1. Get your hands on a 100% wool jumper, scarf, hat (anything really, as long as it is made from 100% wool. It won't work well if it is a nylon mix).
I get my woollen items from friends who have accidentally shrunk them and from charity shops (usually in the sale section because they have been slightly shrunk already or have moth holes). I am trying to set up an arrangement with second hand shops where they give me their shrunk, therefore unsellable woollen items so I can rescue them from being discarded.
This one I bought yesterday was in the sale section because it was already slightly shrunk. I couldn't quite see the label but knew it was wool because of the feel and the fact it had been slightly shrunk already.
2. You wash your woollen item on a hot wash in the machine. I try to save up a few items to do at once, to be economical with the energy. It is good, however, to not fill the machine too full because the bashing about in there helps the felting process too (as well as the water and the heat). Oh, and a fast spin helps too.
3. I tend to tumble dry mine next, mainly because I am impatient to see them finished (sadly, I find it quite exciting)! I wouldn't think you have to tumble dry them but I think it helps the whole process and to help fuse the fibres more.
This is the jumper after felting. It has got smaller, thicker and bobbly (just pick these off or use a de-bobbling tool (whatever they are called! -I don't have one...yet!)...oh, also the bottom section is now purple because I felted a purple scarf at the same time. Obviously, this jumper had been slightly shrunk before I bought it but if yours hasn't, it will shrink lots more (although I have found cashmere not to shrink so well). It still makes me giggle when I pull them out of the machine!
4. Oh, a very important thing to look out for is - if your woollen item says 'super wash wool', it WILL NOT shrink/felt. I believe it has been treated in a special way to prevent it from washing wrongly.
Also - Some wools I have used in the past have needed a second wash because the fibres didn't fuse totally the first time.
5. So now you are all ready to think "mmmm, what can I make with this?". You can cut it and it will not fray, which is great! You can hand sew or use the sewing machine. If using the machine, I have found it needs to be on a very low tension.
That's it! I hope you have fun felting, making and saving tired old jumpers from being thrown away. Why not make an upcycled brooch as a gift for a friend?