Have you ever wanted to work with fiber without the restrictions of knitting needles, crochet hooks, or looms? Then needle felting is for you! Needle felting let’s you shape wool like you would clay, but since the wool doesn’t stick to itself on it own, we use a barbed needle to make it adhere to itself. As the needle goes in and out of the wool, the barbs catch the fibers and intertwine them.
Note: Never bend or twist a felting needle as you are working, as this can cause the needle to break. Always keep the needle straight as you insert it into your wool.
Needle felters can make flat images or 3-D forms. In the following tutorial, you’ll learn the basics of 3-D needle felting.
Wool Roving (unspun wool)
Extra paper or a magazine to protect your work surface from inadvertent pokes
1. To show contrast, we will use two different colors of roving to make a simple ball. You can do the same with one color of roving. Roving adheres to itself best when the fibers are running perpendicular to each other, so we will form a central ball from black roving, and then wrap that ball with green roving.
2. Take a strip of black roving and roll it up on itself. Set the roll on your sponge and insert your felting needle into the wool from the top and the sides (about 15 times). Note how the wool begins to hold together.
*You do not want to let your needle embed deeply in the sponge. This will cause the wool to adhere to the sponge. Instead, consider the sponge to be a soft “landing pad” for the tip of your needle.
2. Set the fuzzy muddle of black wool on top of a wide but thin strip of green roving. (Set aside a third of the green roving to use in the last step of this tutorial).
3. Pinch the black roving and wrap the green roving up and around it. Pinch the ends of the green roving together and fold them over on themselves.
3. Insert the felting needle into the folded down ends of the green roving. Do this 20 times in different places until the ends stay down without you holding them.
4. Once the ends stay down, begin turning the ball of wool and inserting the felting needle from all sides.
5. If you continually insert the needle into one side of the wool, you will end up with a pancake instead of a ball–so keep that ball rolling!
6. After 5-10 minutes of felting, you will have a rough ball of wool. If you squish it between your fingers, it will flatten. To make a smooth, firm ball, we’ll have to keep felting.
7. After another 5-10 minutes of felting, your ball should be looking much more round. There should only be a little bit of give when you pinch it with your fingers.
8. If you used two colors, you’ll probably notice that you can see some of the inner wool peaking through the surface of the ball. You’ll also see pock-marks from the needle. To smooth our ball out, we will wrap the last layer of green wool around the ball and pull it smooth and tight with our fingers.
9. Felt the outer lay of green wool to the ball. Keep your needle insertions shallow. Your risk of breaking a needle will be higher at this point. Be sure not to bend or twist the needle as you poke it in to the wool and pull it back out.
Now that you know the basics of 3-D needle felting, why not take your skills to the next level?Check out my kits and tutorials at the Catching Eddies Etsy Shop!
To read more about the tutorials, click on the photos below!