Lately I've been doing rather a lot of felting.
[For the non-knitters out there, felting, or fulling, is the process of beating knitted yarn into submission in the washing machine or using another technique to shrink the knitted item and turn it into a dense, durable mat of fiber].
I love felting, particularly for making toys. But one of the things that always bothers me about felting is using the washing machine. I feel so terrible running two whole wash cycles - all that energy and water! - just to turn a non-essential bit of knitting into a non-essential bit of felted knitting.
If you live in the mid-Atlantic or southeastern U.S., you are well aware that we're in a drought. Most of North Carolina (where I live) is now rated as "extreme" drought conditions. We've got mandatory watering restrictions, and I'm relying mainly on the bucket in my shower to get the flowerbeds through from week to week. So running two whole washing machines full of water (at something like 50 gallons per cycle - oh my god!) just to felt a toy salamander seems kind of... well, insane.
here is my knitted salamander's foot, before felting
So I am on the hunt for low-water felting methods. When I mentioned this at my local yarns store, one of the lovely ladies there suggested this method. While the energy input is still quite high, it definitely saved quite a lot of water.
1. Fill a 5-gallon bucket about halfway with very hot water and a tiny bit of mild soap. Submerge your item to be felted, and a towel, in the bucket, and get them both good and wet. Roll the item up in the towel and tie it shut with a piece of string.
2. Toss the roll-up into the dryer with a shoe or something else for agitation. Set your dryer to the lowest heat setting, and run it for about ten minutes.
3. Check your item to see how well it has felted. Repeat step 2 above until it has felted completely.
post-felting. someday he'll even get eyes and external gills.
I'm still looking for ways to cut the electricity, but this method definitely saved plenty of water, which I hope the real salamanders in my neighborhood creek will be happy about.
Some other things I'm thinking of trying, to eliminate the electricity:
- Needle-felting (done with unspun yarn)
- Sticking the item inside a container and dragging it behind my bike on a short ride
- Using one of those ice-cream makers where you stick the ingredients inside a ball and kick it around the yard.
Any other ideas out there?