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The wonder of wool

Wool may not spring to your mind as being a 'force' of nature, but I'd like to put forward such a case as it's 'full of energy, unforgettable and unstoppable'.

I'm a simple person, and physics was hardly a strong point at school but I do believe that wool is full of energy - how else can it be transformed from natural sheep's clothing to all manner of products - wool yarn, felt (of course), insulation and acoustics. Its strength and waterproof qualities still make wool the textile of choice for armed forces and firemen uniforms due to its fire retardant nature.

If you look at wool fibre under a microscope you will see it has barbs and by encouraging these on one fibre to open and fuse with the barbs on the next, a strong bond is made - the basis for felting and spinning.

As for being unforgettable - we only have to look around us - wool has been used for years to make high quality and hard-wearing carpets, tweed, upholstery, house insulation and bedding. Knitted garments are enjoying a come-back - although the hand-knitted 'bathers' worn by previous generations are possibly best forgotten - and merino wool is excellent for compression garments and running shoes.

Of course, it would be remiss of me to forget to mention my own fabulous feltings which are truely unique and unforgettable - I have recently completed a fabuous silk and wool patchwork throw from vintage fabrics which I hope will become another heirloom piece. There will be no stitching, sticking or sewing - wool's magical properties will bond everything together. See image below - it already looks like a patchwork quilt even though no quilting technique has been used. During the felting process, wool fibres migrate through the silk fabric; the wool then shrinks but the silk doesn't. Instead, the silk 'crinkles', giving the impression of quilting. Pure magic!

Unstoppable - wool uses are endless and who knows what further uses will be dreamt of. Did you know for example that you can use wool mulch pads in your garden? It will supress weeds, retain moisture and biodegrade harmlessly after time. Also available and made from wool are; slug pellets, garden string, wool bricks and eco-friendly packaging, in addition to using wool's high absorbancy to clean up marine oil spills, and cleaning up mess around your home. If you have any sheep farmers where you live, I'm sure they'll sell you a fleece or two for not even the price of a cup of coffee.

Have you been converted? Do you agree with me that wool is quite a force of nature? If so, I'd love to see you at one of my workshops to learn some more.

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