The Practical Magic of Wool Felting
Leaves are falling, days are growing shorter, and there’s a crispness to the air—time to cozy up with some indoor projects! Have you tried wool felting?
Felt, verb: to make a fabric with wool by connecting the fibers together with various methods such as barbed needles, moisture, and heat shrinking.
Wool felt carries the distinction of being one of the oldest textiles. Its origins are likely Central Asia, where samples of wool felt have been found in Siberian tombs dated as early as 7th century BC. Felt played a major part in the nearby nomadic Mongolian culture, where it was used for shelter, insulation, flooring, bedding, and clothing. In Christian lore, it is said that as Saint Clement and Saint Christopher were fleeing persecution, they stuffed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters and had wool felt socks by the end of their journey.
We love being connected to this history through our love of wool. It was the perfect solution then, and despite hundreds of years of innovation and experimentation, wool is still the best fiber for so many modern uses.
In a world where crafting can involve a lot of one-use, disposable and plastic items, wool felting is remarkably versatile, practical, and sustainable. It’s simple enough for small children to try, and yet can be incredibly complex and richly artistic. Wool felt can be fashioned into all sorts of projects like hats, gloves, jewelry, wall hangings, pouches, baby moccasins, and home decor.
Shepherd’s Dream offers clean, undyed craft wool for all your projects in one, two, and five pound bags. These are tufts left over from our production process, and are perfect as filling for dolls and toys, or for—you guessed it—needle felting.
Wool felt artisans showcase their creations in our showroom in Ashland, Oregon, and especially this time of year, the offerings get super seasonal. Lori Meese graces us with her autumnal wool acorns, decorative pumpkins, and fall-colored leaves, as well as Halloween-themed fuzzy spiders, gauze-wrapped mummies, spooky ghosts, and smiley jack o’ lanterns.
We also carry several pieces by local artist Liza Hamilton, aka Wooliza. Ranging from small and simple to large and elaborate, Wooliza shows us what’s possible when imagination and wool meet. She puts together felting kits for beginners that are a perfect introduction to the craft with everything needed to create little elephants, zebras, or kitty cats. We go through these so quickly in our showroom—come check them out if you’re in the area!
Felted wool’s practical side can elevate the everyday experience too. Monika MacDougal of Wool Bugs in Ashland keeps infant toes cozy with her felted wool moccasins and kids’ hands toasty with knitted gloves. These items fill the kids’ corner of our showroom, and they make perfect gifts for the little ones in your life.
Lori Meese also felts wool around an all-natural, locally-made mild soap, creating an automatic washcloth that gently exfoliates skin. Several scents are available, as well as unscented.
Many of our customers swear by wool felt for sleeping and as a general surface for comfort. We carry several options via Heartfelt Collective:
- Heartfelt Wool Yoga Felt— For yoga and meditation, providing softness and support for your practice.
- Heartfelt Wool Medicine Felt— Versatile felt pads in many sizes that can be used for mattress toppers, camping, massage tables, car seats, and more!
- Heartfelt Felt Mattress Protector— Half the thickness of the Medicine Felt for a protective layer over your bedding.
Recent customer Rachel says her Medicine Felt “is luxurious and I can tell it is made with care. I spend quite a bit of time on the computer and my body thanks me when I take breaks and lay on the floor with my yoga-sized organic wool felt.”
The magic of wool felt is truly for everyone! Whether you purchase items or felt them yourself, you’re supporting a time-honored tradition and craft that is beautiful and beneficial for our planet.