HELP! felt? block?

I’m a new knitter and I finally knit a hat. It’s made out of a really fine thread that was bought from a shop that definetly made its own yarns. I want it to stay the size that it is right now, and I know that yarn shrinks in cold water, so what do I do with it? Do i FELT it?? Do I BLOCK it? Is there a general formula…i am so confused. what is the difference.

Hmm… let’s explain a few things first…

Felting can usually only be done on animal fibers that have not been specially processed so they can be washed. To felt you need hot water and agitation. The fabric shrinks and becomes a solid felt-like fabric.

Blocking is done to make the stitches and tension even. Acrylic doesn’t block well, but most other fibers benefit from blocking. Some acrylic blends do look better, but it’s debatable whether they hold the blocking.

Now, if your hat fits you definitely don’t want to felt it!! It really only needs blocking if you think it needs it. If it’s lace it may look better, but generally I’d say hats just get stretched on your head so it’s not a big deal. Most yarn will NOT shrink in cold water.

Is that what you needed?

Yes, it explains the difference between the two, but what do I to my hat to make sure it stays the same size as it is now? And does blocking increase the size of the fabric?

I made a little swatch today, and washed in the laundry machine with cold water, and it totally felted. I think…

It got really small, fuzzy and tight. Wont this also happen to my hat? How do I wash it, and make it stay the same?

Thank You!

Yes, blocking can make the fabric “grow”. It depends on the fiber content. That’s why it’s a good idea to make a swatch, and wash and block it before you knit your project, unless it’s synthetic yarn. Synthetic yarn doesn’t change size when you block it.

It sounds like it felted all right–but it was the agitation of being washed in the machine that felted it, not so much the water temperature. This also means that your yarn is some kind of animal fiber or animal fiber blend.

If you wash your hat in the machine, it will felt too. If you want to prevent that, hand wash it in cool water with a mild detergent, rinse it out, and roll it in a towel to get out the excess water. Then lay it flat to dry. (Or if you have a wig form, you can put it on that.) It may seem like a lot of work, but in my opinion, it’s the best way to prevent felting. I’ve read that you can soak knit items in your washer and then use the spin cycle to get the water out, but I really don’t like to risk doing that.

If you don’t want to have to do that in the future, then look for synthetic yarns, or you can buy superwash wool. Superwash wool has been treated so that you can machine wash it without it felting or shrinking.

Good luck!

Thanks for the advice. Is there anyway for me to make this hat not shrink? should i just wash it in warm water by hand? or block it?

The best way to make sure the hat doesn’t shrink is to wash it by hand in COLD water, and lay it flat to dry - just like you wash your nice sweaters.

Exactly. Just don’t toss it in the washer and it should be fine.