Can I shrink wool without felting?

I did a search and saw several thread suggesting how to shrink a too-large hat, but they all involved felting. I would like to keep the “knitted” look but shrink a hat just slightly. Can I just wet it slightly and put it in a warm dryer? Or is there another way? This is my first non-scarf project and I’m SO proud of it, I’d really like my 6yo to be able to wear it and still see out from under it. Thanks for any help!

I wouldn’t try that. I would just run some elastic thread through the stitches and fold up the brim and your child should be able to wear it.

What you want to do is called "fulling."
It involves shrinking a knitted fabric in a [I]controlled [/I]way so that the stitch definition remains. (I’m assuming your hat is all wool?) The fabric becomes a bit smaller, thicker and warmer but you can still tell that it is knitted.

It’s hard to control shrinkage in a washing machine or dryer. For something as small as a hat, the best way is by hand, in a basin of hot water with a drop of shampoo or dish soap. Get the hat thoroughly wet, then agitate it with your hands (use rubber gloves) or a small, clean toilet plunger. Depending on the yarn, you should begin to feel and see some shrinkage in about 5 minutes.
Take out the hat and run it under cold water. If it looks about right, squeeze out the excess water, stretch and pat into shape and let it dry. If you want it smaller, give it another two minutes of hot water and agitation. But be careful – too much and you’ll end up with a fully felted hat.

If it’s still too big for your 6-year-old when the fulling is complete, sewing in rows of elastic, as ContiKnitter suggests, is a good fix.

Thank you both. I’ll try the fulling method and let you know how it goes. I really, really, don’t want to add elastic. Because I’m lazy.


AHA!! So simple and yet I didn’t think of it!

I have knit my husband 2 hats for HUNTING in that ugly HUNTER’S ORANGE for Deer Hunting season. And BOTH of them are WAY TOO BIG. Maybe I can put elastic in the Brim and they will stay put. :teehee:

Thanks For Wakling me with an idea of what to do with those hats. I was ready to frog 'em and do it all again![/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/B]