Experienced knitters are welcome to chuckle, of course, but I had another newbie breakthrough last night, and I'm just so pleased with myself that I can hardly stand it. I felted my first pieces by hand, and they came out wonderfully.
One is simply a gauge swatch in Kureyon so I could see how well it felted. It will make a fetching coaster for my desk. The piece de resistance, however, is a bag with a flap and a long i-cord strap from Felted Knits, knit in bright fuchsia Lamb's Pride worsted. It's still drying this morning, but I'll post a photo once I attach a button loop and a button. My friend Val came through with half a dozen fabulous Beardie and sheep buttons, and I'll have a hard time choosing which one will adorn this first masterpiece.
The first cardinal rule of hand felting is: Don't give up! You can squish and rub and squeeze and fondle that yarn for what seems like ages, and it won't show any sign of doing anything. Just at the moment when you're ready to throw up your wet, soapy hands and trundle the whole lot down to the washing machine, just look: your piece will finally show some signs of shrinkage. Let that be an encouragement to you, and keep on squishing until the stitches disappear.
For the bag, the magic moment happened somewhere around 10 or 15 minutes after I started the process. I took the bag out and started drying it, and then noticed that the stitches really hadn't disappeared entirely... so back into the tub it went. After another 20 minutes or so, the bag was completely felted.
The swatch/coaster took longer, partly because it's so small. It could be that the Kureyon takes longer to felt, too, but a larger piece made from the same yarn should take less time.
Of course, now I'm flooded with ideas of great things I can make and felt -- in my mythical spare time. I do want to make a teal Lamb's Pride tote bag for my music and a few more bags before trying out the ballet slippers, though.