Needle Felting, an introduction

What is needle felting?

Needle felting is an exciting and therapeutic pastime. Many people around the world have found this ancient craft to be versatile, amazing, frustrating and joyful all at the same time. The basic principle is sculpting wool of various types and characteristics to form 2 or 3 dimensional objects. Some even turn out to look like they are supposed to!

Would you like to learn to needle felt?

Join us on a craft workshop in Leicestershire to see how easy needle felting is. You’ll be introduced to the range of materials and tools needed to get started on this great fibre craft. First, you’ll learn the very basics of needle felting, from the different types of wool, needles and pads. Then you’ll discover how to turn wool into a basic 3D shape, felt flat pieces and embellish your creation.

Do I need to be an artist?

While there are some fantastic talented artists creating felt wonders there’s always space in the felting world for your artistic designs and interpretation. You do not have to be particularly creative as you can purchase needle felting kits. As you learn more, you can freestyle and experiment with your own sculpting prowess.

Where did needle felting originate?

Felt made with water and friction is one of the oldest textiles, thousands of years old. It predates woven, knitted or other cloths. Needle felting is a more recent invention from the early 20th Century, but it still builds on ancient techniques to create fabric or other objects using friction. There are many cultures which claim the origin of felting. Why not do a little time travel yourself and see what you come up with?

Feeling confused by the different names for felting wool?

You’re not alone. When the sheep has been shorn, its fleece undergoes a number of processes before you get your hands on it to make your wonderful creations.

Raw & Unwashed This is the state of the fleece straight from the sheep and it will feel greasy at this stage as it still contains the natural lanolin. Lanoline is a great hand moisturiser but not so great to handle. Depending where the sheep has been roaming you may also find some free hedgerow and other delightful natural products!.

Batts or Carded  The raw fleece is washed, teased out with a stiff brush then carded into sheets. This makes all the fibres go in different directions and appear matted. This is a great wool for rolling into shapes.

Core Wool This is the wool that you would use as a core to make 3D projects. It is not as pretty as the other wools but is a good base to put under your tops.

Locks & Curls Fleece from some sheep may look and feel like they have had a trip to the hairdressers. The texture may be tight ringlets or bouncy locks. These curls may come from a Blue Faced Leicester or a Cotswold – there are many beautifully styled sheep to spot.

Tops or Roving  This is the wool that you will probably lust after. The wool comes in a rope like length which you can split into thinner strips. The most widely available tops or roving in the UK is merino and comes in a beautiful array of colours. You can also often find dyed Corriedale and Shetland, plus a number of other breeds in their natural shades.

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