Hand Spinning & Natural Dyeing - Sarah Matthess

Monday, 12 January 2015

How to Make a Felt Bangle

How to make a felt bangle. Here's something for free. I have to just qualify this by saying that there are many ways to make a felt bangle. This is one of them. I have developed other patterns I use, but this gives the basics of just one pattern. 
First take a crochet hook larger than your needles that you will use, and make a chain. In this case I'm knitting up a strip that will be 5 stitches wide, so I make a chain of 6 loops. 
Then cast on your yarn into each loop hole.

 This is what it looks like when you have your 5 stitches through your loops.
 Then start knitting.  This takes trial and error. You will want to make your knitted bangle larger than your finished felted bangle. It will depend on the wool you use, and how much you felt it, as to how much shrinkage you get.  I would work roughly on the idea it will shrink by a third.  
When you have knitted your strip as long as you want it, you will need to cast off. To start with, release the chain at the cast on end. If it won't release and pull out easily, you may have to snip it and pull each strand out bit by bit. Feed each stitch onto your second needle, then holding both needles together, knit 2 off at a time with a  third needle (as the picture below).
It's a bit hard to see what's happening here, but basically as you knit off 2 stitches onto 1, (as above), you will then do that a second time to the next 2 stitches, and then slip the first over the second, to cast off. This joins both ends together with a really neat seam.
So now you have a circle made by joining both ends, and hopefully you left a long 'tail' with which to sew up your raw edges!  Using a darning needle, pick up and join both edges, all the way around, then secure your end by weaving it away into the knitting somewhere.

Now for the fun bit.  You will want a kettle of hot water, as hot as you can handle, and some washing up liquid. I squirt on a fairly generous amount, and begin to work it in with the hot kettle water. I use a paint roller tray that has bumps on it. This will catch the hot water somewhere so you can keep on using it a while until it cools down, and also provides a rough surface to 'work' your piece on, to felt it. The more you rub and agitate, (basically do all the things you are not supposed to do with wool), the nicer it gets. It will be shrinking at the same time.

Do a test of the surface every so often. If you can pinch up fibres between your fingers, then keep working at it. The felt should be well matted. It might take 20 minutes or more. 

I give my felted pieces a soak in a weak vinegar/water solution afterwards to soften and protect the fibres. Then I dry it on a 'form'. (read: old jar!)

Here are a set of 3 that I made to a slightly different pattern than that given above.

Unashamedly as near to an 100% Northern Ireland product as is possible to get! Even the embroidery thread I decorated these with was made in Britain.

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