From Wool to Wonderful: Needle Felting

Felting knitting is so magical. It's amazing how the knitting tightens and turns into a dense fabric. There are different sorts of felting, though. Today, I'm going to talk about needle felting.

It's one of my favorite fiber crafts; I love taking tufts of wool roving and turning them into embellishments or even felted creatures. My knitting group did some needle felting over the holidays—I made the ladybug at right. It was so fun.

My felted ladybug. So cute!
A tiny, felted Cavalier

But check out the tiny (less than an inch tall!), perfect replica of my Cavalier, Daisy. Is it not the most precious thing you've ever seen? I think so. I bought it from an amazingly talented felting artist on Etsy. I fell in love as soon as I opened the package.

In her new DVD, Needle felting Animals, Sharon Costello shares her needlefelting expertise, guiding us through the process of needle felting. Sharon started felting over twenty-four years ago and she's still discovering new applications for this magical craft. She made the beautiful beagles, shown below right.

With just a little wool, a felting needle, and a few simple supplies, you can create soft sculpted animals that will warm your heart and, before you know it, fill your home! Get started by creating this adorable miniature beagle.

Felted beagles, made by Sharon Costello

Tips on Needle felting

—Felting needles are sharp! Neither the wool nor the needles are sterile, so use care while working. If you should jab yourself, stop and wash the puncture immediately.

—Light, gentle needling will do the job. In fact, if your piece seems to show a lot of holes on the surface, it's probably because you are jabbing the wool too deeply or using too coarse a needle for the type of wool.

—Try to avoid using sideways pushing or prying motions with the felting needle. Felting needles are very hard and durable but also quite brittle, and they will break easily with any sideways pressure.

Tips on Working with Wool

—While almost any kind of wool (even superwash) can be used for needle felting, you will get the best results when using fiber that has been prepared as batts or roving. Avoid using combed top as it is more difficult to get the fibers to tangle together when they are all combed in the same direction. Use a medium to coarse wool for the body and fine wool for the facial details for best results.

Look at the detail in this felted beagle's face!

—The key to successful needle felting is in rolling the wool into tight forms. Making complex shapes is simply a matter of making simple shapes (like balls, cones, triangles) and needling them together.

—Always roll the fiber in the direction that it has been carded. Roll on a rough surface, such as your foam pad or pant leg. Try to keep the wool strips flat and under even tension as you roll a shape. Remember to needle each strip of fiber (with the foam underneath) thoroughly after you have rolled your shape and before adding a new strip.

—When dividing the fiber, pull it into long lengths in the direction the wool has been carded. It will be easier to roll the fiber into the shape you want if you are working with long, narrow pieces of fiber rather than short, wide pieces.

~Sharon Costello, from Needle Felting Animals

Check out Sharon's Needle Felting Animals DVD and learn how to make your own felted creations. It's so much fun!


P.S. Have you done some needlefelting? Share your tips with us!

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