Fulling is the process of washing woollen fabric to produce a feltlike fabric. It is often mistakenly called felting, which is worked on carded unspun wool, whilst fulling is worked on a finished fabric. Fulled fabric is soft, spongy and has a brushed appearance; any garment that is fulled will be more dense and warmer than one that is not.
Fulling can only be worked on yarns that are 100 per cent wool; it doesn't work on synthetics, cotton or wools that have been treated to be machine washable. The treatment withstands exactly the changes that are needed to full a garment. During fulling, the wool expands, fibres mesh together and individual stitches close up so it is hard to see fulled stitches. The finished fabric will also shrink by up to 10 per cent in length and width.
Hand or machine fulling?
The two methods for fulling a fabric are by hand or washing machine. By hand offers the most control, you can stop and check the fabric at every stage. By machine is less hard work, and you can full a number of items together, but it is not as easy to control.There is no single recipe for fulling, each yarn reacts differently and may be easier or harder to full.To experiment, knit several identical samples in the yarn you are using making a note of needle size and gauge (tension). Keep one sample aside to compare with the fulled samples.
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