Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Felting Without Cruelty-Ethically Produced Fleece Fibres for Needle Felters & Felt Makers

Animal welfare is extremely important to me, and as a needle felter, I owe it to my animal friends to only use ethically produced, cruelty free wool. Finding it however was another matter! Back when I first started needle felting and I didn't know any different, I did use Merino wool, and now I literally shudder at the thought. (there are lots of links about Merino wool and animal welfare on the net and some links below) But when I found out about it, I stopped using it and I would never use it again.

I decided the best way to find the ethically produced fibre that I needed was to try and source it locally. Luckily I found it and I now have a few people who raise their animals well, in excellent conditions and the animals are not raised for consumption. If you want to find ethically produced fibre it helps if you live in a rural area and you can ask around locally, but if you don't, it's a case of contacting farms as close to where you live as is possible. It's a lot of research but worth it when you find what you're looking for! It's just a shame that ethically produced wool is not widely available. This is something that needs to be addressed.

However, one UK farm are making a difference. Newmoor Barn The Ethical Fibre Company, based on the borders of Devon and Cornwall are committed to producing and selling cruelty free fibres.They supply ethical wool tops and wool batts as well as raw and washed fleece for felting, spinning and fibre art needs.

Here is a fantastic information sheet produced by Newmoor Barn, titled 'Know your Fibre' NB the photos that accompany the article are all of beautiful fleece that can be purchased from Newmoor Barn. There are lots more for sale on their website too at

Know Your Fibre By Amanda Braggins of Newmoor Barn Imagine a world where fibre artists can have access to a fabulous range of natural animal fibres and textures in a wide array of beautiful colours but be able to have the piece of mind that the animals that supplied the fibre have been treated with care and respect. It’s very easy for an artist to get caught up in the wealth of colour and textures begging to be purchased to create beautiful fibre and textile art with little thought into what happens in growing and processing these raw materials as we use them to create our beautiful and wonderful creations.

 We are constantly being encouraged to consider where other important items in our life come from. Air miles on Fruit and Veg, human exploitation issues on cheap clothing and animal welfare in the provision of meat and eggs, not to mention the oil industry. But why as artists are we not considering these same issues when it comes to our fibre? The last time you purchased fleece did you know where the fibre came from? The animal? The farm? Or even the country it came from? Can you be sure the animal was treated with care and respect? Do you think your art would look the same if you knew it hadn’t? Lured bythe bright colours wonderful textures or the cheap price? In the current economical climate we are all on the lookout for bargains and deals in all areas of our life but surely we have a duty to make sure that when we do get a bargain it’s not at the expense of another human beings or an animals freedom, happiness or safety.

 At Newmoor barn we raise a herd of happy Angora goats. Using their mohair to produce a range of art and crafts products and we know that raising happy healthy animals takes time, dedication and money and produces a superior product. We also source and buy a variety of fleece from local farmers to wash, dye and card to sell to artists. We buy direct from small local farms so that we can inspect each individual fleece and know the animal it came from, pay a fair price, and ensure we only buy fleece where we can see the animals are treated with care and respect.

We process our fibres by hand on our small farm, no factories full of machinery and underpaid workers here, (just us, smiling!)But its not all dome and gloom. There are ethical supliers out there. These natural fibres also tend to be of a higher quality as they come from animals with freedom to roam allowing good nutrition. These fleeces are often processed on an individual basis rather than being thrown in with other fleece. If a farmer has thousands of sheep can they really keep on top of issues such as foot rot, fly strike, lice, worms? This often leads to cruel practices such as mulesing in the merino population. Are we prepared to let an animal suffer just so we can have that particular look? You are spending time making wonderful pieces that you have designed and handcrafted and don’t wanted it tainted by the oppression and neglect of the animals, the farmers, people who process it, or the planet.

Know where your fibre comes from and care where your fibre comes from and the next time you pass a field of sheep give them a nod and thank them for their fibre. For more information on animal welfare issues surrounding the fibre industry you can check out our website at

Merino wool information links:
A Link to PETA
Blog from  frankandfaith - The Truth behind Merino Wool
A Link to PETA

Beautiful items created with ethically produced fleece from Newmoor Barn....

Dark Woods Felted Wall Hanging, Felt Picture made with ethical fleece
Earth Tones Mohair Shoulder Bag made with our own vegetarian mohair
Flowers Pink and Purple made with ethical fleece
Some of the residents at Newmoor Barn. Living the good life! :)
goats climbing trees
Barry The Angora Goat Kid
Angora Goats enjoying the evening sun


  1. This post is thought provoking and informative, but on a lighter note, I love the last 3 photos!

  2. thx for sharing. i live in hk n i can only use acrylic fibre produced by a japanese company. i do want to felt wool but i will never do so if it is not cruelty free.