Washing handknit items

Hi–I’m new to the forum and to knitting. So far I’ve done five rows of garter stitch; obviously I’m on my way to big things, like a washcloth. I’m a quilter, but I’m looking for something a little more portable!

Anyway, here’s my dumb question: If you wash an item in order to felt it, can you wash things that you don’t want to felt? How? Or can you just not wash things that you’ve knitted? Is it a matter of choosing different yarn?

Welcome to the forum!

You can only felt animal fibers and they must be close to 100% so… 100% wool, alpaca, llama… The also cannot be superwash. Items that are called ‘superwash’ have been treated and won’t felt.

You can wash your knitting. Some things will require special care, but acrylic and many blends can be tossed in the washer and dryer. The info is usually on the label.

Generally what causes felting is heat (or sudden temperature change) and agitation. Lighter colours (white and cream) are less easy to felt. Some knitted items will require handwashing, some can be machine washed on delicate and cold cycles. Err on the side of caution.