Felting knitting yarn is almost a misnomer here but it fits, Felting is actually the process of turning a knitted piece of work, no matter what it is, and turning it into a pseudo-cloth fabric by constantly stabbing it with your felting needles, themselves devices that should be one of those things that never came to be!
The felt knitting yarn should be a worsted yarn. As a general rule, look at what size knitting needles are required for the worsted or felting knitting yarn and go up about two sizes too large from the factory specifications.
If you would like to do your felt knitting the old-fashioned way, you will need some raw wool or other material that has not been spun and a pair of felting needles. If you decide to do this, be certain never to leave your felting needles unattended around cats or your other yarn as they will inevitably become entwined in ways that were never meant to be and are nearly impossible to resolve peacefully. Fortunately, there is a more merciful method that, while not one-hundred percent guaranteed, is substantially easier and less likely to result in injury or a complete loss of all your knitted crafts.
Take your worsted knitting yarn and knit with overly large stitches (as you would have to with over-sized knitting needles) and make whatever you are making roughly twice the size that it should normally be were it just a regular item not to be felted. When it is done, make sure that all of your loose ends are well tended to and not loose anymore.
The hard part is yet to come and any loose ends could very easily ruin all of your knitting. Do not worry about the size of the item being so large, initially it is going to get even larger and then it will shrink … maybe more than you want if you are not careful and attentive.
Find a sealed cloth bag to put your knitting into before you get the washing machine ready. A pillow case with a zipper seems to be about the best solution as it will help you keep your washing machine in working order after you are down felting the knitting. Make certain that any straps or other loose items on your knitted item are straight and then seal it in the bag.
If you fail to do this, the massive amount of lint that is getting ready to be turned loose could easily clog even the best washing machine … especially if you are felting a large knitted sweater or cape. Now it is time to get your washing machine ready.
By all means never stick your hands into an open washing machine that is still agitating but you will have to be very careful to stop your machine at least every five minutes so please be careful. Set the water level for the lowest setting possible, set the wash cycle to hot and the rinse cycle to cold. Do not let the machine cycle all the way through though. Start with one tablespoon of color-safe detergent before you even think about dropping your pillowcase and knitting in the washing machine.
When there are some suds in the hot water, place your pillowcase in the washing machine and let it agitate for about five minutes. Pull your pillowcase out of the water every five minutes, make sure that nothing is twisted or bent out of shape or your felting knit will be uneven. Some bleeding is also going to occur so just understand you really cannot prevent that.
Repeat this process as needed being certain to check your knitted craft at least every five minutes. The first time you check it, it will be slightly larger than you made it but it will quickly shrink back down and then you get to watch the felting process begin.
When it is what you feel to be the right texture and size (as it is your work after all) you are ready for the last stage of knitted felting. You can use cold rinse water in the washing machine but the colder the water is, the better the felting results will be. If you have a tub, bucket or other container large enough to hold your knitted and felted craft and ice water, that would be ideal. If you do use your washing machine for the cold rinse, be certain not to let the spin cycle kick in as this will very likely ruin your felting knitted products.
When all of that is done, you are ready to shape your felted knitted garment, bag or whatever else you may have created. Do not be afraid to stretch it and shape it while it is wet. If you start seeing something that does not look right; a quick dip back in the hot water and then straight to the cold water will allow you to start over. While that may seem like a lot of additional work to felt knitting items, when it is done right (and it may take some practice) the finished knitted garment will be a true home-made work of art that you will always love and cherish.