Sunday, May 13, 2007

Feeling the Felt Love

Flushed with felting pleasure and success*, here's a Ten Things I Love About Felting Crochet List:
  1. Hidden facets of a yarn's personality are magically revealed. Everything--the yarn's fiber content, spin, dye, etc.-- matters.
  2. Felting makes simple stitches new again. I've been crocheting for so long that I thought I'd seen simple stitches do everything!
  3. Feels primal and cozy
  4. Also feels northern, so I get nostalgic because I grew up in Ohio & Wisconsin but have spent most of my adult life in the subtropics (love the smell & feel of wet soapy wool!)
  5. Forces me to use a hook that's normally too big for the yarn. Simple stitches look different--I can see their inner architecture better (uh, I'm on record as being kind of obsessed with crochet because of this), and they feel different-- all stretchy and drapey.
  6. Forces (or frees?) me to take a back seat while a process larger and more mysterious than me (in this case, the unpredictably complex alchemy of felting) does its thing. So it can be a kind of spiritual practice/experience.
  7. Spiritual development aside, it requires and often rewards risk-taking, thinking big, and process orientation. At its most dramatic, I take the "known" (my crocheted piece), and even if I like it as is, I must "cut the ties" and let it go into the "unknown" (felt it) and who knows if I'll like it better on the other side of the "abyss". If I do, the ecstasy is addictive. At times I've had to take a deep breath and close my eyes when felting luxury fibers like cashmere and angora!
  8. Sometimes instead of having to "let go" of a crocheted piece I like, it looks yucky on purpose in preparation for felting (stitches and rows look sleazy, weird shape, etc.). Then I felt with abandon because I have nothing to lose! When it comes out all evenly felted, there's that ecstasy again but for a different reason--I felted straw into gold; or the ugly ducking became a swan; or I salvaged and recycled trash into treasure. (Pick one)
  9. My hands change a bit to maintain the loose gauge with bouncy wool yarns. This is a new skill for crocheters who are accustomed to cotton yarns and threads at normal-to-tight gauge because cotton is dramatically less resilient than many wools. It's not a new skill for me but still it takes an adjustment every time I crochet to felt. When would I crochet worsted wools like this otherwise? Yet it's fantastic practice for crocheting lycra-content yarns with a more standard-size hook. (You need to crochet these yarns in such a way that you don't stretch them while working.)
  10. It encourages lots of crocheters to experience crochet in new ways and challenges them to develop new skills that are important for non-felted crochet too.
Do you feel it too? Feel the felt love?
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*success in the professional sense--more details on the felted design when published!