Needle felting is an amazing activity fit for people from all walks of life, and it’s clear to see why. There’s nothing quite like sitting down for a relaxing afternoon of crafting. Whether you’re just getting started or have a few projects under your belt, you might discover something new after checking out this list!
1. Felt is versatile!
Our community enjoys wool for our crafts and creations, but the truth is, felt is a robust material used in everything from car engines to roofing insulation. If you’ve ever played the drums or piano, you’ve probably noticed functional felt pieces as they contrast against the wooden materials of the instruments.
While industrial felt might have its place in the underbellies of our cars and homes, I think needle felters put this material to just as good a use…wouldn’t you agree?
2. There Are Two Basic Types of Felting: Wet & Dry.
Dry felting is a relatively new technique most commonly used amongst crafters. However, wet felting happens to many of us…even if it’s not our intention. Have you ever accidentally thrown your wool sweater in the washing machine without checking the care tag? All it takes is a little bit of soap, water, and friction, and boom—your favorite sweater is now a doll accessory!
3. Wet Felters Were First.
Pre-dating knitting, weaving, and spinning, the first known felters were tangling fibers in 6300 BC! As one of the oldest fiber crafts, these wet felters created household items such as rugs and tents, as well as practical accessories such as hats and footwear. These early developers were able to understand wool’s natural ability to shrink and matt under friction, moisture, and heat.
4. Dry Needle Felting is Relatively New!
It’s amazing to think that the dry needle felting we love to take part in today was only created in the early 1980s! Artists, David and Eleanor Stanwood, bought a sampling machine for needle punching and began creating needle felting projects by hand. The rest, as they say, is history!
5. Sheep Farmers Have Their Own Lingo.
You may have a hard time finding quality felting materials at your local craft store. The best option is to purchase wool from the source, but you’ll have to know a few terms when contacting a sheep farmer.
Do you know the difference between ordering a raw fleece and wool roving? Purchasing a raw fleece means you’ll receive unprocessed, sheared wool. This requires you to thoroughly wash the raw materials yourself.
If you buy your wool carded (roving), this means the wool has been washed and processed through a carding machine. And while visiting the local craft store might be easier, there’s something so special about supporting sheep farmers and going straight to the source!
6. There’s A Whole World of Wool & Sheep Varieties.
Whether we realize it or not, wool is an essential material in our lives. And while your Merino wool sweater sure feels cozy, this might not be the ideal wool for your next needle felting project.
Different types of sheep yield different types of wool. From Bershaft to Shetland, and Romney to Lincoln, there’s a wild variety of wools available, but you have to be particular about how fine or coarse you want your materials to be.
7. Needles Also Matter.
There’s a whole range of felting needles, and finding the appropriate size for your project is absolutely key. If you want to shape and attach pieces together, a 38 Gauge Triangle would be the ideal choice. However, if you want to blend colors or use special hair in your felted piece, a reverse needle is what you’re looking for! Different types of wool also require different sizes of needles depending on their texture. Before you start a project, take some time to make sure you have the proper tools for each piece of your work.
8. Safety First!
We’ve all seen the classic TV scene where a few women are gathered around the television in the retirement home as they talk, watch TV, nibble on cookies, and knit or crochet at the same time.
While this sort of setting sounds idyllic, in needle felting, you should never look away from your project! Needles used for felting are extremely sharp, and you should never do any punching without watching where the needle is going. The last thing you want to do is stab your finger!
Have you been bitten by the crafting bug but don’t know how to get started? From sourcing the right kind of wool to creating detailed and sturdy designs, after joining my needle felting academy, you’ll have all the tools and information you need to succeed. The Bear Creek Needle Felting Academy offers continued support and direction, plus valuable feedback from me. We’d love for you to join our community!