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Thread: Boiled wool

  1. #1
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    Default Boiled wool

    I found a pair of boiled wool mittens that have become a winter favorite.

    IMG_2060[14368].jpg

    I came across this article about New England fisherman who wore these.

    https://newengland.com/today/living/...-wool-mittens/


    "Time was that when a man went out in his boat in winter, he took his wool mittens off a nail on board, dipped them in the warm water from the engine, wrung them out, and put them on wet."

    They were tough souls.

    Anyone else wear boiled wool clothing?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    I had a nice wool cycling jersey that went through the washer and dryer and came out a perfect pullover coat for my daughter when she was 2 yrs old.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    My father and grandfather were both longshoremen. They spoke of " old timers" wearing wool gloves dipped in seawater. Neither dad or papa did it themselves.

    "Old timers" would have meant people born around 1900 for my father and around 1870 or 1880 for my grandfather.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    there was a time when i could work bare-handed in freezing rain for hours at a time.

    i recall a couple seasons i used fingerless wool gloves, but they would get destroyed in just a few days of use. so i went back to barehanding.

    now, i get a chill when i get up to pee at night and the house is down to 60f. makes me feel older than i am.

  5. #5
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    Default

    You make "boiled wool" by knitting a garment roughly twice the desired sized, of wool yarn, usually spun "in the grease", meaning it hasn't been washed to remove the lanolin — how much oversize is dependent on the yarn, and how tightly the garment was knitted, etc.

    A wool fiber looks like this under an electron microscope.



    The garment then gets washed in hot water and and mechanically agitated. Once the wool absorbs the hot water, the scales in the above photomicrograph open up. The mechanical agitation causes the fibers to interlock because of the open scales, and felt. And the hot water causes the wool to shrink, making a tight, windproof and nearly waterproof garment.

    You can still by real boiled wool from Dachstein in Austria:

    https://www.sweaterchalet.com/dachst...s-caps-gloves/
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    I bought #2 son a French guernsey from the admirable Arthur Beale, on line. It’s one size too big and that pattern is no longer made so I have undertaken to shrink it one size…
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    I went on a rafting trip down a small "river" in the White Mountains in early May with a group of kids from Wellesley College years ago. At the time I was a spinner, knitter, weaver, etc. so I grabbed all the pairs of knit wool mittens I had around the studio and threw them in the car.

    Of course, everyone got wet hands, and soon their plastic gloves were useless. So I handed out the wool mittens which performed exactly as they were supposed to do.

    Wet wool conserves body heat, just like dry wool. (Gloves are a terrible idea anyway, because they isolate the fingers so they can't keep each other warm.)

    I wear silk glove liners now, under wool half-finger gloves with the fold back mitten, when I go shooting in the winter. The silk is better than any synthetics for staying warm, but just barely holds its own against the cold, and is easily cut through by fingernails. If you've ever worn silk stockings, you know about that problem.
    Last edited by elf; 12-04-2022 at 05:47 PM.
    A society predicated on the assumption that everyone in it should want to get rich is not well situated to become either ethical or imaginative.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    I bought #2 son a French guernsey from the admirable Arthur Beale, on line. It’s one size too big and that pattern is no longer made so I have undertaken to shrink it one size…
    Surprized it isn't pre-shrunk. Most traditional irish knit sweaters are firmed up in hot water with light agitation.

    I've used the washing machine to full knitted garments. Tried it with alpaca once and it didn't work. The scales on alpaca are too long and smooth.
    A society predicated on the assumption that everyone in it should want to get rich is not well situated to become either ethical or imaginative.

    Photographer of sailing and sailboats
    And other things, too.
    http://www.landsedgephoto.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    Is boiled wool also known as felt?
    ITS CHAOS, BE KIND

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    We used to sell Dachstein Mitts in our stores back in the '70s and '80s. We even had a sample on hand of one before it was boiled and it looked like some sort of tennis racket cover at that size.

    I still have a pair which live inside waxed cowhide shells for snowshoeing and XC skiing. They used to make a sweater, too. The last one I saw was a pullover in red ragg wool with kind of a V-neck and shawl collar. It wasn't quite as thick and dense as the mittens but wasn't too far off.

