WHAT IS FELT? WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
Above: Sheared Suffolk Sheep. How cute are these guys?
Simply put, felt is matted wool (hair) from animals such as sheep and goats. Wool becomes felt when it is subjected to moisture, heat, and pressure. In fact, if domestic sheep were not shorn, over time their wool would felt or "cot." Hot soapy water makes the wool slippery and causes tiny scales on the fiber to open up. The scales prevent the fibers from backing up again after they slide across each other; with agitation, the fibers get hopelessly tangled together. When cooled, dried and compressed, the scales close and lock the wool into the tough, durable material called felt.
Above: Wool just sheared (shaved) from a sheep.
Above: Wool after being cleaned, combed and dyed. At this stage it is called Roving. Roving can be made into felt or spun into yarn (below) that can be knitted and then felted.
Above: Wool that has been spun into yarn ready to be woven, knitted, crocheted, etc.
SIMPLY SHEEP FELT
SS felt is made from yarn spun from sheep's wool that I first knit then felt in a washing machine. The ability to control water temperature and length of agitation cycles via "Machine felting" enables the consistency and predictability of the finished product. Wool felted by hand is often misshapen, varies in thickness across the fabric, has uneven edges and often-unpredictable results. By knitting the shapes we need, and knowing what percentage our wool will felt through extensive testing, we can offer a variety products to specific dimensions and consistent thickness. More labour intensive than industrial felt but better for the planet. To learn more about the benefits of felt and wool, click here.
Felt is the oldest form of fabric known to humankind. Traditionally felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing wool fibers from animals such as sheep, rabbit, and yak. This is accomplished by laying wool fibers together and then introducing hot water and pressure by rubbing or rolling. Fibers that are wet open to release little scales which, after being rubbed aggressively, eventually shrink and grab onto each other. The result is a durable, condensed fabric.
Evidence of the longevity of felt can be seen in museums where felted artifacts dating back 1000's of years ago can be seen. To learn more about the history of felt, click here.
While some types of felt are very soft and thin, others are tough enough to form long lasting products for home use and industrial construction application. Felt can be of any color, and made into any shape or size.
THE HISTORY OF FELT
Traditional felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials. Felt can be of any color, and made into any shape or size.
Felt is the oldest form of fabric known to humankind. It predates weaving and knitting, although there is archaeological evidence from the British Museum that the first known thread was made by winding vegetable fibers on the thigh. In Turkey, the remains of felt have been found dating back at least to 6,500 BC. Highly sophisticated felted artifacts were found preserved in permafrost in a tomb in Siberia and dated to 600 AD.
Above: A Yurt made of felt.
Many cultures have legends as to the origins of making felt. Sumerian legend claims that the secret of felt making was discovered by Urnamman of Lagash. The story of Saint Clement and Saint Christopher relates that while fleeing from persecution, the men packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. At the end of their journey, the movement and sweat had turned the wool into felt socks.
For a long time, the economy of what is now Canada was based on the fur trade, the hunting of beaver (and, to a lesser extent, other animals) for the felt industry in Europe. This led to a very basic colonization, organized by fur trade companies, until governmental measures were taken to ensure a real economic and demographic development.
Felt making is still practiced by nomadic peoples in Central Asia, where rugs, tents and clothing are regularly made. Some of these are traditional items, such as the classic yurt, while others are designed for the tourist market, such as decorated slippers. In the Western world, felt is widely used as a medium for expression in textile art as well as design, where it has significance as an ecological textile.
(The above text is s under the GNU Free Documentation License).