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Knitted Felted Hat

Learn how to knit, felt, and embellish a cozy wool hat.

Project by Betsy McCall from San Francisco, Calif.

Betsy started felting to help her quit smoking. This new habit quickly became an obsession, as we'll see when she makes us one of her hip and artsy felted hats.

Materials and Tools:

100g ball of Crystal Palace Yarn's "Iceland" #1015 "new snow" 100% merino wool (or any 100% wool)
16" size 13 circular knitting needles (Crystal Palace bamboo needles)
8" size 13 double-pointed needles
red, black and blue chunks of unspun fiber, 100% New Zealand wool (or any 100% wool)
Ashford's felting needle
plastic foam
dishwashing soap
plastic zippered bag
hot water

Figure A

Steps:

1. Knit the hat, using 100 percent merino wool and big needles to knit a ridiculously oversized hat (figure A).

Figure B

2. Felt the hat.

If you look at wool under a microscope, it looks just like human hair: a shaft of overlapping scales. When submerged in warm water, those scales pull away from the shaft and start to slip around. Add a little soap, and the scales really move. Add some agitation, and the scales start to get crinkly and attach to their neighbors. That's when wool begins to felt. It shrinks, becomes more dense and less flexible.

Figure D

The simplest method for this is to get the hat wet and toss it into a zippered plastic bag with some hand soap. Then rub it around for 20 minutes or until you start to see some felting action. Take it out every once in awhile and try it on. You can adjust the shape and size of the hat quite a bit through felting.

3. Let it dry overnight.

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