Like all the best things in life, great craftsmanship is simple. A chef can’t prepare world-class delicacies without pure ingredients. Farmers can’t yield a plentiful harvest without sowing robust seeds. And crafters can’t create beautiful designs that can be passed on from generation to generation without quality materials.
As needle felters, we need to be more conscious of how our materials are sourced—not just for the outcome of our projects, but for the sustainability of the industry as a whole.
In the spirit of getting to know this multi-faceted material that we love so much, here are 10 fun facts about wool!
1. Though fabrics like silk and satin come to mind when we think of royalty, wool was a kingdom staple back in the 18th-century. When the king of Norway forbade the wearing of silk by commoners, farmers chose to wear imported wool fabric—it had a similar shine to the prohibited textiles!
2. In a time where our planet’s health is more important than ever, it’s wonderful to know that wool is also biodegradable! Breaking down slowly and fertilizing the plants with 17% nitrogen content, wool’s impact is twice that of commercial turf products.
3. Though we wouldn’t recommend sitting close to the bonfire with your favorite wool cardigan, it is worth stating that this natural material has a high natural ignition point of nearly 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike polyester and nylon, wool is fire-resistant and does not drip or melt if it does catch fire!
4. If you’re a fan of America’s favorite pastime, you owe a huge thank you to sheep! If you could take a peek inside a baseball, you’d find layers of tightly wound wool yarn—approximately 370 yards if you want to get specific. These wool pieces provide resilience to high-velocity pitches.
5. The U.S. Army is currently researching wool’s potential to help protect combat troops from explosive blasts.
6. In America, we usually associate wool with sheep, but in all parts of the world alpacas, camels and even goats are used to produce fibers that can be used for textiles.
7. There’s really no such thing as a wool allergy! If that scratchy sweater leaves you with uncomfortable rashes, it’s most likely a sensitivity to the thick and coarse fiber diameter or fiber ends.
8. In New Zealand and parts of Montana, roadsides are being equipped with woolen silt fences and erosion-control blankets. With wool’s astounding natural properties, it is able to provide lightweight coverage while allowing seeds to grow and prosper underneath!
9. Wool can absorb and repel water…simultaneously!
10. Since the beginning, wool has been a valuable commodity. Cistercian monks paid the Holy Roman emperor in 50,000 sacks of wool!
After reading about all of wool’s different uses, doesn’t it make you want to cuddle up with your next needle felting project? At Bear Creek we raise a flock of sheep that have been carefully selected for their quality felting wool. Our sheep are treated with the utmost love and care. If you like to know where your wool comes from you can rest assured that the wool from Bear Creek comes from a well managed and cared for flock. Follow along on Instagram and Facebook where I share behind the scenes glimpses of our life raising sheep and the process our wool goes through. You may also want to become a member of the Bear Creek Felting Academy and join our community of passionate felters as we uncover new techniques, share tips & tricks, and bond over our love for the craft!