The Felt Belt

Felt is the oldest man-made textile known, predating both knit and woven cloth. Fragments of felt dating back to as early as the Bronze Age have been discovered in Asia by archaeologists. Felt is made by wetting layers of wool with soap and water and agitating the fibers until they form a dense fabric. This new fabric can then be stretched into a variety of different types of items, including shoes, socks, bags, coats, and even shelters. Today, the art of felting is mainly found in the “Felt Belt,” which runs through Central Asia, and is a particular specialty of Nepal.

Our artisan partner in Nepal, Friends Handicrafts, uses the technique of felting to create unique home decor items, brooches, bags, and children’s toys. Friends Handicrafts employs Nepali women and combats urban poverty in Kathmandu by supporting skills-training and income-generation programs for women as well as providing access to education to their children. Check out some of their products below and browse all of Friends Handicrafts’ handmade goods here.

Sujitha Shrestha, an artisan manager with Friends Handicrafts, speaks on how the organization has impacted her life:

My sister introduced me to Friends Handicrafts. I basically manage the work of other artisans. I have become very independent after being associated with Friends Handicrafts. I have gained a lot of confidence and leadership skills. Working here has helped me upgrade my financial status. I am proud to be associated with this company because it focuses on women’s empowerment and upgrading the standard of living of women. It has helped lots of families improve their financial status by training women.”

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