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What does 'Felted' Mean ?

What is the difference between a felted Scarf and a knitted scarf ?

At Jayne Gillan Designs, You may notice that our handmade products are 'Felted'

This is a completely different process of wool to knitting, though some may be aware of a process where knitted Items are felted.

Let me address the process of knitting first and then explain how felting is different.

Knitting involves using spun wool. The yarns generally bought have been super-wash treated, meaning it has been chemically treated to remove the natural spines from the wool. When you knit with this wool it won't shrink.

If you buy untreated 100% Wool, and knit it, it will shrink in the washing machine with

heat and agitation (or Felt) as the spines lock together and matt.

Felting on the other hand uses unspun and untreated wool. It is a controlled matting together of the wool, using soap and agitation to create a fabric. No Knitting required. The layout shrinks in the process, making a tight and firm wool felt material. In summary you cannot Felt treated super-wash wool.

So are there Benefits and Cons between both processes ? Absolutely, there are quite some major differences :

  • Knitted items with treated super-wash wool have lost the properties and benefits of wool. They will not be as insulating and warm as those that have been knitted (or felted) with untreated wool. Hence your traditional untreated 100% wool Aran sweater is a better buy in terms of warmth and which allows your skin to breathe without sweating.

  • Felting can be a quicker process than knitting, and many other fibres can be used in the felting process to create beautiful effects. It can also be applied to many different things, like ART, Sculpture, Rugs, Blankets, Slippers & Shoes, Caps & Hats, and of course Clothing.

  • Felted Clothing is more water resistant and insulating, as it has very close matted fibres, which keep droplets of water on the surface.

  • Felted items are not stretchy, hence they hold their shape a lot longer than knitted items. They also hold memory of shape, so if you put a felted vessel ( ie a felted bowl or hat) in a tank full of water, it will retain its shape.

Some clothes designers for this reason will knit first with untreated wool, for the knitted effect, and

then felt the items by shrinking them. This makes them hold shape, and they will not come apart in

the stitching or fray when cut.

Regarding the properties of real wool, well thats for another Blog - coming soon.

If you have any questions, then please do pop them in the comments, and i will answer.

Some examples of various felted items : Slippers, vessel 3D, decorative scarves, 3D flower, Felted Collar


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