Wool has many unique properties. One of which is the ability to stick to itself. Every individual wool fiber has tiny barbs on it. When these wool fibers move around during processing they grab on to each other. It is this property of wool that allows us to spin it into yarn and to make felted fabric.
Wool felt can be made either by wet felting or needle felting. Wet felting uses warm or hot water, soap, and agitation by hand or machine to bring the wool fibers together. (This is why wool sweaters and blankets shrink in the washing machine!) Needle felting is a process where needles with small barbs on them pass through wool causing the fibers to grab on to each other. The more the needles are put into and through the wool, the tighter and more compact the felt will become. Needle felting can be done by hand to create small figurines or even "painted' pictures. It can also be done using a machine to create larger pieces of material.
In the photos below there is a pile of washed and carded wool that is then passed through the needles multiple times. You can see the resulting fabric after just a few passes.
Here is a video of the machine as it is working.
The wool felt we use to make our dog coats is made at a mill utilizing a slightly larger machine than the one pictured. A base color of wool is created and then additional colors are added to create the patterning you see in many of our felts.
Wool felt fabric can be great for clothing and dog coats. It keeps the snow and rain off of the dogs and keeps their warmth in. It dries quickly as well. Visit A Woof In Sheep's Clothing to learn more about how we are keeping dogs warm and dry this winter!
We also use the fabric for shoe/boot inserts to keep feet warm and odors down. It works well for drink coasters to keep table tops free of condensation. It also makes zipper pouches that are soft to the touch and one of a kind treasure keepers or knitting bags.