Felted Lace

This is a sad tale of denial.  Denial is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.  (We’ll come back to the overwhelming evidence.)

In my case, denial has caused me to keep knitting a lace stole, pretending that it is not felting as I knit it.

“The subject may deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether.”  This stole is not felted.

“…admit the fact but deny its seriousness.” Yes, it’s felted, but it might look nicer this way.

“Admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility.” It just happened.  Right there in the bag, while I was off knitting something else.  It resents me, that’s what happened.

I started this project nearly a year ago, as a birthday gift for my sister in law.  She asked for a black lace stole, and I figured it would be for her big birthday in late August.  Plenty of time.  I swatched and tried different yarns, stitches, even combining yarns, till I settled on a lovely little 4-row repeat using Malabrigo Laceweight.

The combination was attractive, and  it was a compact enough project to stuff in a little pouch and carry in my briefcase.  I was a little frustrated at how slowly the stole was growing.  I can’t believe how long it took me to figure out that my lovely little 4-row repeat triples the number of stitches in row 1, works the larger number in rows 2 and 3, then reduces down to the original count in row 4.  No wonder it was taking so long to generate a few inches of stole. No problem, I can finish it, I have plenty of time.

I pretty much ignored the slow poke stole for many months, since I have until August to finish.  I pulled it out to work on it one day and discovered it had FELTED.  How could this have happened?  Did my water bottle leak into my briefcase?  (Briefcase is a grandiose term for a giant bag I take to work.)  Well, never mind.  I can probably block it out.  I kept knitting.  Really, I kept believing this would work out.  I spent a whole day at a meeting knitting, and gained about 5 inches.  A week or so later, I discovered that the stole was continuing to felt up as I knit.  I think the Malabrigo couldn’t take the friction of being stuffed into a pouch, and pulled out.  Check out the before and after shots. Or perhaps they are after and before.  Overwhelming evidence.  These unretouched actual real life photos were slightly stretched to demonstrate the difference.  You be the judge.



What sort of person keeps knitting?  What level of denial must you have to even wind a second ball of yarn to keep knitting?  Oh sure, a few people said they thought the felted part looked ‘kinda cool’ –  yeah, thanks for trying to make me feel better.  I was even being greeted by knitter friends with “How’s the mysterious felting lace going?”  I was moving from denial into serious self-deception.  I took Psych 101, I knew I was on dangerous ground.  I finally came to grips with the sad truth.  If this stole is felting as I work, what is going to happen to it when my sister-in-law uses it on a regular basis, which she swears she will?  A felted mess, that’s what’s going to happen.

I finally stopped knitting the felted mess stole, and started swatching for a new stole with some black laceweight mystery cashmere blend from my stash.  This yarn has marinated for many years, and hasn’t felted yet, and does not seem to have developed any resentments.  I also started thinking, since this lace stole was for someone who doesn’t knit, sew, crochet or do any sort of handwork, that a stitch pattern which didn’t require severe blocking would be a better bet.  That is rationalization, also covered in Psych 101.  Back to the swatching seat. I’ll let you know what I figure out.

On the one hand, I wasted many hours knitting a project that was never going to work.  On the other hand, the idea of felted lace is interesting.  I may play around with it. After, all, I have about 4.5 feet of it to work with.



12 responses to “Felted Lace

  1. *pats MLE sympathetically*

  2. Oh dear. Well, if it makes you feel any better, I would have carrried on too. The thing that convinced me is the point about it felting as you wear it. That would have made me stop too.

  3. That is tragic. And what a lovely stole it would have been, too. Now that makes me wonder about the Malabrigo laceweight I have in my stash…it is so soft and lovely, it would make for a great knitting process (maybe that’s why you kept going?) but the product would be no fun if it felted to ruin before it got much wear.

  4. Pick me. I am in that same boat on that same river taking a regular ride. Sorry it’s not going to work out with the Malabrigo.

  5. The Malabrigo lace just mysteriously does that. I knit Stonington with it, and I’m happy with the result, but the yarn does just suddenly go “poof” and turn into fuzz. It’s impossible to frog once it’s been sitting, knit, for a few days. I have more, and I’ll knit with it again, but only for very simple patterns that will look just fine the way it comes out.

    I like that pattern you were knitting!

  6. Hm. I’ve been really tempted to try the Malabrigo laceweight, but after seeing how a friend’s shawl have felted and pilled after a few months wear, and reading this (felting in the bag?!!) I’ll pass. Otherwise I would have just kept on knitting too.

  7. Pfft. How discouraging.

    Obviously denial is more than just a river in Egypt. But apparently just as big.

  8. I’d’ve probably done the same thing in the face of the same evidence. It might have just as mysteriously reversed itself. Somehow.

    Alas, it’s cold when you disembark that river.

  9. I had a similar experience with this yarn. It did seem to be felting as I knitted, especially when I had to rip and re-knit. I made the Lace Ribbon Scarf with it. The result was OKAY, but I wouldn’t buy it again.

    Malabrigo Sock, on the other hand, is to die for.

  10. Oh, urgh. That’s not good… (And makes me wonder what might be happening with the malabrigo lace thing I cast on ages ago and tossed into my pile of WIPs to finish someday…) If it makes you feel any better, I probably would’ve kept knitting, too, long beyond the point of rationality. 🙂

  11. Oh, that’s kind of scary. On the bright side, better now than after you’d given it your SIL? Yeah, I know … grasping … straws ….

  12. Annierose-and-Max (my Ravelry name)

    I Googled “felted knit lace” because I wanted to know if I COULD felt lace without losing all stitch definition. It seems as if with the right yarn, one CAN, but only for a project that won’t get much wear. Thanks!

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