I saw a strange thing

I was reading the free brochure at Michael’s for a felted bag pattern. They said to add 2 tsp. baking soda to the hot wash water. I’ve never heard this before, and wondered what the purpose would be. These instructions were for a bag knitted out of Paton’s SWS yarn, I think.

PS: I seem to be fixated on felted bags these days. I’m knitting one after another. I think I love selecting new colors and yarns, then finishing in just a few days. Now my goal is to finish the afghan that’s been in my closet for 2 years :teehee:

I’ve never heard of that one either! :shrug:

Maybe to soften the fibers so they’ll cling together better? Or even to set the dyes in the yarns?

I know that adding salt to batiks/dying projects does set the colors.

I always add baking soda to my wash when felting. Now don’t ask me where I read or heard to do that cuz I have no clue. But I do seem to remember that it’s supposed to help the fabric felt a little quicker - I think! LOL Gawd these menopausal memories!

It’s not the first time I hear that, in fact, since i’m browsing for tips on knitting, i’ve always seen that baking soda must be added. I personnaly never felted, but i guess its the abrasive side that make the fiber stick together or something. Anyway, all I wanted to say is that for me, it’s not strange at all. :wink:


I’ve always used baking soda when I felt. Laundry detergent (granules) sometimes sticks to the knitting and never thoroughly dissolves.

I always add baking soda too, years ago I had a book on felting and it said to add a couple tablespoons to the water. Can’t for the life of me remember why… but I do it because I always have.

Reminds me of the story about the woman who was teaching her daughter how to bake a ham. She instructed her daughter to cut off both ends of the ham and place it in the pat. Her daughter asked her WHY. Mom said she didn’t know why, but that was the way her Mom todl her to do it.

They called her Mom and asked WHY do you cut the ends off the ham before cooking it. She said she didn’t know, that her Mom taught her to do it that way. Luckily her Mom (great grandmother to the cook in training) was still alive so they placed a call.

When asked why she taught her daughter to cut the ends off the ham she said, OH, I never had a pan big enough for the ham so I had to cut the ends to make it smaller.

My story for the day…

I’ve seen this too, but never with an explanation. While I’m not a chemist, I thought this article on baking soda was interesting, as was the Wikipedia article.

Apparently baking soda brings the pH of water (especially chlorinated water) into the neutral zone and helps break down proteins. I’d bet that this action helps open the “scales” of wool so they interlace and felt better.

Or maybe the ham was just too big to fit the pan.

I’ve only felted one project and I didn’t use baking soda, no one told me to. It worked quite well without, but I don’t know what the difference would have been if I had used it.

I don’t know about the baking soda. I have heard of it, but never used it. I will next time though and see what happens.

I’ve never heard of that but I’ll try it next time. I’ve become a felting fiend.

Well, maybe it’s for cleaning the yarn. I’ve had some pretty dirty bought new yarns before… I know we put that in our laundry…? shrug

I went to the source, and emailed my question to them. Here’s the response for all to see: (not very earth-shaking but sensible)

[LEFT][FONT=Arial][COLOR=#0000ff]The baking soda helps with the felting process. If you use laundry detergent the softener in it will stop it from felting.[/COLOR][/FONT][/LEFT]

[FONT=Arial][COLOR=#0000ff] [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Times New Roman]Your Friends at Patons, Bernat and Lily.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Times New Roman]Doris Erb[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Times New Roman]Web site, Pattern and Yarn Support[/FONT][/COLOR]


I used detergent for my two felted items. THey felted up great and FAST. I htink it had softener in it because they smelled like it. I’ll try baking soda next time.