There are few things more frustrating than buying a raw fleece and finding out it won’t felt. Some sheep breeds have no felting ability in their fleece whatsoever and this is really annoying. Particularly if you have already spent hours washing and dyeing the wool fleece with natural dyes. If you know the sheep breed that produced your fleece, you will know whether it is felt-able or not, though if you get a random free fleece it is best to test for felting ability.
Four steps to test any wool for felting ability
- Start by washing a few locks of the questionable fleece.This can be done by holding the cut end while dampening the tip. Rub the wet tips in soap, while keeping the cut end in your hand. Then, rub the soapy tips on your opposite palm, and then rinse. The tips should be clean. When rinsing, rinse the whole lock.
- Let the fleece locks dry.
- Then, comb out the wool lock tips. This can be done with a dog comb, dog brush, or a flick carder. You just want to open the wool lock structure.
- After the wool locks are combed. Elongate them out into a narrow band, about the thickness of three pencils. Form the loose wool band into a circle around the palm of your hand. Dampen the wool with a mixture of soap and water, as you would for regular felting. Then, rub the band between your palms, turning it as you go. Continue rubbing until felted, or if it is not felted after ten minutes, then it is a non-felt-able fleece. This is the simplest method to make wool felt, and to test and see if your fleece will felt.
Of course, you do not have to make a circular band of wool felt, though it makes a nice bracelet. You can also felt a wool lock into a bead. Or make the wool felt into a strait rope and call it a woolly snake.
This is simply a quick method to test for felting ability with water, soap, and the wool you have. This method can be used with any unspun wool, whether un-carded, combed, top, or carded roving. If you have some already dyed wool that is questionable, you could combine colours and felt a coloured wool spiral on your bracelet, rope, or bead test felt piece.
Back to You
What is your experience with wool fleece and felting? Have you ever encountered a felt resistant fleece? I would love to hear your story about wool felt. Leave a comment.