How to Full a Knitted Fabric by Hand
Fulling is an easy technique that transforms a knitted piece into something totally different. Hand fulling is a great way to jump into the fulling process, which adds heat, moisture, and tremendous agitation to a knitted, woven, or crocheted fabric made of wool in order to make it shrink. The fabric becomes much stronger, fluffier, and warmer yet is still very pliable.
With hand fulling, you can stop and check the fabric at every stage and as often as you like. You can also adjust the fulling amount per stitch pattern in any given project simply by agitating select stitches more or less.
To hand full a project, follow these steps:
Fill a basin that’s large enough to fit the project with warm to hot water.
Dissolve the soap in the water.
Not a lot of soap is needed — just enough to generate some suds on the fabric.
Immerse the project in the water.
If the water is too hot, use rubber gloves to help you tolerate the temperature. If the water cools before the fulling process is complete, add more hot water.
Start to knead the fabric.
Use your hands to generate friction so that the scales of the wool will open up and fuse to each other. For more agitation, you can use a plunger on the fabric or even scrub the fabric on a washboard.
Refrain from overstretching the fabric or pulling on it too much, and do not rub the knitting together. If you rub the front of a bag to the back of the bag, for example, the two will adhere and the bag won’t open.
Remove the project from the water frequently to check on the process.
If the stitches pull apart easily, then the process isn’t complete. Remember, you want the stitches to become a solid fabric but not total mush.
When the fulling is complete, rinse out the soap in cold water. Squeeze out any excess water.
Roll the project in a towel to soak up any remaining moisture.
Lay the project out flat on a dry towel, away from sunlight, to air-dry.
If you find that your project is taking too long to dry, change out the towel under it after a few hours. You can also place a fan to blow over it.