Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Felting Terms

I am posting this for a few friends who are new to the world of felting and wanted to know some of the terminology used in some projects they are interested in.  I am also going to post some of my favorite authors/books that I have used to learn by and to get inspiration from.

Felting Terms 101

Roving - Roving is often confused with 'top'. Roving is a bit more tangled and has different lengths of fibers. When it's pulled off the machine in a rope (the wool fiber), it's roving, when it's put through another process called combing, the short fibers are removed and it leaves all the long fibers behind (in one direction). So really it's 'tops' that you are buying from many vendors.  Generally you used roving to spin into a yarn because it's softer and the 'top' to make a worsted yarn. (smooth and tighter together)

Sliver- this is what you get when you draw or pull wool fiber from the roving.  It's generally referred to as the thin, fine tuft that is laid down to begin making your felt.

Batt: A length of carded felt primarily done by large drum carders, (a bed of barbed felting needles)  and as the needles pass through the fibers the lower layers are pulled up through the top layers.  Smaller batts can be made hand carding too. (some circles call felt batts pre-felts) 

Blending: This is when you mix fibers of different colors or combining different types of fibers together.  i.e. two dyed colors or wool fiber with silk tops.
Carders: Equipment used to separate wool fibers and/or blending different types of colors of wool for spinning or making felt. Carders have fine wires set in leather or synthetic rubber cloth attached to a wooden base.The same for hand carders.  Example of a drum carder and an example of a hand carder.
Carding: Using carders to tease and open wool out to separate the individual fibers.
Felt: A fabric resulting from interlocking and entangling wool fibers by way of moisture and friction.  They fibers are transformed into a compact mass and become felt.
Felting Needle: A long needle with barbs on the end. Used for hand, machine and industrial felting. The barbs on the needle hook onto the fibers and interlock them with each other.
Fleece: Unprocessed wool taken from a sheep or fibers taken from alpacas. (I don't know if its used for other animal coats.)
Fulling: After the felting process is complete, it is rubbed on a rough surface, thrown gently and even slammed on the work surface to force the fibers to become more intertwined and firmer.
Inlay: This is a technique in felt design in which pre-felted pieces are placed on a background batt of wool fibers and the whole piece is then felted together.
Cotton Muslin: Soft loosely woven cotton fabric.
Merino: A breed of sheep producing a beautiful fine wool that is best for making clothing from when it is felted. They are bred mainly in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
Micron: The measurement of fiber thickness. The lower the number the finer the fiber.
Nuno Felt: is a fabric felting technique developed by Polly Stirling, a fiber artist from New South Wales, Australia, around 1992. The name is derived from the Japanese word "nuno" meaning cloth. The technique bonds loose fiber, usually wool, into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze, creating a lightweight felt.

Pre-felt: The fibers are laid for felting but are only felted until they are matted but not yet shrunk. It is then rinsed, allowed to dry and used in a design.
Resist: A plastic template used in making hollow felted formes to prevent layers of fibres felting together for example: hats, bags, boots, pockets, etc
Scales: The hooks which can be see on the wool fibre under a microscope. Felt is made from the wool when these hooks interlock and tighten the fabric.
Staple: The length the wool grows on the sheep. It can be long or short staple
Throwing: A process in making felt. The bundle of felt is repeatedly dropped gently or can be slammed. This process is done at the end of the felting process. The fibres hook together even more and the felt becomes firmer

I hope you find this helpful!  Stay tuned, I'm going to be uploading some pictures of some of my "nuno" scarves soon!

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