Nuno Felting

Our knitting group was growing restless.  We were planning our annual pilgrimage to knitting camp at  St. Dorothy's Rest and our teacher had ambitious plans we didn't share. "We want to knit big garter stitch scarves and sit around and drink wine," we told our teacher. "Don't make us think too much." 

 
The entrance to St. Dorothy's, which is just outside the town of Occidental. in Sonoma County, CA. 

The entrance to St. Dorothy's, which is just outside the town of Occidental. in Sonoma County, CA. 

 

She had a plan - something that sounded hard, but was actually easy and fun.   We were going to learn nuno felting, which is the process of felting roving, or unspun yarn, onto fabric.  We assembled outside on the deck overlooking the redwood forest, and gathered our supplies of silk scarves, colorful roving, sponges, soapy water, and bubble wrap.  Somewhat alarmingly, we were given PVC pipes.

Was there going to be some sort of fiber rumble out in the trees? No, it was just part of the physical work of  getting the roving to adhere to the silk. We laid out our scarves on top of the bubble wrap, then made interesting patters with the roving. We wetted the roving with sponges and water. and then rolled the whole thing around the PVC pipe.  

Then came the part where I felt like I was in some sort of crafting olympics. We took our rolled up bundles  and then simulated the action of a washing machine when your favorite sweater accidentally turns into an garment fit for a doll. We rolled our PVC pipes. A lot. Soon we had knitters aggressively rolling their scarf-covered pipes on the deck with their arms, lying on top of the pipe (my favorite), and ultimately, using the pipe as an impromptu foot massager.

For the final step, we separated our scarves from the PVC pipe, made sure the felted bits had properly adhered, and then put the scarf in a plastic bag and whacked it against the deck. This makes the scarf pucker, and made us feel like knitting toughs. 

Here's my scarf: 

 
The agitation of the rolling causes the roving to go through the scarf. 

The agitation of the rolling causes the roving to go through the scarf. 

 

Afterwards, overcome with the novel experience of combining fiber arts and exercise, we rested and planned our s'mores strategy. 

 
Lydia House, where the retreat is held.

Lydia House, where the retreat is held.

 

Teacher does know best. 

Visit the amazing Thea Gray's website for more information about knitting camp.