Felting is a technique that has been around for many, many years. It has been dated back to the Iron Age and practiced by many cultures all over the world. Countries include; Scandinavia, Asia, Turkey, Mongolia. The type of felt made depended upon the needs of the people at the time and can be linked to human survival. In cold climates felted items have been used as clothing to keep people warm, and in hotter climates to protect from heat and wind. It is thought to pre-date woven or spun fabric.
Felt is defined as non-woven cloth that has been pressed or matted together without any internal structures such as stitches or weave.
Wet felting is the traditional felting technique which combines the following processes:
• Loose wool fibres
• Soap and water
• Pressing of the fibres until they hold together as a cloth
• Vigorously working the cloth until it shrinks and strengthens
It is a bit like putting a wool jumper in the washing machine (Ahhhh) – when it comes out after being washed with soap and water and spun around in the machine it is a lot smaller and tougher!There are many different types of felting that has been developed over the years. Some include:
- Needle felting: Needles which are barbed and repeatedly stabbed into the wool to create a dense shape.
- Fulled knitting: Where a knitted item (such as a bag) is placed in the washing machine – this process felts the knitted wool.
- Nuno felting: Felting wool fibres into cloth – usually silk. The wool fibres pass through the weave and entangle on the back. As the fibres shrink a strong textured felt / fabric hybrid is created.
- Cobweb felting: Where very fine layers of wool fibre are felted together – this created a very sheer, fine felt layer. It can have holes to create a textural effect.
These are the techniques I use when making my felted items.
Adapted from: Uniquely Felted, Christine White, 2007