I am starting my felting journey at the beginning. I began thinking about the wool that I eventually felt and how it gets to the tops and batts that I buy. So I did a little research. I will not cover the whole process of sheering the sheep to making the felt but I will cover as much as I can over the next few weeks.
So we begin with the raw wool that comes from the sheep. It cannot be used until it is cleaned and washed because of course this has been the coat of an animal. It is dirty and oily. The oil is lanolin which occurs naturally on the skin of sheep. Lanolin is secreted by the sebaceous glands of the sheep and acts as waterproofing which helps to keep them warm.
Once the wool is removed from the sheep (it is similar to a hair cut for them) it must be cleaned and washed. The washing process is called scouring. Depending on the conditions that the sheep live in will determine how dirty the wool is. Free range animals may pick up more debris than others. All of them will have manure, hay, vegetable matter and perhaps sticks, brambles and other things that may be picked up outside. In order to use the wool is must be thoroughly cleaned. There are several steps involved.
Next time I will get into the cleaning process.