The History Of Wool

The story of wool began long ago when primitive man first clothed himself. It has durable qualities to help protect from the cold, wind and rain. A versatile fabric which is used globally to this day. Astronauts wear wool for comfort, it protects mountain climbers, polar scientists and sailors who navigate oceans of the world.

Even before 10,000 BC, wool cloth was being spun and woven by the tribes of northern Europe. To spin it they took the wool in one hand and drew it out, twisting it into a thread with the fingers of the other hand. The result was a thick uneven yarn. Later, a crude spindle was developed by fitting a stone or clay ring to the end of a short wooden stick. The ring acted as a flywheel and enabled the drawn-out yarn to be wound on to the spindle. This method of spinning was used for thousands of years and is still used by communities in various parts of the world.

The lampshades are made from the soft and lustrous wool of the Wensleydale sheep. The Wensleydale breed has long luxurious curls which give the fine felt its unique texture. The book covers are made using Shetland wool, utilising the fibre’s hard wearing nature which makes it ideal for a felt which will be handled as much as these are. The soaps use a wide range of British breeds of wool including Shetland, Blue-faced Leicester and Corridale.

Felt Making

Felt is a non-woven textile that is made by felting wool fibres together to make an impenetrable fabric that can be cut without fraying or degrading the edges. The basic treatment is either by wet-felting the fibres or dry-felting using felting needles.

Clare Ashton primarily uses the wet-felting technique to make the felt for her products, but does occasionally needle-felt for her one-off commissions. Clare started using only British wool around 2010 and by utilising a variety of wet-felting techniques she can use the qualities of each breed to create different textures, strengths and qualities of felt.