Fun with Fiber: Needle Felting

My needle felted notions bags, in progress.

A note from Kathleen: I was recently presented with a large bag of different colored bits of fleece. A friend's mother-in-law passed away and she was a fiber artist. I was the lucky recipient of her loose fleece-what a wonderful gift!

Lots of people would wonder what to do with all of these random bits of fiber, but not I! I love needle felting, and now I have supplies galore. I'm working on a series of felted notions bags; two of them are pictured at right. I hope the previous owner of all of this beautiful fiber would approve.

My friend Cate Prato is the editor of Cloth Paper Scissors Today, and she loves needle felting, too. Here's a guest blog from Cate, about needle felting, naturally.

"The Fish" by Olga Snyder

Hand Felted Beauty

We certainly received an enthusiastic response to the Felted Wonders reader challenge we ran this past summer (results in the November/December 2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine).

Felting is an ancient art, and it takes no time at alland very few materialsto learn how to felt using the wet or hand needle felting methods.

Hand needle felting, in particular, requires a very small investment of time and money. Hand needle-felting supplies consist of loose fibers, L-shaped needles (they are very sharp and have barbs at the business end), base felt (anything from felt balls to craft felt sheets to a felted piece of knitting), and a piece of thick foam for felting into.

Here's some information on hand felting, adapted from Kelli Perkins's article in the July/August 2008 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.

Hand Felting Basics

Basic needle felting supplies

1. Determine what kind of image you want to create on the front of your card. Start with larger, less complex shapes and work towards more intricate designs as you gain experience. A simple heart or flower is a nice beginning.

2. Place a pre-cut felt base on the felting foam.

3. Pull a small tuft of roving and fold or roll it into a loose ball roughly the size of the image you want to create. Lay it on the felt and poke the needle into it a few times to secure it to the foam.

4. From that point, poke the needle into the roving repeatedly until it begins to form a bond with the base. Be extra careful to know where your fingers are in relation to the needle at all times. After poking for a while, pick the base up from the foam and move it to another position. You'll see that the roving has migrated to the back of the felt base.

Note: It is only necessary to push the needle into the foam ½" or less.

5. Continue poking the roving, tucking and folding the edges over with the needle as you go to form the image you are trying to create.

"Artichoke in Bloom"
by Peggy J. Schadler

6. Once you've outlined the basic form, select small tufts of different colors and place them on top of the already felted area, then felt over them again to meld them into the picture. You can create highlights and shading with various shades of wool or silk. Go ahead and mix different kinds of roving and even lengths of fun fibers and yarns. Many things will felt up nicely.

—Kelli Perkins

Hand needle felting is great for small felting projects like jewelry, artist trading cards, and embellishments like on Kathleen's notions bags.

There are many projects and ideas for felting in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. I know it's one of Kathleen's favorite magazines, and I think you'll enjoy it, too. Expand your crafty horizons and subscribe to Cloth Paper Scissors!

Happy New Year!

P.S. Have you done any needle felting? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

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