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White sheep's wool

Sheep’s wool to make felt

What you need to make felt:

raw wool from a sheep. Any color is fine.
liquid dish soap
bowl of hot water
running water (a tap)
a piece of cloth or a straw placemat

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What to do:

Take a handful of wool and gently pull it apart over and over until it is very fluffy.
Lay it out in a square on top of a kitchen counter or on the grass outside so that all the strands of wool are going the same direction.
Place another handful of wool on top of the first layer, but going the other direction – perpendicular to the first strands. Repeat with a third layer (going the same way as the first layer).

What does perpendicular mean?

Now put a drop of liquid dish soap into your bowl of hot water. Pour about a cup of water over your wool mat. It should be really wet. Press the soapy water into the wool with your hands so it is all soggy and flat. Gently mush the wool mat around with your hands flat around and around until it feels like one piece of cloth. Then turn it over gently and mush the other side.
Squeeze out the hot soapy water and rinse your felt in running water.

Fulling your felt

Fulling is the next step in making felt. Put your felt on your placemat or cloth and rub it on the placemat. Give it a quarter turn and rub the other way; keep turning, and also turning your felt over, and keep rubbing. Then rinse and squeeze your felt one more time to get rid of the last of the soap. Then leave it out to dry.

Why did people make felt?

Felting saves a lot of time over spinning and weaving. Spinning and weaving took forever, and even though it takes time to make felt too, it took much less time than other kinds of cloth. But felt makes heavy, warm cloth. Further south, in hot places, people needed lighter clothing so they had to spin and weave it. Is this what made Central Asian women so much less oppressed than women in West Asia and China? Maybe so.

More about spinning
And about weaving
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Bibliography and further reading about felt:

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