I haven’t done any felting myself but I know that it’s popular with both knitters and crocheters. Now I’ll note here that you don’t have to know how to knit or crochet in order to be able to felt. Wet felting and needle felting are both done with fibers that haven’t been worked together. However, creating structural crochet pieces, like handbags, is easier if you knit or crochet the item first and then felt it.
I’ve learned a lot about this lately from reading the book Felt Frenzy by Shannon Okey and Heather Brack. This book discusses all different types of felting. However, it doesn’t talk much about crochet because Okey is a knitter. There are patterns in the book for knitters who want to felt but none for crocheters. The book does, however, explain a bit about the difference between knit felting and crochet felting and that information could definitely help out a crocheter who is interested in felting. It also provides some interesting information for people who can both knit and crochet. Incidentally, the crochet information for the book comes from Kim Werker and Julie Holetz.
Felting: Knit vs Crochet
Some of the key differences between crochet and knitting for felters include:
- Direction of Shrinkage. When you felt an item, you shrink it. Knits tend to shrink more vertically. In contrast, crochet will shrink more horizontally when felted.
- Retaining Stitch Definition. Knitted items usually don’t retain much stitch definition when felted. In contrast, a crocheted item will often retain its stitch definition even after it’s been felted.
- Texture. JEM Library says that felted crochet tends to be thicker and firmer in feeling than knitted crochet is although Felt Frenzy doesn’t mention this distinction.
Combining Knit and Crochet for Felting
Okey makes several suggestions for felters who can both knit and crochet. For example, she points out that you could put a crochet border around a knit cap before felting. The crochet part is going to shrink more horizontally and get a little bit tighter which can create a nice fit for the hat. Smart!