Unspun Woollen Throw
For the brave hearted only. DYI at your own risk.
This pattern is for a throw size woollie measuring approximately 130cm x 170cm.
Degree of difficulty: moderate due to the extreme scale, managing the delicacy of the unspun wool and felting the throw.
Please note that while I have done my best to impart my knowledge of this self-taught process, I cannot accept responsibility for the outcome of your efforts. I am very happy to share my process with you but you undertake this task entirely at your own risk. Keep an open heart, an open mind and remember it took me a very long time to develop my method. Crazy things still go wrong for me. Remember we are working with a natural product which we are trying to manipulate with our two hands with the aid of a little technology and a good dose of patience and sunshine. Embrace the learnings. If there are too many variables for you, I completely understand. Give K1S1 a try: no variables I promise.
For best results, please watch the tutorial. My apologies for not having this ready for you. It's only me and I am doing the best I can with the time I have. Bear with me as it will be available soon.
This may be one of the easiest stitches to knit with but it is also one of the most beautiful. My aim is to always make the wool the main event and the humble garter stitch shows off the comforting texture of wool and the extreme scale of the unspun wool perfectly.
Garter stitch is also a great stitch to use while you are getting used to the physical aspects of extreme knitting because it frees you up from having to worry about technical knitting tricky bits and allows you to just focus on your motor co-ordination. Once you get more confident with the process of extreme knitting, try other more intricate complex stitches.
What you will need
1 bump of unspun wool
1 set of K1S1 knitting needles (50mm)
Chair without arms
A clean sheet or covering
Access to hot running water.
Front loading washing machine with a large capacity (mine is 8kgs). Please note, I have never tested my process on a top loader washing machine and so I am unable to say whether or not it is suitable.
Sewing needle and strong cotton thread for finishing the ends once the throw has been felted.
# stitches = #cm
# rows = #cm
Tip: remember to throw out the rule book. A tight tension will drive you crazy when knitting on this scale. I t will also cause the unspun wool to break. Aim for a regular to loose tension where there is no resist between the yarn and needle. You can still achieve beautiful even stitches. You will just have to pay more attention to the process initially.
Set yourself up in a space with plenty of room around you.
Place the bump in front of you and unwind the strand of wool very gently. To avoid breaking the wool, do not apply tension to the strand while you are doing this. Unwind enough wool to allow you to knit a few rows.
Cast on 24 stitches.
I use the cable cast on method but feel free to use whichever method you are most comfortable with.
Tip: stand the needle holding the new stitches in an upright position. It will make your life a lot easier.
Row 1 (RS) K1 * to end of row.
Repeat this row until work measures approx #cm from cast on edge ( approx 30 rows). The work will shrink once felted and so you need to make allowance for that. Please note that this is not an exact science and I can follow the same process and get a different result every time.
I like to cast off using K1,P1* to the end of the row as it creates a lovely clean edge.
Leave a decent amount of wool as the end. You will weave these back into the throw once it has been felted.
Lay the work flat on top of a sheet or table cloth so that the wool doesn't catch on any hard surfaces.
With a pair of snips or small scissors, gently and carefully remove any fly away bits that have formed during the knitting process. Do not cut into the stitches. If a large piece has come away from the strand, gently encourage it back into the strand with your fingers or a felting needle.
You will need to check both sides of the throw. Be patient and don't cut corners on this step. I have found that removing the fly away bits helps to avoid the throw matting together in the felting process. This may be very menial work but it is also meditative and relaxing. I do some of my best thinking when I'm de-flying (pretty sure you won't find that in the dictionary) my woollies.
Just to give you some insight into what is involved, this part of the process can take me up to 6 hours and much more in the case of a larger sized woollie. I am fastidious when it comes to my work. In the context of your own throw, you probably don't need to go to those lengths but be sure to remove anything obvious at the very least.
You are now ready to felt your throw.
Felting is a process by which you agitate woollen fibres so that they interlock and tangle. Unspun wool in its raw form is incredibly delicate and not unlike fairy floss in that sense. Felting the unspun wool helps give the overall structure stability and a robustness it otherwise wouldn’t have.
There are a myriad of ways to felt but my particular process involves wetting the made up piece with hot water and then using my washing machine and a mild laundry soap to felt the woollen fibres. Depending on the size of the piece, I may have to repeat this process several times to achieve the desired outcome.
I place my woollie in our shower recess and use an extendable shower head to wet the wool. You can also use your laundry tub or the bath tub. Please note though that you will need to be able to drain the excess water from the wool before placing it in the washing machine so choose an option that will easily facilitate this.
Spread the woollie out as much as you can and then gently spray the wool with running hottish water (not so hot that you will burn yourself though). I start in one corner of the throw and then work my way around it. I repeat this process on the underside of the throw as well to ensure that every part gets a good soaking with hot water.
You need to handle the wool very gently at this stage. Be careful not place any tension on any particular spot. Use both hands to move the throw around.
You will be able to see which parts have taken up the water and which parts still need a going over. Sometimes it helps to spread unaffected parts out a little so that it can take up the water. Be patient and don't rush.
As a guide, this part of the process can take me up to 20 minutes.
Once you feel like the throw has had a good drenching leave it to drain for about 15 minutes. You may need to move it around a little to encourage drainage as water can get captured within the folds. You need to drain the water otherwise the throw becomes impossible to pick up. Way too heavy!!
When ready, place the woollie either in a tub to carry to your laundry or place it directly into the washing machine very carefully and bit by bit. (My front loading washing machine has a capacity of 8kgs).
Please be careful as wet wool is very heavy. Your floor will also become wet as you wrestle with getting the throw into your machine so be careful not to slip.
Select a delicate setting (30 degrees celcius) and use wool wash. My cycle runs for approx 40minutes and has a gentle spin cycle.
Then walk away and cross everything. Make a cup of tea, eat copious amounts of chocolate and try not to think about it.
Once the cycle is finished, select a regular spin cycle only to remove any excess water. Otherwise the throw will take forever to dry.
Remove your woollie carefully from the machine.
You now need to stretch the throw out into shape. This process is much easier if you have a second pair of hands to help you. If you do, each take the opposite end of the throw and gently stretch the same section of the throw at the same time. Continue this process around the entire throw. It will encourage the stitches to spread apart and find their natural place.
If you are on your own, you just have to muddle through it. I manage to do this by resting the bulk of the throw on something (typically my balcony railing) and stretch out every part of the throw, working in segments. It's a great work out and the results are just as good. It just takes longer.
Once you have given the throw a good stretch, hold the throw up from one end as much as you can to allow it to drop back into a rectangular shape. I do this by holding the throw from one end over my balcony. and allowing it to hang down.
Dry the throw by either lying it out flat or hanging it over large railing. Be careful not to get the stitches caught on anything sharp or abrasive. Use a sheet to rest it on if you are concerned.
The throw can take a few days to dry depending on the weather. Rotate the throw every few hours or so until dry. Don't forget to bring the woollie in at night during this process and find somewhere to lay it out flat. Do not fold the woollie when still wet. It may get smelly.
Once dry, lay the throw back on your work table and weave the loose ends back into the throw following the lines of the existing stitches. I secure the ends in place with needle and thread with an invisible like stitch to the back of the work so the they don't unravel and protrude from the throw. If the end is too long, cut it to the desired length with scissors.
You can leave the ends out. I love this look. It's a little more rustic.
Trim your throw using a blanket stitch. Or not.
Watch the tutorial for instructions. You'll also find many excellent vidoe's on You Tube to help you on your way.