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By green_fairy On 03/21/04  

does anyone know how to do felting with out wool? it there any kind of alternative material that would work just as well? (no animal products) I'd really like to try felting but if it involves wool, I can't.

By garnetta On 03/21/04  

I hate to rain on your parade, but I think the actually physical nature of wool fibers is what allows felting. The heat and friction change the structure of the fibers, allowing the scaly outer layer to lie upon itself differently. It's almost like teasing or ratting your hair. I don't think you will get the same effect from synthetics...they are made to NOT react to heat and friction.

By green_fairy On 03/21/04  

arrg. what about non synthetics like cotton?

By misshawklet On 03/21/04  

i think a lot of felt is now made synthetically. Those felt squares you see in stores are usually synethetic. Just check the labels.

As far as other things, hmmm, cotton might be fun to try. You could get cotton linters that are used for papermaking and try it. That might be an interesting experiment. I think they may even come in colors.

let us know!

yes, see!!>
if you don't care about doing it yourself, you can just order it!

Also, I'm not sure where you live, but if you are living in a rural area, you could get wool right from a farm, this is the perfect season actually, since its spring and sheep shearing season! It doens't hurt the animal and if you choose a farm, you know its one that treats their animals with respect. Just an idea if you are open to it!
I'm in Vermont so if this is something you want to try I can help you out with getting some wool!

By Katrin On 03/21/04  

Garnetta's right; only animal fibers (hair) can be felted. Plant fibers (like cotton, linen, rayon - yes, rayon's made from plants) don't have the same structure. They might shrink or stretch or do other crazy things with washing, but they won't felt.

I don't know about synthetics. I think it's probably true that craft-store felt is a synthetic material - but I doubt that you could achieve a felted effect on your own with, say, knitted synthetic yarn.

By crazybones On 03/22/04  

I think with the synthetics, they steam the hell out of it, like when you make particleboard out of wood fragments.

Would you be more comfortable with a smaller privately owned company's wool? There are smaller spinneries that treat their animals very humanely, and have smaller stocks (better kept animals.)

By BubbleDragon On 03/22/04  

Not to mention the fact that sheep actually need to be sheared of their wool to be healthy. I could understand a vegan problem with say, angora, where the animal actually has to be harmed for the fur to be harvested, but wool isn't an issue to some vegans.


By ookpik On 03/22/04  

just to be the irritating vegan, i'd like to point out that wool production is not a cruelty free enterprise just because the sheep don't die. wool lambs have their tails chopped, their ears pierced, and their balls cut off without anaesthetic. to avoid losing any wool, sheep are sheared *before* they would naturally shed, so many do die every year from exposure. being held down for shearing is stressful too.

anyway. since only animal hair truly felts, maybe an animal-free alternative would be playing with steamed synthetics? somebody posted in the recent glass marble thread about putting polyester fabric in a pressure cooker to fix it into weird textures and shapes.

By ursonate On 03/22/04  

Actually I've been to a store full of felted items that were all acrylic. They used some machine needle felting technique. So yes it can be done with non-animal materials. It's just a matter of finding the fibers with the correct properties.

Never say never...

By aspiring On 03/23/04  

Ursonate: Do you remember what store is it that sells synthetic felted things? I simply love those felted pom poms! and would love to get some that aren't made of animal fibres.

By BubbleDragon On 03/22/04  

Good points, Ookpik.

Although, as some other posters mentioned, it's possible that the entire industry isn't like that - as they suggested actually visiting local farms, etc.

It's just that to me, just because some people do something cruel and inhuman, it doesn't incriminate the whole enterprise. It's like saying that people shouldn't own dogs because some immoral people run puppy mills where they keep the females pregnant constantly, ween puppies too early, cut vocal chords to keep unhappy dogs in wire cages set out in the elements from yapping, etc. There are alternative ways to bend your money - visit your puppy breeder, or get a dog from a kennel.

Likewise, in the 'wool' argument, one could make a moral decision to only use wool recycled from sweaters at goodwill - where the blood money has already been paid to unscrupulus (sp?) companies, and the damage done in that sense, but the money you yourself spend goes to charity. Or as mentioned previously, actually visit a farm - I remember reading about an alpaca farm/yarn producer who treat their animals with care and love, and even put their name/story on skeins of yarn made from their fiber!

