What Happens with Moisture, Heat, and Agitation?

No, this isn’t a blog post about menopause. It’s about doing something you love for four years then suddenly thinking, “Enough.” 

For me, it was socks. I knit sock after sock. Same pattern. Different yarns. I was happy. Content, even. Then a month ago I hit the wall. After knitting over 100 socks, I realized I didn’t want to knit another sock….ever. Done, done, done. Huh. The only thing you gotta wonder is, “What took me so long?”

My new thing is knitting really huge, saggy bags, then putting them in the washing machine. When you apply moisture, heat, and agitation to 100% wool, the stitches sort of melt together. Felt is created. Felting has occurred. As I’ve described in an earlier post, the first time I did this I walked away and by the time I returned, the bag had shrunk so small it wouldn’t hold a Stephen King paperback.

But now I’m getting it. Here’s my next attempt, the long pink thing with the can of corn for size comparison:

After some time in the washing machine, here’s the result:

Isn’t this hilarious? I love it. It’s like a funky stove pipe hat, upside down. I haven’t actually used it yet, but I love it so much I sometimes just carry it around the house.  (Okay, I don’t really do that, ’cause that would just be weird….Wait. As a memoirist I am compelled to tell the truth: Okay, I actually do carry it around a bit.)

I wanted to use up the tail ends of sock yarn skeins, so I started another bag. I had it with me when I suddenly ended up spending some time in the hospital with my stepfather Jim (he’s fine now—a “little” heart attack, then angiogram and stent) until my mom returned from her trip to Vienna. So I knit and knit and knit. I think it calmed both me and Jim down.

Here’s the saggy bag, with little Teddy for size reference:

After the moisture, heat, and agitation? A bag! Or a felted basket…

Balance is a good idea, but I seem to hyper-focus. I can feel myself starting to obsess about felting bags, much as I slid down the “Sock” rabbit hole.

I’ve yet to felt the yarn from our sheep. That somehow just feels too precious to waste, so I need to feel more comfortable before I take that plunge.

But it’s good to change things up now and then….so good-bye socks, Hello, felted stuff!

9 thoughts on “What Happens with Moisture, Heat, and Agitation?”

  1. Perhaps you need to try knitting and felting a sweater for Teddy before winter strikes? That bag looked like it could almost fit him! I like your new obsession. Personally, I have not ventured into doing socks, although I have several books on how-to. I still have 4 or 5 projects from last year to finish in the old knitting bag.

  2. I just finished Hit by a Farm and Sheepish and enjoyed them very much. I live in East Texas with a husband 4 dogs and a new flock of 12 bantams. (my 4 children are grown so I apparently felt a literal need to fill an empty nest.). I really related to your books and appreciated the stories. (My 30 year anniversary is coming up and I’m proud to say I have survived menopause without killing my husband!)

    Anyway I just wanted to say thank you.

  3. I too am smitten by felting. Haven’t yet felted a knitted thing, but have taken piles of roving & created vases and scarves and pumpkins…and it’s a magical process. Congrats on the new obsession!

  4. Natalie, thanks!

    TL—Yes, Teddy is too cute. But he can be a stubborn little guy!

    Knit Ma, good to know.

    Ashling—so you just agitate the roving by hand and it felts? How amazing.

  5. Don’t see myself falling out of love of knitting socks. It’s my go-to when I can’t concentrate on anything else in the world. When I can concentrate, I do lace. Getting into designing now.

    The bags look great. Don’t be afraid to use your home-grown yarn. The sheep are growing more by the minute!


Leave a Comment

The Big Pivot

About Me

After twenty-five years on the farm, I’m adjusting to the adventures of city life. Part of that adjustment is figuring out what I want to write about now, since sheep are no longer part of my daily life. I’m challenging myself creatively by painting with pastels and playing the ukelele as I seek my new writing path.

Get new posts from The Big Pivot in your email:

Enter your email address to receive automatic notifications of new posts.


Occasional Newsletter

Minnesota State Arts Board grant

Catherine Friend is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.