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Glossary of Felting terms


Batts – Sheets of carded fibre produced on a drum carder (aka ‘carded batts’). They are usually larger than a roving


Blends – Combination of different fibres and colours.


Carded Fibre – Fibre that has been brushed so that the fibres go in multiple directions, as opposed to tops, which go in one direction.  The carded fibres come in batts or rolags and can be made either using large commercial felting machines, drum carders or hand carders.


Drum Carders – A wool-carding tool – for carding larger quantities than from a hand carder.


Cobweb Felt - Thin and delicate felt in appearance but strong enough to hold together. It may look like any other felt until held against the light when it takes on an ethereal appearance. It is a sheer transparent felt and has a holey texture.


Cobweb felting – This creates a wool felt fabric with a ‘cobwebby’ texture. Instead of a thick sheet of felted wool, a cobweb felted scarf is light and airy with thin areas and even holes. It is considered one of the more advanced types of felt making as you are manipulating many strands of wet fibre at a time instead of working the felt as a solid piece.


Felt - a fabric made from wool by using friction, moisture and heat, without the use of stitching, sticking or weaving.


Fibre - Wool or other material you are using to felt with – different from raw fleece or yarn.


Fleece –The wool straight from the sheep (or other animal)


Gauge – the width of the needle (used in needle-felting). The higher the gauge the thinner the needle.


Hand Carders – Flat brushes used to card wool by hand.


Lanolin – Grease, naturally occurring in many breeds of sheep. NB. Alpaca fleece does not contain lanolin.


Locks – Washed curls, which may be left natural or dyed, they are great for adding texture and detail.


Merino – A breed of sheep known for its very soft wool and great for learners as it is easy to felt.  


Micron – The thickness of a fibre. The lower the number the finer the wool. Merino for example usually comes as 23 microns but can be as fine as 18.  Use a thicker fibre for needle felting to avoid seeing needle marks.


Needle felting - Felt which is made using needles with notches on the end and repeatedly stabbing into the wool fleece. The wool becomes tangles and then firm.


Nepps – Small bits of waste wool, used to create texture.


Nuno felt - The fusion of loose fibre, such as wool, with a sheer textile, such as silk, creating a lightweight felt fabric. It was developed in the early 90s by Polly Sterling from Australia and the name is derived from the Japanese word "nuno" meaning cloth.”


Nuno Felting - A technique which combines an open weave fabric plus loose fibre – usually wool – to create a lightweight felt. Wool fibres work through the woven fabric before felting takes place, then as the wool shrinks the silk crinkles, producing interesting shapes and textures. The main thing to remember is that cool water and gentle massaging must be used in order to encourage the wool fibres to migrate through the fabric. If this doesn’t happen, the wool fibres will felt to themselves and fall off the fabric.


Pre-felt – Partially-completed sheets of felt that have been matted together but not yet shrunk, and are therefore thicker, more ‘fluffy’ than ‘normal’ felt. May be hand or commercially made.


Raw Wool – Another term for fleece, usually unwashed and straight of the sheep’s back.


Resist – Anything used between two pieces, or sheets, of wool to avoid them felting together. The resists are removed at the end, or towards the end of the felting process.


Rolag – Hand-carded batts, usually small in size.


Roving – Often confused with ‘tops’, a roving is very similar to tops in that it typically comes in a ‘rope’ but is thinner than tops, and that the fibres are loosely carded.  


Shibori – The Japanese art of pleating and knotting, usually used for dyeing fabric. In felting, these techniques are used as a resist to achieve interesting results, especially when using different colour fibres.


Staple – The length of the wool fibre – it can be long or short.


Tops – Brushed ropes of washed and combed fibre, flowing in the same direction, used in all aspects of wet and needle felting. Wool tops normally come in long lengths and are about the thickness of your wrist. Wool tops separate easily if you pull gently but if you pull hard the fibres will lock together as wool has tiny scales which fix together.


Wet Felting - A process that involves a loose pile of wool fibres, the addition of soapy water, massaging the fibres until they hold together (felting) and then shocking the cloth to shrink and strengthen it (fulling).


Wool – a natural fibre produced by sheep. Sheep grow wool on their bodies in the same that way people grow hair; each year a sheep produces a new fleece thus making wool a renewable fibre source.

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