Thursday, May 21, 2015

She's Crafty | Needle felting

The last few days I've been taking a sharp, barbed needle and poking it into fluffs of unspun wool. I'm trying my hardest not to poke myself more than once, since it has already happened, but not exactly confident that it won't since the tip of the needle I'm using is so dang sneaky.

I got a needle felting kit as a gift and it will be my first time felting anything with a needle. I've wet-felted knit projects before with soap, water, and my own two mitts, but this will be the first time I poke wool with a sharp instrument to attach wool blobs together. When I'm done I hope to have what resembles a fox and not a unidentifiable mound of tri-color wool. Crossing fingers!

Felt is fun, easy to use and perfect for so many applications. You can find felt in the classroom, at story time, in quick and easy crafts, in the toy box, on your person, on your head...

Sheets of craft felt.

Yes, this fedora is made of wool felt.

Although there are a million-and-one interesting things to do and make with felt, this post will focus primarily on needle felting. My first introduction to needle felting happened while flipping through the September 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine. An article titled, "Felt So Good," talked about the ease of adding embellishments to various wool items with some wool roving (unspun wool) or wool yarn and a felting needle. My favorite part of the article at the time was about adding some pizazz to wool scarves with stripes created with wool yarn.

LEFT Wool scarves with wool yarn stripes.
TOP RIGHT Purple Roving by melanoma.
BOTTOM RIGHT 9. Finished Yarn! by onepinkhippo.

A single felting needle is a thin metal spike with diagonal groves cut into the needle to create barbs. When poked into wool, these barbs encourage natural hair fibers like wool with scales to mesh. This process is used to attach one natural fiber item, like wool yarn, to another natural fiber item, like a wool scarf, needing only to poke the materials with the needle felter and getting fibers from both items to tangle together.

LEFT Close up of felting needle barbs. RIGHT Scales on wool fibers.

Other than adding embellishments, needle felting is also perfect for making 3D sculptures and dolls. As well as wearable felt accessories.

29/4.2001 - day brighteners. Photo by julochka. Some Rights Reserved.
Notice the bottom left piece ringed in wood. That is a miniature felt landscape!

Earrings. Photo by polosatova. Some Rights Reserved
Day one.
Although I'm using a kit for my first needle-felting project to make a fox doll, you don't need a kit to needle felt yourself a furry friend, but they are handy if you've never tried it and don't have the tools yet. My kit came with two small needles, three rounds of wool, and a handy instructions card. I'm following the directions and so far I have two off-white, bumpy cylinders that need to be attached together to form the basic fox body.

One tube is supposed to be smaller than the other, and it kinda happened that way. One is more compact than the other. There are bumpy patches here and there and parts that look like they been poked with a sharp needle repeatedly and other parts that look smooth even though they have been poked repeatedly too. So, I just keep poking and learning the behavior of the material. It's my first go at this and I'm suspending judgement. My aim is to just have fun and learn. Luckily, the Mountain House branch has Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts. Fuzzy Felted Friends, which I'm hoping will teach me the ways of smoother felting.

Fuzzy Felted Friends is full of kyuuto* crafts!
*Kyuuto roughly means cute in Japanese.

So far I have poked my self THREE TIMES. Once, even drawing blood. Evidence that you will get carried away and it's not a matter of if you will poke yourself but when. Unless you head the warnings and cautions that come frequently with needle felting supplies and books and use a needle mat or a piece of foam.You might need to hold your project in your hands at times to get at hard-to-reach details, just be careful.

A great example of needle felting the safe way. The tool pictured even
keeps the wily needles from ever contacting your delicate fingertips.
Day two.
Sure enough, Fuzzy Felted Friends has some really helpful tips on dealing with pokey holes that won't disappear and how to address lumpy bumpiness. I'm having a blast and if I get a chance, this fox will probably be done today or tomorrow...

...I'll share the result in my next post along with more felt fun. So, stay tuned!

Before I depart, let me share a few resources that are great for the needle-felting novice.

First, the following blog post: Needle Felting 101: History, Wool, Tools by Laura Lee Burch, which you can find at Laura's Blog.

SSJCPL books with information about needle felting:
Needle Felting books from Link+:
The list is long. So, click here for the list of Link+ results.

Enjoy and see you next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment