Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Felted Mittens!

For the first time I tried my hand at making loom knit felted mittens. A friend needed a pair of mittens. He has a large growth on one hand, and I would imagine hasn’t had any gloves or mittens to wear for years. He asked me to make them out of wool, so I decided to felt them to prevent the cold air from getting through the stitches.

I went to the local craft store and purchased Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool, Nature’s Brown color. I never used it before, but I bought Fishermen’s wool for two reasons: I imagined that fishermen get really cold out there on the sea, and this kind of wool would keep them especially warm; and it says “PERFECT FOR FELTING” right on the label. Having used Lion Brand before with great results, I tend to trust what it says on the label. But I knew nothing about felting and I thought it would be a long and tedious process.

As I knit the mittens on the green straight loom using 1 over 2 e-wrap stitch, I asked the online group I’m in about felting. I received excellent responses, one of which led me to http://www.lusciousgracious.com/felt.htm where I found easy to read and understand directions for felting, using a washing machine. After I knit the mittens extra large to allow for shrinking during the felting process, I turned them inside out.

I felted the mittens according to the instructions on the website. They turned out great!

Except for my first try I shrank one of them a little too much and had to knit it over again. The other mitten I was able to stretch over an oatmeal container so it would fit his hand properly, and I stuck a small zucchini up into the thumb so it would retain its shape also. I discovered that the felting process elongated the thumbs on the mittens, but I trusted that I would be able to cut and sew them to the proper size once they dried. I also discovered that I didn’t make the mittens long enough and would have to find something to use for a cuff. I decided on some fleece that I had leftover from a project I had made over 10 years ago (who throws anything away?). I folded the fleece over so I could enclose a strip of elastic inside, to prevent the cold air from getting inside the mittens. This worked out really well. After I had knitted and felted the smaller mitten, I stretched it over a coffee can to dry (and used another zucchini for the thumb).

Then I was able to have him try them on. He was so excited and glad to get them, and they fit perfectly!

I trimmed and sewed the thumbs so they would fit, after I took this picture. Of course, now I may have caught the felting bug since the project was so easy to do, and I’m glad that I bought the Fishermen’s Wool to felt with.


  1. Your mittens are really nice! I love the ingenuity of adding the fleece for the cuff. When I first looked at them I thought you had knitted a cuff with colorwork. Your friend is very lucky!

  2. Great idea of the fleece cuff Greg,also the idea to cut and trim the thumb afterward. Wool once felted can be cut and sew into any shape. I have made flowers that way on Bethany's site. Those look very warm. There is a site somewhere a friend of mine got a pair from and they cut up old wool sweaters, felt them and then cut out the mittens. They totally line them in fleece and she loves hers. They charge $25 to $50 so you did a great thing here for a friend. Keep up the knitting.

  3. Thanks for the comments! Actually my friend did pay me for the mittens. It was worth it to see him so happy.

  4. What wonderful mittens!! Love the cuff idea. Perfect! I've been going back to the beginning of your blog re-looking at your projects. Amazing and so inventive to make just what you want without patterns. Love your work!
    Happy Kknitting!

  5. Thank you so much! Happy Knitting to you too!