Image: Ryan Brook/TC Media
Knitters will love this handmade felted Easter basket. It's an upgrade from the traditional plastic and will be around for years to come.
What is felting? If you've ever accidentally washed a woollen sweater and pulled it, shrunken and misshapen, from the dryer, you've felted something.
In this craft, you'll just be doing it on purpose. Hot water causes the scales on wool fibres to swell; the friction allows them to interlock, making the stitches shrink. The result is a thick, sturdy and warm material that's perfect for making baskets, bags and slippers.
Note: Felting is a forgiving craft: Your tension isn't very important here because the basket will shrink considerably during the felting process. Be sure to choose yarn that is 100 percent wool and is not labelled "superwash" (meaning it has been treated to make it machine-washable, so it won't felt).
- 1 ball (100 g/3.5 oz; 109 m/120 yards) Patons Classic Wool Roving (we used 77222 Cloverleaf and 77709 Cherry)
- 6.5 mm knitting needles: circular needle (30 cm/12 inches long) and/or 4 double-pointed needles
- Tapestry needle
- 2 large plastic basins Liquid dish detergent Rubber gloves
- Flat-bottomed jar or bowl (about 12 cm/5 inches in diameter)
About 16 sts and 20 rows per 10 cm (4 inches) on 6.5 mm needles
To make a felted bowl, rather than a basket, omit the handle and only knit 20 rows before beginning decreases.
Completed basket measures about 12 cm (5 inches) in diameter.
To Knit Basket:
1. Leaving 20 cm (8-inch) tail, CO 8 sts.
2. Knit handle:
Row 1: K all sts.
Row 2: K2, p4, k2.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until strip is 38 cm (15 inches) long, ending with Row 1.
3. Cast on for basket:
Turn work and, with work on left-hand needle and wrong side facing, use cable cast on to CO 46 sts (54 sts total on needle). Join to work in round, being careful not to twist sts.
4. Knit basket:
With right side facing, work in St st for 30 rows, or until approx 15 cm (6 inches). Begin decreases, switching from circular needle to DPNs when necessary:
Row 1: *SSK, k5, k2tog, repeat from * to end. (42 sts rem on needle.)
Row 2: K all sts.
Row 3: *SSK, k3, k2tog, repeat from * to end. (30 sts rem on needle.)
Row 4: K all sts.
Row 5: *SSK, k1, k2tog, repeat from * to end. (18 sts rem on needle.)
Row 6: K all sts.
Row 7: *SSK, k2tog, repeat from
* 4 times, SSK. (9 sts rem on needle.)
5. Cut yarn. Using tapestry needle, thread end through remaining sts and pull tight to secure. Sew in end on wrong side.
6. Sew free end of handle to basket top.
1. Fill 1 basin with ice water and set aside. Fill second basin with hot (near boiling) water and add small amount of liquid dish detergent.
2. Place knitted basket in hot water. Wearing rubber gloves, agitate fabric with hands, pushing, kneading and scrunching, for about 5 minutes. Remove fabric from hot water and transfer to ice water until cooled.
3. Refresh hot water and dish detergent.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until basket is shrunken and dense, and individual stitches are obscured, 20 to 30 minutes total. Transfer fabric to ice water; rinse well.
5. Squeeze out excess water (do not wring). Roll fabric in towel and press to remove as much water as possible.
6. Pull felted basket over jar to mould into shape, arranging handle as desired; let dry completely.
- CO: cast on
- DPNs: double-pointed needles
- k: knit
- k2tog: knit two together (decrease)
- p: purl
- rem: remaining
- SSK: Slip next two sts knitwise, one at a time, to right-hand needle. Insert tip of left-hand needle into fronts of these sts, from left to right, and knit together.
- st(s): stitch(es)
- St st: stockinette stitch