Shrinkage – What’s wrong with percentages? Part 1

Now down to business. Anyone who has been at one of my workshops has heard my tirades about this subject. Using percentages to calculate the end result of your felting is wrong. It is wrong – mathematically, logically and importantly feltingly. (Is there such a word? There is now.) When someone says “it shrank by about 30%” could very well be correct BUT you can only calculate that after you have made the felt and NOT before. So instructing, advising or informing someone to just add 30% to the size of their template is WRONG!

For those who are not familiar with shrinkage a little lesson first.

We all know that felt shrinks. The age old question has always been by how much. Well that depends on multiple factors:

the wool – species, micron size, colour, coarseness, fibre length.
the number of layers of wool – odd, even.
what you add to the felt – silk, fabric, decoration etc.
rolling and sanding – which direction, how many times, evenness.
tossing and tumbling – which direction, how many times, evenness.
which way you held your tongue in the corner of your mouth..
I think we’re all getting the picture. There are plenty of things that affect shrinkage. So how can we possibly calculate shrinkage? Make a sample first. This is a pretty good motto for all craft, firstly if you have never made this particular combination of the factors (listed above) before, how do you what’s going to happen? I would rather make a mess of a sample and learn from my mistakes than waste my resources on a larger piece that can not be salvaged and is doomed for the BOYD pile.

Secondly, it is the ONLY way to calculate shrinkage.

So enough ranting for one post, next post will explain the mechanics of calculating shrinkage.

Keep felting! Soosie 🙂

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