Sheeps wool (and your hair to some extent) has tiny barbs on it. The more prominent these barbs are the easier it is to “dreadlock” or felt the fibers together.
When you take these fibers and agitate them together they start to lock up. (like your knotty hair in the morning or after wearing a winter hat all day.) It helps to have some kind of lubricant, such as oil, wax, or water with soap to help the process along. I like soap vs. detergent as detergent will strip the wool of it’s natural lanolin.
You can also shrink wool, but this is different than felting. Shrinking involves actually changing the fiber of wool with heat and cold extremes. normally you don’t want to shrink your wool, but sometimes if your felting project comes out too big you can shrink it a bit with hot and cold water changes.
Over the years Lost Creek owner Greg Weiss has taught many felting workshops, taking freshly sheared sheeps wool, cleaning it, picking it, carding it, and then making mittens to felt boot liners to hats. It takes a little while to get the hang of it, as the wool changes considerably as it felts.
More on processing wool for felting coming soon. Until then stay tuned to this blog for more! In the meantime please let us know your favorite felting projects, or send pics!