If you are just starting out you may be struggling to figure out where to find the best wool for needle felting and what exactly it is you should be looking for when purchasing wool.
When I first began needle felting I had the advantage of having an entire flock of sheep with wool that worked amazingly well for felting. Not everybody has this advantage however so I would like to give you a few pointers to help you find good quality wool that will make felting fun and easy.
I have had to purchase wool in the past when my small flock of Romney sheep wasn’t big enough to support my growing business. I purchased some Romney wool on ebay and was disappointed in the felting quality. It was nice and clean but didn’t work well for needle felting. It was course and smooth and not like my own Romney at all. Thankfully my flock has grown and we are able to better keep up with demand and have not had to purchase wool for quite some time.
So what should you look for?
Have you been to a craft store looking for wool for felting? What I have found in craft stores is small packages of wool that don’t even say what kind of sheep it is from. It is important when you are needle felting to keep track of what kind of wool you are felting with so you know what type you like the best. I think it is important to know where your wool comes from, who raised it, how it was raised, how it was processed and if it is good for needle felting. Some important things to consider are:
- Not all wool felts the same
- Not all wool from the same breed felts the same
- Some wool roving is processed in such a way it won’t felt at all
- Some wool has annoying unfeltable guard hairs interspersed throughout the roving
Read through my series on Felting through the Sheep Breeds to learn more about the different breeds of sheep and how their wool felts. I have spent an incredible amount of time researching different breeds and felting with their wool so that I can help you find the best wool for felting. This is a work in progress as there are so many breeds of sheep to learn about.
There are some amazing yarn stores out there that are purchasing locally grown wool from small farms that are actually labeled with what they are and where they come from. (sometimes even pictures of the sheep) But these are pretty rare, or at least they are around here. So if you are able to find a store that sells locally sourced wool you have a great advantage. You can actually look closely at the wool and run your fingers through it to test it’s feltability. The roving you find here is mainly for spinning into yarn which is great and will usually work fine for needle felting. Wool roving for spinning is often blended with a variety of different fibers such as silk or nylon so be careful to purchase roving that is not blended and is from one breed of sheep. Also make sure it is not Superwash as this will not felt.
You will want to find wool that has a lot of crimp, in other words you don’t want it to be smooth and straight like hair. The more crimp the better. You will want to feel of it and make sure it is soft and would be something you would enjoy working with. (I have included an entire list of words and their definitions that pertain to shopping for wool in my ebook Needle Felting Basics) Get my ebook Needle Felting Basics for free here.
If possible purchase wool that is from a lamb or young sheep. It is not easy to find wool that is labeled this way, so you may have to ask. Since it is hard to find wool that is labeled this way it is best to deal directly with the person that raised the wool, which leads to my next tip.
If you do not live by a store that sells locally grown fiber you can either go straight to a farm or try to find some online.
If you are shopping online you can google your favorite wool (mine is Romney) and find a farm that sells fiber or shop on Etsy. Either way you will want to look over their website and if you find one that raises their own wool and needle felts you have hit the jackpot. They will be aware of what kind of wool is necessary for needle felting and will be able to answer your questions. Plus you will know by looking over their website if they are a farm that raises sheep responsibly and treats their animals with kindness and respect.
A couple of links to help you find locally grown fiber:
If you would like the opportunity to connect with me personally and learn all that you can about wool and needle felting you will want to check out my Needle Felting Academy.