Fulling and Furoshiki : Today's J’Adore from French Girl Style

Mar 4, 2010

Bonjour Lovelies! Today J’Adore

Furoshiki (Wonderful Japanese Eco-Friendly Wrapping)

Having stumbled across this (I love how the French say par hazard to denote discovering something by chance), as I was preparing my Etsy storefront, it was just too good not to share, and I immediately began thinking of some applications to knitting…bien sûr!

If you’ve ever found yourself somewhere with too much knitting (or yarn) and no way to transport your goodies, and you have a large square scarf or piece of fabric at the ready (we always carry that around, right?), you can fashion your own carrying sack, as the Japanese have been doing for centuries. How artfully practical is this? Take a look at this short video for the basics (my favorite being the wonderful bag and the 2-bottle wine wrap—perfect for toting my favorite French vins). Fascinating, non? Delve further into Furoshiki if you desire with this video link on Furoshiki Gift Wrapping. Or watch it here:

Fulling (By Hand)

Never one to leave a good idea rest for very long, I mused, What about creating your own piece of fabric via knitting, then fulling it lightly by hand to increase sturdiness yet still retain stretch?  Voilà—your own handcrafted furoshiki! I suppose you could really go over the top and work colorful slip-stitch patterns (which would add to the bulk of the final product), or try out a band of cables—possibilities, yes? Endless! Consider it a knit facecloth on steroids or the largest swatch you’ll ever make.  Are you a beginning knitter with tension and gauge issues?  The forgiving nature of the process is just what you need.  Hand fulling gives a wonderful lightweight texture to your knit fabric, if it is knit using a large gauge.  Too tight and it’s a lumpy-disaster-in-the-making!

Here’s what I will use to create my project:

  • About 100 yds of non-superwash wool yarn (I’ll be using my French Girl Luxury Doucette – an alpaca/silk/wool blend).
  • Needles that give you a loose gauge – bump up the needles you would normally use to about 2 – 3 sizes larger (in my case I’ll be knitting with #7’s or #8’s). 
  • Make a small swatch.  Test full (see link below for directions). The trick is getting the gauge large enough so the scales on the wool fiber can get cozy with each other, and they need a little room to do that, yet not so large a gauge as to create too open a fabric—consider it a little adventure!

Aiming for a final product of about 30-32 inches square, do the following:

  • Cast on enough stitches (based on your gauge swatch) to result in about 40 inches in width – then knit in stockinette to about 50-60 inches in length (it will go quickly because of the larger gauge!). The shrinkage will be about 20% widthwise/30% lengthwise. The happy news is that it doesn’t really matter how large you make it—just remember to keep the proportions about 2:3 (width to length).

Time for the hot water bath! Gloves. Soap. Gentle Agitation. Done!

Here’s a much more detailed tutorial on hand fulling courtesy of Beth Brown-Reinsel, with an adorable (and sturdy) fulled children’s mitten pattern as well.

Other tips:

Heavy machine felting results in shrinkage of about half in the lengthwise direction and a third across the width; with hand felting it’s not quite that dramatic because you can control the direction of the felting much more easily (see further directions in the link to the tutorial below); but I would still suggest a swatch, of course, to discover how your particular yarn will behave.

Block out to a rough square (don’t stretch too much), let dry, Furoshiki style tie up and you are on your way.  A crocheted or knitted-on edging added before fulling would be some nice frosting, but remember to keep a loose gauge. Happy fulling!

I’d be very curious to see your finished projects and hear if this worked for you… hopefully mine will be done soon!

In closing, I wish you all a good end to winter with clear roadways ahead. If some of you are setting up an online shop on Etsy or are thinking about starting a blog, it really is never too late to share your creative vision with the world.  I’d recommend this short, thoughtful post by my new amie, Tara Gentile (aka: scoutiegirl). In a world where we are drowning in other people’s opinions and tweets and flickrs, as wonderful as all that is, it’s a breath of spring air to think about finding your own authentic voice.

Photo at left courtesy of Tara Gentile.

Mes Amis, create something beautiful today!  Bon Tricot!

Kristeen Griffin-Grimes

www.frenchgirlknits.com

P.S. More on my Etsy little adventure in the future.

 


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Comments

carenot wrote
on Jun 10, 2010 8:54 PM

the furoshiki was awsome.you could use that to make great summer totes when you get a new bag (a week later) you can take it apart to make something new.

sherylmeans wrote
on Mar 16, 2010 9:19 AM

The Furoshiki is brilliant!  Thanks for sharing it with us.