Particle Hair Settings - fine control

I am attempting to make a very high detail felt cloth. I want the individual strands to be visible. I’m doing this by modelling a thin sheet in the shape of the cloth and emitting hair particles from it. This works well and looks very realistic, but it doesn’t look quite like I want. I’ve been playing with the hair controls and haven’t found a way to do what I want, so I’m checking with the community.

I’d like to emit particles in a random direction perpendicular to the emitter normal and give the hair random/noisy shape in the same plane.

The overall effect would be a large number of threads pressed together into felt. Any ideas how this could be accomplished? Are there existing settings for this type of thing? Or hair be scripted in python?

Thanks for any help you can offer.