Saturday, January 13, 2007

Many Faces of Felt

Felt, Felted, Felt Making - how do you differentiate the variety of things called felt. Do you know what you are getting when you buy “felt.”

Felt creations range from those crafted from industrial made felt to traditional hand made felt.

There are things glued or sewn using craft or “wool” felt - such as stuffies, pincushions, accessories, clothes, home decor. This felt was made by a big company on a needle loom. Craft felt is often acrylic or polyester. Wool felt is often a small percentage wool combined with other fibers. The greater the percentage of wool the more expensive the felt fabric. This type of felt is non-woven. It is fibers, strands, mashed together and entangled to stick together to make the fabric. When cut, the edges do not ravel, one cannot pull out threads.

There are things made from “felted” fabric. Often called felt because it is washed and shrunken so the threads/yarn jam together resulting in a “felt-like” fabric that may or may not ravel when cut. Historically called “boiled wool” or “fulled” many people today refer to any woven, knit, crocheted fabric which as been shrunk as “felted.”

There are things that start out as wool yarns which are knit, or crocheted then intentionally shrunk to jam the yarns together resulting in a “felt-like” dense non-ravel item.

There are things that start out as wool fibers which are entangled until they intermingle and shrink together to create fabric or items. Here finally is hand made felt. Traditional felt making is a wet process - exposing the wool fibers to water, chemicals (usually soap), friction to get the fibers to intermingle, tangle and jam together to create fabric. Dry felting also known as needle felting simply using a barbed needle to make the fibers intermingle, tangle and jam together to create fabric or build a sculpture.

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