of-a-kind garments, purses, jewelry, and home décor, especially for gift giving.
Felted knits, as their name implies, are knitted projects that are felted. Knit on larger than average needles, the later felting process will hide many mistakes or missed stitches in the finished project. This fact is one that may well enable you to attempt a new technique, such as intarsia, with good success. Due largely to their loose stitching, felted knits can be exceptionally quick to knit up and the broad variety achievable in the choices of colour and fit make the projects amazingly customizable.
Almost everyone knows of felted slippers, which are among the warmest and most comfortable in-house footwear ever, while knitted and felted hats are almost equally well known. Less known, however, are the finer felted knits such as jewelry and evening wear.
“Felt It!” Book Review:
There are many good books that detail patterns for felted knits. The one I have frequently browsed, and attempted a few patterns from, is “Felt It!” by Magie Pace, which contains twenty fun projects. The one project I had the most fun with was the flower three petal broach, which was easy to knit and equally easy to felt.
This specific book would make a good Christmas gift for a knitter who was interested in felted knits, and/or in trying more challenging knitting color work techniques. Many of the patterns call for intarsia and fair-isle techniques, and due to the forgiving nature of knitted felt, these projects are an awesome way to practice the techniques without fear of it turning out nasty.
Of course, once you have an idea of the basics of knitted felt, it is often a very easy thing to adapt any basic garment and turn it into a knitted and felted project. The key with knitted felt is to first knit with a yarn that will felt, and then to knit on needles that are at least one size, if not two sizes, larger than what the yarn calls for.
One thing that the book does not mention is a very simple technique for “fixing” or embellishing your felted knits, the technique of needle felting (nothing to do with knitting needles though). With needle felting you can add patterns, silhouettes and other embellishment to any felted knit. An otherwise plan hat can be spruced up with a quick bit of needle felting. While if your joining yarn works loose on an intarsia pattern, or some other misshape causes a hole, a quick bit of same-color needle felting will hide it from all but the most alert eye.
6 Felted Knit Gift Suggestions:
The following are some ideas to keep in mind when creating knitted Christmas gifts.
Knitted and felted baskets can be quick and easy to make out of “buffalo yarn” or pencil roving, and felt up nice and stiffly. A little bit of color-work can personalize the knitting, or a bit of needle felting after the project is felted can make it an eminently personalized gift. For example, for someone into music you could knit in, or felt on, music notes or a bass clef, while for a dear family member you might knit in a few hearts.
Knitted mittens for kids may always go missing, but you can also make felted mittens. This can be done either, by knitting them first and then felting, or by straight wet felting. The same is true with slippers, and with young children the slippers are small and also quickly grown out of, so there is always need for a fresh pair.
Scarves need drape, but that does not mean that you cannot incorporate some felting into a knitted scarf. An awesome way to make a wavy knitted and felted scarf is detailed in “Felt It!” and includes using some “knitted Shibori” techniques.
A good way to utilize some of the stiffer tendencies of knitted felt is to make purses or shopping bags.
Last of all, jewelry is easy to knit up and can always look fantastic. In fact, felted flowers can work as gift topers as well as jewelry in their own right. Other jewelry options include knitted chokers, bracelets, and other necklace options.
Back To You:
Have you ever felted your knitting on purpose? Sometimes it seems sacrilegious to felt one’s hard made knitting, but it can also be great fun. Felted knits are also warmer, and more waterproof, than their regular knit cousins, which is an added benefit if whatever you make is going to be trounced through the snow.