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What is Felting?


 A single wool fiber is made of scales designed to move dirt and moisture away from a sheep’s body. They are also designed to keep sheep cool in the summer and warm in the winter by allowing the scales to open up or close down. FELTING takes advantage of these natural properties. Felting can be done by hand or in a center agitating washing machine.

When heat and moisture are applied to the wool fiber, the scales open up. When the PH level of the fiber is changed by adding soap, the scales swell and are transformed into a strand of hooks. When the fibers are agitated together, tangling occurs and it causes the fibers to move closer together into a dense mat (like dreadlocks). Submerging piece into cold water closes the scales and locks the fibers together. The result is a permanently interlocked mat of fibers or felt.

How does this happen?


The process of felting uses many techniques. Wet felting uses fibers of wool roving and rubbing them against each other when they are warm wet and soapy. The scales on the wool shaft open up and the fibers get tangled together; when they cool down and the scales try to close back to the shaft to form the fiber, they all lock together into a fuzzy new arrangement that we call FELT.

Another process is used with knitted, woven, crocheted, or premade wool garments or cloth. This is called fulling and the result is a smaller resized product. Fulling is used to up-cycle sweaters and the like More simply: HEAT + MOISTURE + AGITATION = FELT

The heat and moisture come from hot water; the addition of soap helps soften the fibers so they tangle together more, which aids in the felting process. Agitation causes the fibers to lock together; the longer you rub the piece the denser it gets.

Why Felt by Hand?


I like to felt by hand because I am able to witness the magic transformation of knitted/crocheted yarn or wool roving into felt. Felting by hand keeps YOU in control of the process. YOU can felt anywhere; this method does not require electricity. YOU can stop the process when it is done to your satisfaction, without running the risk of too much shrinkage.

YOU can change agitation directions so that felting happens evenly; your project does not become distorted, and YOU can achieve the shape you want. YOU have the option of stopping the process at any point to achieve the look YOU want; felt it a little so there is still some stitch definition or felt it until you can’t see the stitches at all. YOU are literally making your own personal fabric out of shrunken wool.

Nuno Felting


Nuno felting is a Japanese fabric felting technique. It melds loose wool fiber into a sheer fabric such as silk, gauze or chiffon. Other fabrics or open weaves can be used as the felting background, resulting in a wide range of textural effects, transparency, texturing and layering. 

This creates a lightweight felt that can totally cover the background fabric or be used as a single decorative design. Scarves and clothing are airy, flexible and drape well.

Dry Felting


Needle felting uses a barbed needle to tangle and shorten the fibers. Needle felting used as embellishment can be taught on a scarf blank, purse, or other blanks.

Classes


I teach classes in your own home! I live in the Juneau area but travel on request. The two introductory classes teach balls/beads, wet felting and needle felting. All classes are $25 per person plus materials. Juneau minimum class size is five. Outside the Juneau area is ten.
Each student goes home with their own creations.  

Contact me for class descriptions or request a specific class.
CONTACT

Suggested Classes:

  • Introduction to felting
  • Needle felting
  • Felted vessel
  • Felted bowl
  • Felted wall hanging or material
  • Felted bracelet or cuff
  • Felted jewelry and basic assembly techniques
  • Nuno felted scarf
  • Mittens from sweaters
  • Design your own
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