Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wool, the nature of the fibre

I wrote this article earlier last year for members of Cee's and my Facebook group
Thought I'd share it here for everyone.  
The two links I've included at the end are very good reference

Wool, the nature of the fibre 
This is the most asked question when making a penny rug:
How do I felt wool? 
First understand the properties of wool, it is organic. 
All wool is different, just like the sheep and goats
that give up their coats for it. 
Looking under a microscope you can see the scales on wool, cuticles. 
Treat your wool sweater to a hot wash, the scales
will open and then close, 
never to open again, that’s why wool will felt
....essentially it shrinks. 
For penny rugs we don’t need to use pure wool. 
you can make a penny rug from a fabric 
that is a blend or not wool at all. 
We do want to use something that is soft, 
durable, and tightly woven. 
 That is the nature of wool when it is fulled or felted. 
Woven or knit,
 it has been my experience when felting wool to use 
a warm water wash and then a cold rinse.
You are saying that everyone told you to use hot
water, right or wrong? 
Read on for cautionary wisdom.
Certainly, hot water will full your wool, and oh my, one
day you will pull a beautiful cloth from your washer
that is so thick you can use it straight away for a doormat. 
So before you ruin a gorgeous wool fabric, start
with a warm wash and cold rinse. 

 If your fabric doesn’t felt, 
well maybe it was treated at the factory not to shrink at all. 
That’s a process and a trademark called SuperWash ®. 

 If your wool fabric did felt up, but not as
much as you’d like, you might want it thicker and tighter,
 then go ahead and toss it back in a hot wash.
 It’s been my experience that the agitation and heat
will further open the scales and the fabric will be fuller.
 A hot dryer can further the process, 
however the fabric will fluff. 
Perhaps you don’t want it fluffy, that’s fine,
 hang it to dry and save the energy expense.
Remember that the process of stitching the
 wool pieces in place, circles or shapes, 
will hold any lose fibres. 
 So, if the wool is a blend or not completely fulled, 
your stitches will hold it in place.
 That is what wool applique and penny rugs are about. 

Use up and make do. 
Most of all, enjoy your project.

Colleen MacKinnon
February 2017©
Read these two great articles: 

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