There is more to felting and fibre arts than just commercial wool tops. There are many animals fibres that felt. Using wool and animal fibres in different stages of the process can enhance felting and fibre projects.  The whole process or preparing fibre, from washing raw fleece to carding and dyeing is discussed here. We also outline the properties of the fibres from sheep and other animals commonly used in fibre arts.

Raw fleece is a term that means that the wool has been sheered from the sheep but has not been washed. Though some sheep are washed prior to shearing, the fleece is still greasy from the natural lanolin. Other animals fleece such as Alpaca, Llama, Bison, Yak or Angora don’t have lanolin.

Scoured is the term used for commercially washed wool. All of the dirt and the majority of vegetable matter is removed at this stage. Many times harsh chemicals are used to clean the wool. When wool is washed at home, the best type of detergent to use is a grease cutting dish detergent like Dawn.

Wool can be purchased in a variety of forms. Batts are cleaned and carded fibre, where all the tangles have been removed from the fibres. Batts have fibers that run in various directions and are all not aligned in the same direction. Roving is a narrow strip of carded wool. Roving has most of the fibers running in the lengthwise direction. Roving comes in different sizes, pencil roving being the smallest. Tops is the most processed form of wool, all the fibres are smooth and running in the same direction as the wool has been carded and combed.

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