Felts are known to be the oldest floor covering that was made by mankind. There is a famous story told by the felt makers of Semnan, narrating that Soleiman the prophet had a son who was a shepherd. He wanted to make a textile from the wool of his sheep. He tried so hard only to fail. In despair and anger, he beat the wool by fist while he wept over them. His tears poured on the wool, and intertwined them together. And that is how the first felt was made.
Felt is a kind of textile that is made without the use of loom. It is not knitted, but is created based on two basics. First, moisture and second applying pressure. In the process of making felts, the water is poured over layers of used materials while they are being compressed, causing the fibers to hook together into a single piece of fabric. The most commonly used material of felts are sheep wool that is sheared in spring time. It has long fibers and comes in different colors.
A piece of felt can be made in one day of work which is a reason why this product is not very expensive. However it is a very exhausting process. To create a felt, the maker first lays pieces of colored wool on Karbas, a kind of fabric which is also used for painting canvases, according to the final design. Then layers of combed wool is arranged on top. The Karbas is rolled together, holding the layers of wool. The felt maker begins rubbing and pressing the roll while applying hot water. This is done repeatedly and step by step.
Felts are mainly floor coverings. But they are also used to make other tools, such as Korsi (a low table with heater underneath it in Iran) cover, horse cover, kitchen utensils, dolls and clothes. Patterns and designs of felts are commonly created by abstract motifs inspired by nature. Some examples are Chahar Goosh-e Khorshidi, a symbol of the Sun, paisley, or diamonds. Today, felt making is practiced in cities such as Semnan, and Shahroud.