Category Archives: Felting Lessons and Terminology

The copyrighted information written in these FAQ pages is the sole property of Christine White and may not be used for financial gain. When fully cited with the reference (©2016 Christine White, New England Felting Supply LLC., usage is granted by the author for the purpose of education, discussion, written articles, and social media. The author reserves the right to deny permission for usage on a case-by-case basis.

What is wet felting?

Felt is made by a process called wet felting where the natural wool fibers, stimulated by friction and lubricated by moisture (usually soapy water), move at a 90 degree angle towards the friction source and then away again, in effect making little “tacking” stitches. While at any given moment only 5% of the fibers are active, the process is continual, so different ‘sets’ of fibers become activated and then deactivated, thereby building up the .

What is needle felting?

Needle felting is a popular fiber arts craft that creates felt without the use of water. Special needles that are used in industrial felting machines are used by the artist as a sculpting tool. While erroneously referred to as “barbed” needles, they in fact have notches along the shaft of the needle that grab the top layer of fibers and tangle them with the inner layers of fibers as the needle enters the wool. .

What is short fiber merino?

Short fiber merino is superfine merino that has been chopped into smaller staples which causes it to felt extremely fast. It creates a phenomenally flat, tight surface that is preferred by fiber jewelry makers, hatmakers, sculptural artists and some garment makers. It will pill with constant abrasion, so we do not recommend it for outerwear, rugs or upholstery. Like all merino, simply use a de-piller to keep it smooth. It’s very fast to lock .

What are Strata Batts™?

Strata Batt™ is a clever style of wool batting created especially for feltmakers that was developed in 2009 by our founder, feltmaker Christine White and based upon our unique multi-layered partial blend preparation. Dyed short fiber merino batts are randomly mixed in most of the layers, but super-sheer solid color layers can be peeled back as well, allowing control of the hue in your overall piece. The copyrighted information written in these pages is .

What is 100% pelsull?

Best described as Norwegian Gotland, Pelsull simply means “Pelt Wool” (the breed’s tiny lamb curls reminded people of the famous Persian lamb pelts). This fantastic fiber is still largely undiscovered by most fiber artists. It is durable, but has drape and it felts very fast.  This is an excellent choice for felting hats, vessels, bags, rugs, wall hangings and sculptural objects. We have a limited supply of this fantastic wool, both washed and unwashed, .

Why use Norwegian Wool?

The countries of Scandinavia have been producing felting wool for a long time, and the mills there have a good understanding of feltmaking.  They offer large quantities of consistent, quality controlled wool that is evenly dyed and available in batt form – all things that are currently unavailable on a large scale in the US. We continue to search for domestic wools too and are hopeful that the overall quality of the US wool .

What is Norwegian C-1 Needle Felting Wool?

“C-1” is the Norwegian designation for the national wool mixture of highest quality autumn-sheared wools. C-1 contains three types of wool (Dala, Rygja, Steigar) which together result in an excellent felting wool for durable home goods, shoes, outerwear and upholstery. And because the staple is relatively short, it’s the best needle felting wool that we’ve come across, hands down. The fiber diameter is larger than merino, it will naturally shed more water initially. Use more soap to break .

What is Norwegian C1/P?

Norwegian C1/Pelsull is a mixture of 50% Pelsull (the Norwegian equivalent of Swedish Gotland) and 50% Norwegian C-1. Pelsull fibers are long and transition from grey to black. It is very fast-felting and it will result in a slightly more pliable and hairier felt than 100% C-1. C1/Pelsull has great warmth and durability.  Perfect for hats, bags, wall-hanging, and other home decor. The copyrighted information written in these pages is the sole property of .

Does short fiber merino pill?

Shorter fibers pill more than longer fibers. But pilling isn’t just about the fiber length, it’s also about how tightly something is fulled. Think of the difference between under-fulled nuno scarves vs. well- fulled ones. New England Felting Supply has sample sets that show how that short fiber merino actually results in a finish that’s tighter & smoother than a combed top finish when it is fulled down completely. It’s similar to industrial felt. .

What’s the difference between batt and roving?

