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January 31, 2006

Fulling vs. Felting

Yesterday I had the pleasure of eating lunch with a very intelligent, very creative, 13 year old fiber enthusiast.  Over blueberries we discussed the projects we were working on, the fibers we loved, and the ideas we had brewing.  One of my latest ideas is to combine knitting with quilting.  To begin I plan to knit a small quilt top, lightly felt it, and use decorative stitches to attach the quilt layers.  To this idea, my partner in crime replied, "I think you mean fulling not felting".  A bit of googling found these definition in Llamapaedia's Fiber Glossary

Fulling -- A finishing process in which the woven or knitted cloth is subjected to moisture, heat and friction causing it to shrink considerably in both directions and become compact and solid. In heavily fulled fabrics both the weave and the yarn are obscured, thus giving the appearance of felt.

Felting -- An ancient technique that produces a non woven sheet of matted material which is most frequently made from wool, hair or fur created by the entanglement of a mass of fibers that takes place when heat, moisture and pressure are combined

My young friend was right!  Keep your ears open, my friends, you never know where -- or from whom -- you'll learn something new.

January 31, 2006 in Vignettes From the Life of a Knitter | Permalink


I have made Nuno Felt before with some very non-fibre ingredients: Bubble wrap, window screening and an orbital sander. I laid out three very thin, wispy layers of alpaca roving cross the bubble wrap: first horizontally, then vertically, then finally horizontally again. I then sprayed the roving with some very weak hot soapy water, then laid down the screening. Finally, I buzzed the whole lot with the sander (which had no paper on it), which caused the friction. In the end I had a gossamer thin piece of felt that had a cobweb appearance, because the roving pulls apart in some areas creating holes.

Posted by: Christina | Jan 31, 2006 8:14:37 PM

Thanks! I've actually been wondering what the difference was. :)

Posted by: stephanie | Jan 31, 2006 9:45:59 PM

Yeah... I kow fulling is the CORRECT term, but for some reason, I don't like it. I always use felt/felting, but I do feel guilty about it... I tend to feel like I have to explain why I'm using the wrong word. Heh... silly me!

Posted by: Leisel | Jan 31, 2006 9:46:35 PM

Hmmm - and according to Wikipedia in ancient times fulling was generally done using stale human urine - apparently priests' urine was especially highly favoured... maybe I'll stick to saying felting after all!

Posted by: Anne | Feb 1, 2006 12:43:07 AM

I knew this because I read about it in either Felted Knits or Knit One, Felt Too. I guess publishers think the technically wrong term sounds better for a book title.

Posted by: Laura | Feb 1, 2006 1:44:38 AM

And I always thought "fulling" was "felting" with a scottish accent....

Can't wait to see your quilt top, I love the way you think!

Posted by: gale (she shoots sheep shots) | Feb 1, 2006 4:39:04 AM

Does your young friend have a blog?

I've heard that it is actually fulling, but I was never sure what the felting was, so thanks for getting us the clarification.

Posted by: Purly Whites | Feb 1, 2006 10:13:49 AM

Eurrrr I still don't really understand. Is the main difference that it's "fulling" if you knit it first, but "felting" if you don't?

Posted by: Erika | Feb 1, 2006 9:52:18 PM

Erika - exactly - knit or woven first = fulling, just fiber = felting. Though I did NOT know that the fulling term applied to knitted goods too (Weaving, yes - weaving for garment construction - vice embellishment - isn't traditionaly considered finished until it's fulled).

Though I SHOULD have known, considering the 'boiled' Tyrolean (?sp) jacket sweaters.

Cool blog, Nona.

Posted by: Karla (ThreadBndr) | Feb 8, 2006 4:45:57 AM

Sorry, no blog. I learned about that in the Winter 2005 edition of Handwoven magazine. They talked about it alot.

Posted by: the fiber enthusiast | Mar 27, 2006 2:08:24 PM

yo sabo esta 'fulling' yo uso 'felting'. apolojesia.

Posted by: calla | May 4, 2006 5:46:17 PM

lo siento, es 'lo siento' no 'apolojesia'. es gramatica muy raramente en ingles.
i'm going to talk in english from now on, ok?

Posted by: calla | Jun 25, 2006 4:46:32 PM

Amazing! I am a 13-year old fiber enthusiast who loe blueberries! And I DO have a blog!

Posted by: Helena | Feb 27, 2007 8:14:06 AM

I am a feltmaker. Felt is a non-woven fabric. Fulling is the final process of shrinking the fabric, whether it be felted wool or knitted wool. First we create the "fabric" (felt or knit or woven or..) then we full.

Posted by: Andrea Graham | Apr 27, 2009 10:07:02 AM

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