The History of Boiled Wool (Walk)
The method of fulling is a long tradition and known in many areas of the world. The eldest findings stem from the time around 6.500 before Christ and were found in Turkey. In the Altai Mountains in Sibiria, clothes made from boiled wool were found in graves that stem from the 7th century before Christ. They were preserved by the cold and ice and were able to keep their colors and still are in a good condition.
Also in the Alps, the method of wool felting is known since more than 2.000 years. People used the wool of sheep, goats and other wild animals as material to produce socks, cloaks, and other clothes. Warriors even covered their shields with Walk fabrics. Especially rangers and hunters count on equipment from felt because it enabled them to move noiselessly on the hunt.
At around 1350, knitted wool was the first time basis for Walk fabrics. Walk-Jackets are still very popular and especially worn in the alpine regions of Europe.
The production of fabris has a long tradition in our company. While we started out with other products in 1926, the industrial manufacturing of walk fabrics began in 1952. In the course of the years we refined and improved our technique and are now able to produce the most premium fabrics.
The Fulling Process at Gottstein
The best way to describe walking/fulling is with water, warmth and friction. The english saying for "walk" is boiled wool and it perfectly describes the process. The wool felts when the temperature exceeds 35°C and is thereby kneaded and pressed. Thereby the structure changes and the material gets thicker while the size decreases depending on the processing time by 20% to 60%. This is because air is enclosed in between the single fibers. Apart from the shrinkage in size, the process has an additional effect: The fabric becomes 8 to 20 times more resistant than the initial material.
In our company we produce Walk fabrics in the following way:
- We source final spun and colored yarn from leading yarn manufacturers in Europe where we order twine thicknesses from thick (8/1) to very thine (60/2).
- We process the yarn on a circular knitting machine to a knitted tube.
- After the knitting we loosen the knitted tube and bring it into a huge industrial washing machine. Every knitted wool has a different washing recipe which is performed with computer assistance. Usually, the process takes 30 to 40 minutes at a temperature of about 35°C.
- After the fulling process the felted tube is cut open.
- The fabric goes through a dryer and is fixed on a ironing machine.
- Every walk fabric is being inspected and controlled strictly before we leave the company.
Gottstein fabrics are natural combined with the latest computersteered production technology. The raw material is pure new wool and crystal clear spring water from the alpine mountains. The raw material is processed mechanically under the impact of heat. We do not add any chemicals or fabric softeners. Through the support of modern technology, we were able to reduce the energy and water demand by 60%.
The pure new wool for our fabrics stems from merino sheep. Their wool is chosen in a rigid process and it is carefully washed and cleaned. The cleaning happens when the wool is dry again after the washing by combing the fibers. This makes the wool especially soft and sleek.
- pure new wool is a perfect natural product
- due to the natural crimp, wool cannot adhere. Air inclusions guarantee a high thermal protection.
- Wool is highly elastic
- The softness of the wool enables a high comfort at wearing
- Wool is very absorbtive and can absorb moisture up to one third of its weight without feeling wet
- Walk fabric is very long lasting
- Walk fabric is more or less crease-free.
- Boiled wool does not charge electrically or magnetically.
- The fabric is dirt repellent and can be washed at 30°C.
- The material is biologically decomposable