After raw wool is washed in a mill, the fibers are teased open and then loaded onto carding machines that help comb and align the fibers. Similar to a modern printing press, the carding machines are comprised of multiple drums of different diameters. After passing through the series of carding drums, the wool emerges as in sheer thin layers that accumulate to form a thicker pile of wool known as a batt (ex. quilt .

What does the term ”cloud” mean?

Cloud refers to fiber that has been teased open. Teasing open by hand is time-consuming, so it costs more than unteased fibers. Cloud is especially helpful in the ultra-thin layouts required when making cobweb wool and its appreciated by spinners who are looking for ready-to-spin fiber. The copyrighted information written in these pages is the sole property of Christine White and may not be used for financial gain of any form.  When fully cited .

Which wool preparation is best for a certain technique?

The short answer is that any preparation can work, so you can always use what you have on hand. However, experienced feltmakers will tell you that the form of wool to use depends on what you’re making with what technique and to what end. For example, combed top fibers lay flat, so it’s usually preferred for extremely delicate nuno garments when it’s helpful to monitor exactly how many fibers are being applied. But combed .

How do I separate and work with wool roving/combed top

Roving is the wool preparation most commonly available to felters. Make sure the roving is completely untwisted before you try to pull it apart.  Individual fibers are about 3″ to 5″ long in commercially prepared Merino fleece.  If you hold you hands closer than that you won’t be able to separate the fibers.  Work with small amounts of roving at a time.  This is the most important way to gain control over how evenly .

Do felters mix merino roving with Norwegian C-1?

Blend merino roving and Norwegian C-1 makes a fantastic all-purpose felting wool. C-1 gives durability and structure to the mix so it will wear well over time without pilling. And merino makes the mix felt at a faster rate and fills in the spaces between the coarser C-1 fibers, resulting in a very strong but flexible felt. C-1 also adds a slight sheen and using both wools means you have endless color mixing possibilities. .

What is the size of the short fiber merino batt and the micron count?

A one pound batt averages 3’ x 4’ and we do our best to keep a continuous sheet, but sometimes we must make up the weight with a few loose pieces. This is not an issue because the fiber is nearly non-directional.   Our short fiber merino wool begins as 18.5 micron, but the special preparation results in an ultra-fine finish that most closely approximates that of 16 micron count. The copyrighted information written .

What are some examples of non-sheep fibers that will felt?

Camel – Short fiber, can be slow to felt; often mixed with silk or wool fibers.  Baby camel hair is the softest. Llama – Excellent felter; choose low guard hair content for least shedding. Readily available from local farmers. Alpaca – Same as Llama, both alpaca and llama fibers are somewhat slippery to work with, so they are sometimes mixed with wool fiber. Mohair goat – Good felter, very fast as an embellishment because .

How much wool do I need for my wet felting project?

This largely depends on the size and complexity of your project.  For example a purse with a template size of 30″ x 40″ shrinks about 33% to a finished size of 20″ X 26 1/2″.  This would require 10 to 12 oz of merino wool roving or short fiber merino.  A pillow with a template size of 21″ diameter shrinks about 33% to a finished size of 14″ in diameter. This would require 2 .

How many layers of wool do I need to create felt?

“Layers” are a relative concept since some lay out wool thickly, whereas for others it’s the opposite. Although people still refer to the number of layers needed, it’s not a very accurate description of what to do unless the “layer” itself is described (for example Sheer? Thick? etc.) Determine how much wool you need for your project and then divide it into 4 or 6 piles to maintain greater control over the thickness of .

Does it matter how thick I lay out the wool?

Yes, absolutely. For the same given area, a thicker pile of wool is more firm while a thinner pile has more drape. Thin layouts shrink more that thick layouts too, so with experience, you can learn to use this to your advantage depending on what you are making. The copyrighted information written in these pages is the sole property of Christine White and may not be used for financial gain of any form.  When .

How much and how hot should the water be when I am felting?

Water temperate is less important than felters once believed. Very hot water can speed the fulling process, but this may come at the expense of the internal quality of your felt. Hotwater use is appropriate in nuno felting where fibers are locked into a cloth structure, but is not really needed for many traditional felting techniques. In general, use water that is about dishwater temperature – hotter than tepid, but not so hot your .