Recently I have been thinking a lot about this question. Why exactly does wool felt? Must be my science background coming out in me again… I’ve taken to researching this topic and recently gave a lecture to the Victorian Feltmakers association about the subject. I would like to share with you a few thoughts on the matter.
Researchers as earlier as the 1930’s have been interesting in understanding Why Wool Felts. Much of their interest in understanding the felting properties of wool was focused on the potential economic benefits that would be gained by keeping wool in garments from felting. Their early research paved the way in the development of new wool technologies like Super Wash Wool (machine washable wool).
Some of the factors the scientists were researching about wool involved issues dealing with fibre diameter, fibre length, crimp, scaliness of the wool fibre, scale height, its differential frictional coefficient, the ease of the fibres deformation and recovery, moisture, soaps (lubricants) and pH. Each of these factors play an important role in the complex story of the felting process. In subsequent newsletters we will exploring more about the actual mechanism of felting.