I’m often curious about the origins of things – especially those that touch my world of needle felting! So today, we’ll take a trip back in time and ground you in the origins of the craft and how it came to be used for detailed sculptures like our animal creatures!
The Origins of Needle Felting
Felt from wool is considered to be the oldest known textile. Legend relates that nomadic people used to stuff their sandals with wool to prevent blisters and that by the end of their journey, the sweat and moisture felted it. Wet felting was born.
Needle felting is the process of interlocking wool fibers by “stabbing” it with a barbed needle. The barbs catch the scales on the fiber and cause them to tangle and bind together.
Of course, here at Bear Creek, we are about dry felting or needle felting as it relates to using a needle to achieve the desired results. Japanese culture made the “kawaii” style of needle felting popular and to felt in this way simply means to make the object cute and playful. Here we focus more on creating realistic 3-dimensional animals.
A Bit About Wool
European civilizations have been spinning and weaving wool since 10,000 B.C., and many believe that sheep were domesticated right after the dog to serve man. Britain is credited with advancing the wool industry as long ago as 1900 B.C.
British sheep farmers did much to develop the breeds we have today, carefully selecting for coat and hardiness, eventually settling into three main groups: short-wool and down; longwool and luster; and mountain and hill.
Today, of course, the breeds continue to evolve, and those of us who own sheep, choose our favorites based on the role the sheep play in our lives. We now have a registered flock of Romney Sheep and it’s a good story about how sheep and needle felting came to change my life forever. I’m proud to say that all of our kits feature wool from my own farm.
Our Bear Creek Needle Felting Academy continues the tradition by introducing new lovers of wool and needle felting to the latest techniques and tools. Join us to get started or to take your craft to a new level!