click here to skip ahead if you have chosen the jumper and are ready to begin felting
click here to learn the difference between felting and fulling
I've chosen this jumper from my frog pond... It is a fairly fine knit with small stitches. I would expect that when it felts it will not thicken up too much, and we will probably still see some stitch definition. I have chosen to felt rather than frog this jumper for two reasons. One is because the yarn looks quite fine. I find fine yarns quite difficult to frog. The second reason is all of those beautiful stripes. They look great in the finished item, but will mean lots and lots of joins in the yarn.
First of all, check the fibre content... 100% wool is fabulous. I have heard of people using as low a percentage as 80% wool and still getting good results, but haven't tried this myself.
Also check the care instructions. Does it say hand wash? Or dry clean only? Excellent! Any garment which begs to be treated gently is going to HATE the workout we give it, and therefore felt beautifully. Be very wary if the garment care tag states that it can be machine washed. If so, the wool may have been chemically treated to prevent the fibres matting together... and it WILL NOT felt nicely for you. Now, it doesn't need to be a jumper... you could consider any knitted or crocheted garment... such as cardigan, jacket, poncho, dress, scarf, mittens... anything.
You can jump straight in and felt the garment as a single piece, but I prefer to separate it a little first. I always recommend removing the sleeves, so that they can be dried as a flat piece... without ending up with a big fold down the centre.
Start by turning the jumper inside out, and look at the seams starting from the inside wrist. If it is a store bought jumper, then hopefully the seams will look like this...
See that magnificent row of chain stitches? That is going to unravel so easily. See how they are all 'pointing' to the left? That is the direction you will need to unravel in. Most seams I find unravel from the wrist, to the arm pit and then down to the waist. But it's worth checking the direction that the chains 'point'... because some manufacturers trick you by going the opposite way!
Start to unpick the stitches, and find yourself the 'magic tail'. The magic tail is the very end of the thread, and when you pull gently on it... all those little stitches unravel by themselves.
If you are working with a hand knit, you will just have to slowly unpick each stitch... depending on how the individual has seamed it.
If the seams are overlocked or serged and look like this...
RUN AWAY! NO... you don't really need to run away... but you are better off leaving them alone and felting without unseaming.
So here I have my jumper. The sleeves have been removed. I have also undone the side seams, but not the shoulder ones... as the garment was serged at that point (this is often the case) If there were any buttons, zips, clasps, etc. I would also have removed them before felting. Make sure you hold on to them, because they will definitely come in useful one day!
I also keep the leftover threads. They can always be used for something. Maybe stuffing or padding for another project? My kids like the 'curly bits' for their craft box, and will often paste them onto a collage... or add them as hair, grass, clouds, etc. to their drawings. Some people like to leave them outdoors so that the local birds can add them to their nests.
click here for the next steps in the felting process