Wool felting is a great way to change the texture of woollen items. Felting makes woollen items stronger and more durable, which is great for items that get regularly used. The felting process involves brushing and sometimes washing, which helps to remove loose pieces of wool and helping the delicate fibres to knit against each other.
Please note that felting is a one-time process. It is not comparable to washing or cleaning Merino wool. Felting is a way of altering or changing the structure of the wool.
Here are some options if you are looking for ways to incorporate wool felting into your chunky wool projects.
Hand felting is one of the simplest ways to get started with felting. The crafter simply runs their hands down the woollen thread and removes any loose fibres, smoothing the surface of the wool. Hand felting is a relatively quick way to felt and doesn't make much of a change to the overall dimensions of the wool, so you can use the same knitting or crafting plans with little alteration required.
The next stage of felting is to soak the wool in water and hand wring the fluid out once it has been fully absorbed. This will initially cause the wool to expand, then to smooth and contract once dried. This can be a tricky one to attempt singlehandedly, as chunky wool tends to get quite heavy once wet.
Finally, wool can also be felted in a washing machine on either a cold or hot wash and then flat dried afterwards. You can use a machine with no agitator only and a full load. I’d recommend cold water only if you do not want completely felt your chunky wool. The hotter the water used for the felting, the heavier the felting effect. This will make the wool much smoother and more durable, but also makes the wool thread much smaller and smoother as well as making the thread less soft. As the wool is a lot smaller after the felting, any patterns that you want to use the thread on will need to be modified because the wool thread will be much smaller than estimated in the pattern.
If you are looking to felt wool to create a unique texture or more durable final product in your chunky wool crafting, choosing a quality wool is important. This will help ensure the wool thread has consistent texture and shrinkage during the felting process.