How to chose a fleece for felting

With more and more people interested in the fiber arts, especially with the 2020 lock downs, we have more people contacting us about felting their own fiber. Many have neighbors willing to "give" them free fiber, which is not always a great idea. We would suggest to read our page on selecting a wool fleece, not only for strength and soundness, but for the proper use for the fleece. Not all fleeces are created equal.

For the purpose of this writing, we will concentrate on fleeces for wet felting, but will touch on the 2 processes.

It is our opinion, at Spinderella's Creations,  that to actually create a finished fabric, the fiber needs to be wet felted to lock the fibers in place. Many people needle felt tiny critters , while most textiles are wet felted. 

WET FELTING

Wet Felt is the process involving soap, water, wool or other felt-able fibers, and friction. Moisture goes into the core of the fiber causing them to swell, pushing out the scales surrounding the core. The agitation of the fibers by your hands, or a rolling machine, help lock the fibers in place. 

 

​Fulling refers to the use of heat, moisture and extreme agitation to make a wool fabric becoming stronger. When a piece is being fulled, the fibers continue to move, or another word you will hear is migrate, and tangle on each other. Even though the size of the fiber diameter does not change, the air between the fibers is removed as they tangle around each other, and the  fabric "shrinks".

 

Not all wool can be wet felted.

NEEDLE FELTING

Needle Felt is the process of interlocking fibers through a repeated "stabbing" motion with special barbed felting needle. A felting needle is designed with tiny barbs along the sides of its tapered point. When the needle is pushed into the wool, the fibers get caught on the barbs, tangling them to form a matted bond.

Because you’re stabbing the fibers over and over again, you will want to use a foam pad that protects the needles from breaking as well as giving you a firm surface to work on. Animals are a popular item to needle felt since it allows for real-life fuzziness of the critters.

 

Most fleeces can be needle felted

Understand that there are literally 100's of different breeds of sheep to chose from. All of these can be very different even within the breed itself. Many factors contribute to the quality of the fleeces, from nutrition to selective breeding. Many a sheep has come from a specific need, from clothing to rugs and everything in between.  

How do you figure it all out? In our opinion, it takes a lifetime. Yes, you can train your hands to feel the fleece and have an educated guess as to how it should be used, but often times you will be surprised at what can be accomplished. Remember .... we are fiber artists- there are general rules, but creativity is king- or queen. :-)

To make it easier, wool is grouped into categories of similar characteristics. In the fiber arts world - not everyone uses the same categories and some use no category at all. But again- there are general rules for a starting point. You will find that even within the breed there will be variations. This is where actually choosing your own fleece, by experience, will help.

We have compiled a list of breeds we have worked with over the 30+ years, and know these felt well. Lynn enjoys wet felting, and often a combination of long wools and fine downy fleece does the trick. Understand this is not an exhaustive list, but one to get you started on your way of understanding the wonderful world of wool fleeces available to us .

Our chart is best read on a tablet or computer

*DC = Duel Coat        *LW= Long Wool

BREED

  • Merino

  • Rambouillet

  • Delaine

  • Debouillet    

  • CVM & Bond

  • Cormo 

  • Targhee 

  • Polwarth 

  • Finn 

  • Columbia

  • Shetland

  • Corriedale 

  • Falkland Island 

  • Icelandic 

    • Tog ( outer)

    • Thel (under) 

  • Blue Faced Leicester

  • Polypay  

  • Gotland

  • Perendale 

  • Jacob

  • Leicester Longwool

  • Romney

  • Coopworth 

  • Cotswold

  • Wensleydale

  • Border Leicester

  • Lincoln

  • Spelsau

  • Karakul

  • NavajoChurro

    • Outer Coat​

    • Undercoat

  • Scottish Blackface

MICRONS

  • 18-22

  • 19-25

  • 19-25

  • 19-25

  • 18-25 

  • 22-25

  • 23-26

  • 22-26

  • 25-32

  • 24-31

  • 26-27

  • 23-34

  • 26-34

  • 27-30

  • 19-22

  • 27-30

  • 26-32

  • 28-32

  • 28-34

  • 32-36

  • 31-36

  • 31-36

  • 31-36

  • 31-36

  • 31-36

  • 33-38

  • 37-40

  • ?

  • 30-40+

  • ..

  • 40+

  • 22-23

  • 40-43+

BRADFORD COUNT

  • 60-80's

  • 64-80's

  • 62-80's

  • 60-64's

  • 60-80's

  • 58-64's

  • 58-64's

  • 50-60's

  • 50-60's

  • 54-58's

  • 54-58's

  • 46-58's

  • 46-58's

  • ............

  • 56-60's

  • 64-70's

  • 56-60's

  • 48-58's

  • 48-52's

  • 46-52's

  • 46-52's

  • 44-56's

  • 40-46's

  • 44-48's

  • 44-48's

  • 44-48's

  • 44-48's

  • 44-46's

  • 36-40's

  • ???????

  • ...........

  • 36-40+

  • 62's

  • 28-40's

General Grade

  • Fine

  • Fine

  • Fine

  • Fine 

  • Fine

  • Medium - Fine

  • Medium - Fine

  • Medium - Fine

  • Medium - Fine

  • Medium

  • Medium - DC*

  • Medium

  • Medium

  •                 DC*

  • Medium

  • Fine

  • Medium LW*

  • Medium LW*

  • Medium LW*

  • Medium- Coarse

  • Medium -Coarse

  • Medium LW*

  • Med - Coarse LW*

  • Med - Coarse LW*

  • Med - Coarse LW*

  • Med - Coarse LW*

  • Med - Coarse LW*

  • Med - Coarse LW*

  • Double Coat Coarse

  • Double Coat Coarse

  • Double Coat

  • Coarse - Hair

  • Fine

  • Coarse 

Dropping fiber off? Please make an appointment. 
Accepting new customers on a limited basis

Liberty Wells - Salt Lake City, UTAH , United States 84105

info@spinderellas.com 

801.487.8372 landline

801.668.0563 cell

At Spinderellas Creations Fiber Processing Mill, we are committed to our core philosophies:

  • sustainability

  • minimally processed wool- alpaca - mohair

  • hands that touch each item from farm to finished goods

  • support of local ranchers

  • support of local business

  • slow craft /slow textile products.

For us it’s more than a philosophy,

it's a way of life.

© 2020-21 by Spinderellas Creations