What is felt?
Felt is a pressed, matted fabric formed by the interlocking of certain unspun fibres, most notably wool. No spinning, weaving, or knitting is involved. Rather, through a combination of heat, moisture, and pressure, each individual fibre become completely entangled with the other fibres around it. The tangled mass forms a natural, self-tightening, felted mat. Looked at under a microscope, felt appears as just such a tangle of intertwined fibres, with irregular open areas.
Felt retains a percentage of natural lanolin from the sheep. This combined with the density of the felt will repel water and make it a product that is windproof and showerproof.
A brief history of felt making
Felt is perhaps the oldest textile material. Archaeological evidence shows that from very early on people had discovered the tendency for fibres to mat together when warm and damp (before they learnt to spin or weave). It is believed that the nomadic people of Central Asia were the first to learn the techniques for making felt.
Not only was felt used for clothing but also for saddles, curtains, rugs, coffin coverings, bottle cases, mattresses, shelter and for ceremonial purposes as well. Felt relics have been found dating back to 1500-1000 B.C. Places felt has been discovered include Turkey, Mongolia, Scandinavia, Germany and Siberia. Obviously the properties of wool, hence felt, was greatly appreciated and exploited thousands of years ago.