Wool

It all began with sheep domestication around 11.000 BP. That‘s when people realized that for gaining fleece there‘s no need to kill an animal. The Romans then crossbred them for quicker growth of wool and whiter fleece which is better for dying. There are also records from 5.000 BP of woolen garments being worn in Britain. Pharaohs in Egypt were commonly buried in wool garments, which have also been preserved. The Mongolians used felted wool to build houses (called Yurts) which still prevail as a rural form of life here.

With the emerging textile industry in the 19th century and users' need for very fine quality, wool produced by common sheep breeds stopped being good enough. Wool from specialized breeds started to be shipped from all over the world. And in the middle of the 20th century, they started to make woven garments from cheaper synthetic yarns. The wool was no longer needed. This struggle of sheep farmers has remained to this day. Wool was a commodity that could be sold for some money before, but in the last years even that hasn't been paying off. Wool has to be thrown away or burned in incinerators and the farmers are paying instead of earning.

Wool Spinning

Fibre. Hand. Rotation. Intelligence. Technology. What once was a bunch of fibres becomes a line using intelligence of our mind and body. With the gentle pull of our hand, we allign few fibres and allow them to twist with the rotation of other hand, spindle or spinning machine.

By this specific movement, we coordinate fibers to form a yarn with desirable qualities. Thick, fine, smooth – qualities of yarn can change with different movement of our hands, but they also depend on given qualities of fibres. The breed, part of fleece, climate conditions are aspects that have direct effect on the fibre growth on the microscopic level.
The spun yarn is still unstable and has to be in tension to retain a certain shape. The trick for yarn, which is not twisting back is to overtwist it, catch it in the middle and let both ends to twist around each other. Thus, to form an entanglement of oposite equal forces which eliminate each other. This is also a process that gives us the ability to produce even more variables of the yarn.

Wool fiber and its qualities

Wool is a common and ordinary material with exceptional qualities. Its basic building unit is a fiber and it’s in them specifically where individual keys to all of the wool properties come from.

Wool is water repellent thanks to high wax content. But at the same time it can retain moisture up to 30% of its own weight and still keep itself dry. Thanks to this quality it can be a perfect insulation and it can control a humidity level in space. On top of the fibre are also specific keratin scales. They can range from 200 to 1000 per cm. The higher the scale count, the higher quality of the wool, the more heat it will retain, the more likely it is to felt and easier it is to spin together.

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Felting

Felt is a mass of wool that is entangled and dense enough to hold a shape and show some qualities.

Dry felting

A very impressive process to entangle wool with a special carved needle. The needle takes a few fibers and pushes them deep into other ones to create a strong bond. It leads within the structure. Any possible shape can be achieved but on just a limited scale as both the tool and the basic building material – the fiber - are very small and it takes hours to hand felt just a little piece. The felt is firmed locally but very effectively.

Wet felting


The process enabled us to make a big piece of ‚felt fabric‘. We got inspired by multiple old traditions like Mongolian and Iranian. And by laying numerous layers of just a slightly loosened wool, pouring it with hot water with detergent to erect keratin scales on individual fibers, and then pushing, pulling, rolling, and stepping on the piece to make the felt as entangled as possible. The outcome was very dense, solid and opposite to a dry felt, very homogenous.

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