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I got a bunch of wool sweaters at Goodwill today to make pants out of.
I washed and dried them all on hot - some came out teeny tiny and felted thick as a dime and others came out almost the same as they went in - a little smaller, a slightly denser weave, but not toddler sized! They all said they were 100% wool. Anyone know why some didn't felt as well as others?
 

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I bet someone else who felts sweaters regularly (Kendell?) has more ideas, but two things immediately come to mind:

1. 100% wool can mean superwash wool, which will not shrink much if it all in the washer or dryer.

2. Even a 100% wool machine-produced sweater may not felt much because the machine process might have dried out the wool hairs and consequently reduced the spaces between them, which means there is no more shrinking possible.

My understanding about why and how wool felts is pretty basic, but I think wool fets in two ways: 1) the heat actually reduces the size of the wool hairs (and makes them more brittle as well, reducing their natural moisture and lanolin, which helps plump them up; and 2) the heat reduces the natural space between the wool hairs (which helps trap moisture when used as a diaper cover).

HTH,
Karla
Also, unless there is a manufacturer's tag that says 100% wool, the sweater may have some nylon content that would reduce shrinkage as well.
 
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