This isn’t a pattern so much as a description of an experimental project that took ages and turned out pretty much how I had hoped. Use at your own risk (and I can’t promise any help if yours doesn’t turn out the way mine did).
Finished measurements: 170x40cm (see schematic below)
Gauge before felting: 20 sts + 28 rows (14 garter ridges) = 10cm. If your gauge is a little off, I don’t know how much it will matter in the grand scheme of things.
Things I used for this project:
- 6 skeins Malabrigo Lace (100% merino wool, 450 m / 50g skein), shown in Lettuce
- 5mm 24” (longer will also work) circular needle (project is worked flat but a circular needle is needed to hold all the stitches)
- 100 (or so) beer pong balls
- Scrap mercerized cotton
- Top-loading washing machine
- Long-handled silicone spoon
A couple of years ago, my sister showed me a photo on Pinterest of a bright green felted wrap with bobbles all over it. She asked if I could make it. It didn’t look too complicated, and I thought it would make a good birthday gift for her.
After a short hunt, I found the knitting pattern online and purchased it. Sadly, the instructions were extremely vague (no recommended yarn, gauge, needle size, etc.), but the general gist was “knit a rectangle, tie some globe-shaped objects in it, felt it in the washing machine, and you’re done.”
I decided I could figure it out for myself, and went hunting for yarn. A friend had just made a collection of Pussy Hats in a variety of colours and was really happy with the Malabrigo yarn she used. I found some lace weight in a shade called “lettuce” and started swatching.
Several attempts later (experimenting with different needle sizes and yarn held double and single, and, since I have a front-loading washing machine that’s useless for felting, felting in the kitchen sink, using a potato masher), I settled on using a single strand and 5mm needles.
Then I did some math, comparing the gauge (before felting) with the desired finished size (a rectangle 140cm long and 60 cm wide), and figured/guessed/hoped that I should cast on 200 sts and work 4 skeins worth of yarn in garter stitch.
This was extremely boring, and took a very long time.
I started knitting in April of 2017. I did a lot of alfresco knitting that first summer, when the project was still small enough to transport easily. In the fall and winter I sat knitting by the fire, cursing the thin yarn and slippery needles.
My sister and I talked about what to use to make the bobbles. The original pattern suggested using nuts, but my sister wanted larger bobbles, and we agreed that putting nuts in the washing machine was just asking for trouble. Eventually we came up with the idea of using ping pong balls. But it turns out they’re not cheap, so settled for a gross of beer pong balls instead.
I finally finished knitting the fourth skein in the spring of 2018 (I did work on several other projects in between, and took some time off for a shoulder injury.) Unfortunately, after spending several weeks in denial (It’ll be fine! It’ll look longer once it’s off the needles!) I was finally able to admit to myself that my rectangle was too short. However, I had bound off before coming to this realization.
The yarn I had used was no longer available at my LYS. I ordered two more skeins online. They never came. I ordered again. A month later I could get started again. In the meantime, my sister asked if I could change the shape of the piece, from a rectangle to a parallelogram with pointy ends.
This actually made the project slightly more interesting to work on (but I still felt like the miller’s daughter in Rumplestiltskin, facing her third room full of straw). To make the pointy ends I decided to pick up stitches at the bound-off edge, and then decrease two stitches at the beginning of every second row until there were no stitches left. That turned out okay (thank goodness, because have you ever tried to rip out single-ply lace-weight merino?), so I repeated this process at the cast-on edge, being extra-careful to decrease stitches on the opposite side.
I took a picture of my last stitch because I was so happy to be finished.
Next step: felting at my sister’s place. First we spent about an hour wrapping the knitted fabric around the beer pong balls and tying them in place with cotton yarn. We used about a hundred of the balls, give or take.
Then we crossed our fingers and put the piece into the washing machine. We set it to hot wash / medium-sized load, added some gentle laundry soap, and watched like hawks. Beer pong balls float, so I used the long-handled spoon to keep pushing the project into the water. After only about 10 minutes of agitation, my sister pronounced the piece felted to her satisfaction.
After rinsing it in the bathtub and rolling the felted wrap in all my sister’s clean towels, we spread the piece out on her kitchen counter. We admired the felting, and the bobbles, and the very small felted holes that had formed underneath the bobbles. And my sister asked,
“Hey, how are we going to get the balls out?”
Luckily, the beer pong balls were poor quality and kind of squishy, and the felted fabric was a bit stretchy while it was wet. So we popped all the balls out, and then left the piece to dry for a couple of days.
After drying, I discovered (to no great surprise) that my math was a bit off. The finished wrap was narrower than expected, and the pointy parts came out longer that I thought they would. However, overall the finished dimensions work well for a wrap.
So, two birthdays and one Christmas later, the project is done. My sister says it reminded her of the sea anemones that clown fish like to hang out in:
If I ever did this again (which I won’t, but you might, so . . . ), I’d leave a little slack around the beer pong balls so the bobbles might turn out a bit more felty. I might also start adding balls from the middle outwards, to try and avoid the warped part in the centre.
If you make one of these, please let me know how it turns out! I look forward to hearing from you in a year or two!