    Dachsteins.jpg

    You can't see i in this picture, but in real life they tend to have kind of a bluish cast to the wool.
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 12-04-2022 at 06:17 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Carey View Post

    You can still by real boiled wool from Dachstein in Austria:

    https://www.sweaterchalet.com/dachst...s-caps-gloves/

    Nicholas, that is where I bought these mitts. I was looking at the sweaters but they are cost a bit more than I want to spend right now.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post

    I still have a pair which live inside waxed cowhide shells for snowshoeing and XC skiing.

    Dachsteins.jpg

    Todd, I have a pair of leather chopper mitts I use as a cover when it gets really cold. The leather mitts help shed some water as well.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    There's a great description of that in Tim Severin's book "The Brendan Voyage", from observing his Faroe Island crewman.

    The point of dipping it in water is that it cuts the wind better, and it's less slippery on a dry wooden shaft like a tiller. And being wool, it still works thermally, reasonably well.

    But personally, on my winter snowshoe treks in Northern Ontario, I opt for high-quality leather work gloves, unlined, bought too large, used with thin wool liners.

    I also bring a set of extreme-cold overmitts (surplus US Army Arctic shooting gauntlets), but I have rarely pulled them out of the pack.

    Mitts are too clumsy for most camp work. If it's too cold for the gloves in the picture, it's generally too cold for travelling, if you have that option.

    gloves.jpg

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bow View Post
    Is boiled wool also known as felt?
    The process is called felting. So yes, boiled wool is felted wool - either knit or woven, then submerged in hot water and beaten to open up the scales and force them to grasp each other. It can be done, also, without any preliminary conversion to thread i.e. with wool batts or hand carded wool. Most animal fibers will felt as long as they're not hair. Nearly all animals have hair, which is hard, and a downy insulating layer - except humans.
    A society predicated on the assumption that everyone in it should want to get rich is not well situated to become either ethical or imaginative.

    Photographer of sailing and sailboats
    And other things, too.
    http://www.landsedgephoto.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    My eight year old niece wearing my grandmother's hand knitted sweater, which inadvertently went through the wash.
    It was knitted 100 years ago...

    A good fit for the wee lass now!
    Last edited by Canoeyawl; 12-05-2022 at 05:58 PM.

  16. #16
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bow View Post
    Is boiled wool also known as felt?

    No. Felting is a different process that starts with unspun fibers in the form of combed batting. Does get locked together the same way - hot water or steam, mechanical agitation to interlock the finers, and a press to compress them.

    Synthetic felts are a different process that uses needle punching to interlock the fibers.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  17. #17
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    Default

    Austrian Loden [cloth] is made similarly to boiled wool, but starts with a woven, rather than knitted fabric. And the Loden is made before being cut and seamed up into a garment.

    It has the very useful property that it does not fray or ravel when cut or torn.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    I had a pair and they were great, but you really need more to stop the wind.
    "Where you live in the world should not determine whether you live in the world." - Bono

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    My eight year old niece wearing my grandmother's hand knitted sweater, which inadvertently went through the wash.
    It was knitted 100 years ago...

    A good fit for the wee lass now!

    Attachment 124634
    A towheaded Angel in a Cardigan.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    Wet Dachstein mittens are far superior to any leather glove I have come across for XC skiing, and they last much, much longer. I often used polypropylene gloves on the inside of oiled Japara mittens.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    Ran across this; I did not know!

    https://nznaturalclothingshop.co.nz/...lothes-shrink/

    here are the steps to fix it:
    1. Fill your sink or basin with lukewarm water and 1/3 cup of hair conditioner
    2. Pop the jumper in and let it soak for about 10 minutes
    3. Drain the water out of the sink. When the sink is empty, press the jumper against the sides of the sink to rinse the jumper out, but do not wring it.
    4. Put down an absorbent towel, lay the item flat on top of it and lay another towel on top. Press gently to dry the jumper.
    5. Stretch the jumper back into its original shape.
    6. Keep the item lying flat in a very well ventilated area until dry.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Boiled wool

    at once i knew
    i was not magnificent


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