The more I delve into wool crafts -the more I learn about how wonderful this world of fiber arts is and wanted to share a little with you! Many of you are much further ahead in your journey and know so much more -but the following is great place for curious novices and crafters!
Let's first talk about the sheep! Like many animals -the breed of sheep determines the coat or characteristics of the wool. Two common breeds used for their wool are Merino and Corriedale. Merino sheep's fleece is thin, soft and smooth whereas Corriedale wool is know to be a durable medium weight fiber. After sheep are sheared their raw wool is cleaned (all debris is picked out and washed) and carded (a combing process).The finished product is can be called batting, sliver or a roving (but to simply, we will refer to the raw fibers as roving). These raw fibers or roving are the basis for all our wonderful wool products.
The secret behind wool is that its fibers have the amazing capability to lock and bind together -this is called felting! There are quite a few fun theories of how the process of felting was discovered. Some fables tell of saints lining their sandals with wool fleece prior to a long journey -but once they arrived they discovered the raw fibers had become more like a sock around their feet! The act of walking along with the sweat of their journey matted the wool! (Ewe!!) I love that felted wool was one of the first textiles known to man -it predates even weaving and knitting! Even today, nomadic countries use felted wool to line their saddles, use as blankets or even utilize for their homes -commonly known as yerts.
Even though wool got it's start in more utilitarian means -I am excited that it's used by crafters today! I will introduce you to our four favorite crafting supplies made with wool fibers: roving, yarn, felted wool and wool felt.
Roving is the basis of all wool craft supplies so it's smart to talk about it first! At Benzie we sell Corriedale roving -a perfect breed for those getting started in the fiber arts. It's multifunctional fiber for wet felting, needle felting, weavings or spinning. We talk a lot more about needle felting here.
Second, roving can be spun into a yarn or a thread. This yard can be knitted or the thread can be woven into a fabric. This leads us to number three: felted wool. Often confused with 'wool felt', 'felted wool' is woven wool fabric. It is thick, soft and pliable and does not ravel like other woven fabrics. You can see in the above photo the woven nature of the fabric.
Fourth and finally, everyone's favorite at Benzie -wool felt! Wool felt is essentially made by pressing, rolling and felting raw fibers together to make sheets of compacted non-woven wool. Manufacturing technology allows for a dense and even felting process to achieve desired thickness and size. And oh, all the colors! Today there are several kinds of felt (not just wool!) and we explain the differences here. Wool is a pretty incredible, multifaceted fiber. Thank a sheep!