As a Visiting Artisan at the Balsams Grand Resort in July this year, not only did I enjoy the abundant food and fantastic natural environs, I was also on the activities calendar twice a day.
The idea was that I would demonstrate how I create my knitted felt hats. I had lots of yarn to knit and embroider hats right in front of people. But let’s face it: watching knitting can be as exciting as watching the grass grow.
The interesting part of making felt is the shrinking in the washing machine, when the hand-knitted fabric transforms into the thick, durable llama/wool felt of the finished hat.
So, I located the employee laundry room, and tossed two large, handknit stocking caps into the industrial machine for the delight of my onlooking students. All was proceeding according to plan, shrinking up quickly…
Imagine my surprise when, after just about half the time it usually takes in my home washer, I took these wild and woolie tribal cousins out of the machine: ”What an excellent example of the unpredictability of the felting process,” I cried!
I can only guess that the Balsams’ employee machine just had more oomph than my regular washing machine, and that the extra agitation resulted in this very furry felt hat. I admit that I was rather startled by these unrefined relatives of my polished Heirloom Handknit Hats… they arrived without warning at (what I thought was) a very inopportune time.
However, I ought not have been worried. One of these Ghengis Hats sold before it was even dry… and the other one generated tons of interesting conversations at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s 74th Annual Fair at Mt. Sunapee Resort this August.
So, Ghengis Hat, I appreciate the gentle reminder: In knitting, as in life, there are no mistakes… just design elements and learning opportunities!