Oh I see. That issue would make me think twice about replacing my old washer with a front loader. Well since you can't check you might send the items through one cycle and then use the dryer if you need to do a little more. That way you can check occasionally.
As for the felting together... I guess you could try putting something non-felting in the mitten.. like a piece of cotton fabric or something. Not sure if it would work, but it's worth a try.