Written by Laura Smith of Folksy shop Made by Lolly All of the images used in this article are from items available on www.folksy.com – please click the images for more details.
Back in January 2010, HRH The Prince of Wales announced a cross-industry initiative called The Campaign for Wool.
The project aims to promote the versatility and sustainability of this natural fibre with the intention of increasing demand, which has been declining recently. The campaign is supported by many high profile brands including Debenhams, John Lewis and M&S, and you can see a video relating to the campaign launch at the end of this post.
One of the higher profile aspects of the campaign is to be National Wool Week. Originally scheduled for September, the dates were changed and now National Wool Week is running from 11th until the 17th October. Many organisations are getting involved and there are numerous events planned throughout the week. However my favourite has to be the Savile Row Field Day where the London street, most famous for world class tailoring, will be closed to traffic and laid to turf in order to allow Exmoor Horn and Bowmoor sheep to graze freely!
Here at Folksy we are also going to be joining in the celebrations (who needs an excuse to join in a party!) and will be helping to promote National Wool Week by showcasing all things woolly! Look out for knitting, crochet, felting and a selection of woolly themed Featured items!
However, browsing through the many woolly items available on Folksy, it seems that us crafty folk don’t need a campaign or a special week to understand the benefits of wool – we already know how amazing it actually is! Natural, sustainable and biodegradable, wool is also incredibly versatile. It is elastic, highly insulating, and water repellent, and can be strong and hard wearing as well as soft and delicate. It can be dyed and combined with other fibres to produce different effects – the possible end uses for wool seem endless! And as you would expect, there are many fantastic examples of how wool is used here on Folksy…
Well it all starts with the sheep, whose fleeces are removed when they are sheared. The fleece then goes through a number of processes, beginning with a thorough washing to clean the wool of dirt, vegetable matter (and dare I say it… sheep poo!), before it is ‘teased’ to loosen and remove the fibres from the fleece. The fibres are then carded or combed to ensure they are all laying in the same direction. Bundles of carded wool are called roving, and it is in this form that we start to see wool appear on Folksy.
The wool that you buy can now be processed in two very different ways. The fibres can either be spun to produce yarn, which is then used in weaving, knitting or crochet, or alternatively the carded wool fibres can be made to mesh together to produce a non woven fabric – felt!
There are two methods by which felting can occur. The first is the more traditional wet felting method – which involves soap, water and a lot of agitation! The second is needle felting where the fibres are repeatedly stabbed with a special needle. Both methods work by encouraging the ‘scales’ on the individual fibres to interlock until they have totally meshed together.
However, there is also a third method by which wool can be felted – and I would think that most of us had done it at some point or another, whether we meant to or not! More accurately called ‘fulling’, this is the art (or mistake!) of shrinking a pre-woven or knitted article that has been made out of wool.
So that just about ‘rounds-up’ my ‘flock’ of woolly items, but now that I have wet your whistle, why not check out the other woolly items that are available to buy on Folksy. Don’t be ‘sheepish’ – you’ll be helping to support The Campaign for Wool and who knows – you may even come across a handmade ‘baaa-gain!’ (Sorry! Couldn’t resist!)