Felted Knitting Basics

When felted knitting shrinks it’s not possible to control the amount of shrinkage. There are so many great projects you can knit with felting such as pillows, games, and bags or purses. Slippers and other clothing are more challenging, but who doesn’t love a challenge. My motto: “How hard can it be?”

How to choose yarn when doing felted knitting:

The best yarns for felting are 100% wool or other animal fiber yarns. Loosely spun yarns, as a rule, are best the longer the fibers of yarn the better they felt. Avoid wool that’s marked “machine washable”.

  • 100% wool tweed yarn that is superfine or lightweight will create a knitted felt of average thickness.
  • Medium weight wool blend yarn with mohair felt easy because of the mohair content.
  • Yarns of medium weight and bulky weight that are 100% wool tweed yarn will create a thick knitted felt.

Test felting a swatch of your yarn will help to determine how much your swatch will shrink. This is not always an exact science so beware. Each washing machine’s agitation, water temperature, detergent type, and yarn fiber, spin, and colors all vary which can lead to differences in swatches.

First, knit a swatch in stockinette stitch at least 8 inches or 20cm square; you can’t get an accurate test from anything smaller. Carefully, block the swatch if unblocked the edges will felt too thick due to the curling.

Hand Felting:

First test the yarn to see if it will felt, by rolling a 36″ (90cm) long strand into a ball. Add a drop of detergent and rub it together for 2 minutes under hot running water. If the yarn clumps and is hard to pull apart it’s good for test felting.

Then, knit and block a 4″ (10cm) swatch. Submerge it in hot soapy water. Squeeze and need gently agitating and adding more hot water for up to 30 minutes. Rinse and squeeze out the water (do not wring) then roll in a towel. Pat the felted knitting, right side up into a rectangle and leave to dry overnight. If the yarn has felted successfully, test a bigger swatch in a washing machine.

Machine Felting:

Put a swatch in the washing machine along with a large towel to increase the agitation (use a towel for all felting) Add half the amount of detergent you would use for a full load. Wash on the warm setting for yarn that contains mohair. (105F/40C). For 100% wool yarns  use hot water (140F/60C) Wash using a full wash and spin cycle.

Gently tug the washed swatch in both directions then lay it down right side up and pat into a rectangle. Leave to dry completely. If necessary, do more test with new knit swatches, altering the temperature or length of the wash cycle.
Online Knitting Class

Make sure to keep records of gauge, needle size, sizes of pre-felted and felted swatches, wash settings and the type and amount of detergent. A log will come in handy for future projects.


Tips for Felting: 

  1. If you are trying felting for the first time make several test swatches in different, weights of yarn and felt them together in the same load. this way you can get a fell for the different thicknesses of knitted felt.
  2. When using highly contrasting colors, put a color catcher in the machine to absorb the loose dye and prevent colors from running.
  3. Wool will fade slightly when felted due to the high temperatures and the detergent.
  4. Clean your washing machine after felting load by wiping it out with a damp cloth to remove any stray fibers.


Knitting changes character when it’s felted. It becomes denser and usually shrinking more lengthwise than widthwise. Integrated decorate effects can be achieved with knitted stripes or embroidery worked into the knitting prior to felting.

Felted knitting is perfect for all types of projects but can also be done to cut out motifs such as flowers, hearts, and stars for embellishments. Check out last week’s article about fun felted games to knit and this article should help when you get ready to felt your games or any project you choose.

Sheepy Draughts... and a Wolf Too by Aurelie Colas

Sheepy Draughts… and a Wolf Too by Aurelie Colas

**NOTE: If you are a beginner do not attempt a felted garment pattern until you have more experience with felting smaller projects.

Stop by SnugglebuggKnits Yarns we have so many types of wools, mohair, and alpaca which would be perfect for these types of projects. (Do Not buy washable wool for felting projects.)

Fjord Pure Wool Red Pink Cream at SnugglebuggKnits Yarns


Color Options


Happy Knitting




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