One of the things I love most about doing shows is the opportunity to meet and talk with fiber enthusiasts like myself. At a show a few months back, I was talking with someone who was trying to figure out what to do with some roving that she loved. A skilled knitter, she had at one point bought a spinning wheel and some lovely roving with the intention of learning to spin. Even with the best intentions, she just never enjoyed the spinning like she had hoped. She sold her wheel but just couldn’t part with the beautiful roving she had purchased and was determined to do something with it. I sent her home with a plan to felt her roving and make a single ply, thick n thin yarn, a yarn that she could knit with and enjoy. Here is how it is done.
For the project I chose 4 oz. of my hand dyed First Blush roving. It is 100% alpaca and all it needs to felt is heat, friction and soap. So here we go.
You want to make sure at some point before you are done with the felting process that your roving is in one piece. You will want to do this so that when you are finished felting you have one nice, long length of yarn to use. To do this you will need to felt your roving ends together. I try my best to make sure all my roving does come in one piece but every once in a while I will have to add additional pieces to make a full 4 ounce bundle. And sometimes when you are working with roving, before you know it, the fibers seemed to have pulled apart on their own. You don’t have to felt your ends together this early in the process but I find it is much easier to do before too much of the felting has occurred.
My 4 oz. bundle of roving was in 2 pieces. I have put both pieces in separate bags so that I make sure to felt the correct ends together. If you don’t it is very easy to felt two ends that are on the same length of roving and you just end up with a giant roving circle. (I’m too embarrassed to say why I know this can happen so just trust me on this one).
Get your two (separate) ends and lay them together.
Put a dab of soap (I used Dawn) on the place where they are joined and put it under some hot water. Use as hot of water as you can stand. It might even be best to wear some gloves to do this. Rub the soap and hot water into the roving until you have felted the two ends together. This is your heat, friction and soap together which will cause the ends to felt together.
At this point I really should send out a big thank you to my hand model. These are not my hands as I am the photographer and can’t seem to do both things at once. So thank you to my husband Jeff for helping me out on this one.
Once you have felted the two ends together enough that they will stay put, go ahead and bring all the roving out of the bags and into the water. Add a little soap, use as warm of water as you can and just swish the roving around as much as possible. Keep pulling and separating the roving as you go along. Do this so you keep your strands separate. You don’t want to felt it all into a big lump! The idea is to be as rough with the roving as possible, to use as hot of water as possible and add a little soap. Your roving will be felted in no time.
When you feel like the roving has felted down quite a bit go ahead and squeeze the excess water out and hang to dry. Remember, typically you would never, ever treat your fibers like this……..the hot water, rough way we are handling them and wringing them out would felt them in a second. But this time, it is what we want.
Hang your yarn out to dry. You can see that there still might be some felting to be done. This is up to you. If you like the look of your yarn after felting it one time, then you are done. For this project, I did do the felting process twice to get a nice, smooth (albeit thick and thin) yarn.
Here is the finished product, ready to be knit or crocheted. Beautiful, huh?