A Little Introduction to Needle Felting

Needle felting involves using a fine, barbed needle, which is very sharp. 

 

Small, barbs on the tip of the needle grab onto the scales of the wool fibres and tangle them together.  Repeated stabbing will shrink, firm and sculpt the wool into your 3D needle felted figure.

There are several different types of felting needles - our favourite needle is a 38 twisted star, which is a good all-round workhorse. 

You can needle felt with many types of fibre – sheep’s wool, animal fur, plant fibre and synthetic fibre.  The easiest medium to work with is wool from sheep, although not all sheep’s wool will work the same.  Fine wool takes a lot longer to sculpt but results in a soft, silky texture.  Coarser wool felts faster as the notches on the needle will grab on to the scales of the fibre easier, but it gives a rougher finish.  It really depends on the finish you want to achieve. 

Top Tips

  • Always use a foam or wool pad to work on.  Stabbing onto a hard surface will break your needle.

  • Your stabbing motion should be short.  Your needle should hardly pierce the foam under your work lifting the needle too high out of your sculpture will give more room for pricked fingers!

  •  Always take your needle out at the same angle it went in.  If you change the angle of your needle when it is still in the wool it will be liable to break.

  • Aim for firm, but not rock hard.  Your work should spring back when squeezed.  Heads need to be slightly firmer as they will have details added.

  • Keep turning your work.  If you continually work in one place you will develop dimples – unless that’s what you are aiming for.

  • Roll, wrap or knot as tightly as you can.  This will result in less time stabbing to get a nice firm finish.

  • When rolling, wrapping, or knotting, hold the wool near to where you are working.  If you hold the wool at the end it may pull apart.

  • When positioning legs, ears, eyes etc. it can help to pin them in position first.  We also use pins with black round heads to help get the position of the eyes right.

  • Be patient – this is not a fast craft.  Using small amounts of wool rather than big chunks will be easier and will result in a better finish.  Take your time, enjoy the ride and remember the tortoise and the hare!

  • Have fun!  Everyone’s sculpture will be different so don’t fret if yours doesn’t look the same as one made by someone else – or even one you made before.

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