None the less, it's morals vs. morals, and those can't really be judged equally.

Oh, and the needle thing someone mentioned might work - I remember reading about it, but I didn't know if it was just for animal fiber or not.

By ookpik On 03/22/04  

bubbles, i agree completely that generalizations about industry cruelty are rarely accurate. i just wanted to make sure we weren't getting too cosy with generalizations in the other direction, and assuming that wool farming is always friendly unlike the angora or leather industries.

and... done. i hate playing the irritating vegan!

By Morgan On 03/22/04  

Here's a website about the baaadness of the wool industry: >
But as for cruelty-free wool, if you find a 4-H or FFA member who raises & shows sheep, they shear their sheep themselves, & usually just throw the wool away. They treat their animals really well (usually... I think...), but maybe you're against having pets or think it's bad... I don't know... good luck!

By crazybones On 03/22/04  

What happens to the angora rabbits? I didn't realize that it was bad for them to get their hair used.

By lililamalice On 03/23/04  

those rabbits are plucked for their wool. It seems like shearing them is just not good enough or doesn't produce top quality wool.

By ursonate On 03/23/04  

mmmm, rabbits...

The store is Liora Manne. I don't think they sell pom poms though. Their shoes and handbags were nice. Also the lamps were to die for:

By misshawklet On 03/23/04  

not to be a bitch, but can we get back to the topic at hand? does everything have to be an arguement/debate, even on the crafty board?

By crazybones On 03/23/04  

<says soothingly**>

I don't think it's turned into an argument. Since DIY felting with synthetics is difficult, I think some people offered dome suggestions that might be acceptable to the orginal poster. Other people, like me, had further questions about the semi-off topic item of discussion.

Sometimes threads digress, just like a regular conversation that meanders off a bit, but meanders back again. So far, everyone has been nice and low stress about it, so I wouldn't fret. :)

<gently returning to original thread>

What are you using the felt for? If it's for crafts (as in, not to wear) then maybe try ordinary synthetic felt?

**I'm feeling beatific today, as a result of massive Nutella consumption. I would like to share my feelings of peace and harmony, because I refuse to share my Nutella.

By misshawklet On 03/23/04  

maybe I just need spoonful of nutella. ;)

By green_fairy On 03/23/04  

I was thinking of making some nice felted slippers to keep my toes warm. I've never tried felting.... but I'm not sure how well it would work.... I guess I could give it a try. thanks for your suggestions.

By mishymisu On 03/23/04  

Well, although people have mentioned that you can press together synthetics with a lot of pressure and a bit of glue to become something that is similar looking to felt, it's still not felt. it won't have the properties that make felt so nice, in particular the almost clay-like pliability of felt. Since you're just making simple slippers, this is propably not a problem but if you were interested in making felt for the purposes of something like molding hats, it's not going to work. It's going to pull apart when you stretch it and it will not hold it's shape like real felt will. For those properties, you need the real hair. sorry.

By crazybones On 03/24/04  

hehe. I would probably share my Nutella with you, MissH. :) Everryone else though, watch out!

Regarding the Soy Yarn, here's a review here:>

and here's the company here:>

They research their wools (when used) to be sure that the farms treat their animals humanely:

(fyi: the felting yarn is 50% wool.)

If you use this, please post on how it worked for you!

By bonnell99 On 04/02/04  

Just FYI, plucking is combing--it pulls out already loose hair. It's not plucking eyebrows where you're pulling out attached hair.

Bascially, you're combing the loose shedded fur out of the bunny.

By crazybones On 04/02/04  

oh, ok. I was thinking that it must be horribly painful for the rabbits, and then maybe their fur wouldn't grow back properly?

Plus, can you imagine how long it would take to pluck a rabbit?

By kamarria On 03/23/04  

There is actually one option for felting that's not animal fiber! Soy silk is supposed to felt quite nicely, or so I read in one of the knit mags recently (though I can't remember which).

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