Saturday, August 15, 2009

Needle Felting

I love wool in all its forms: freshly shorn, washed and carded, dyed and spun into yarn. And I love all of the things that it can be made into. I once saw a book cover made from a plain piece of wool and some carded fleece. I thought it was beautiful and I wanted to learn how it was done. The person who made the book cover told me the process was called needle felting. While searching on the internet to find the materials I needed, I happened to meet a lovely woman in the UK who makes and sells plant-dyed carded fleece.

Isn't this gorgeous? Not only did I get beautiful wool, I made a friend as well.

So here's the little project I've been working on. I started with a scrap from an old wool cape, and I drew a freeform flower design on it. Using a needle especially made for needle felting, I take a small piece of the fleece and lay it on the spot I want to fill in. Then I stab at it repeatedly with the needle until it fills in the area I'm working on, like coloring with fibre. The stabbing causes the raw fleece to knot up in the wool, so it stays put.

Caution! Needle felting needles are long and very sharp. You hold the fleece down with one hand and the stab with the needle using the other. Should you miss and poke your finger, the less disciplined person might find themselves shouting something unladylike...ahem.

Now when I have seen pieces of this type, people display the fuzzy side as their finished side. But I don't care for the fuzzy look, so I use the back as the front. To me it looks like tapestry. When this is finished, I plan to make a small pillow with it.


Anonymous said...

Very pretty, Jodi. It does remind me of tapestry and looks like crewel embroidery.
Can felting be used to decorate sweaters/wool clothing as crewel would? Does it hold up to wear pretty well? I like the fact that you can add the wool to the wool fabric by pushing it into place instead of having to think about a variety of stitches. Have you ever done crewel? Do yo think felting is less technical?
Joan Drennen

Jodi said...

Hi Joan,

I don't know if it would work on sweaters or wool clothing, but I would try it to see. Yes it does wear well. I have done crewel and I love it. This is definitely easier than crewel, at least in my estimation. There are many different forms of needle felting. What I am doing is very basic, but I imagine that some things could be quite complicated. I just picked something easy and tried not to stab myself :) I'd be happy to show you how to do sometime.

imchosen4worship said...

Interesting how, for us, creating beauty always involves risk.

imchosen4worship said...

Incidentally, when I first read the title of this entry, I saw it as "Needing Felt" because my musical brain had to make sense of the strange combination of words!

megan!lee said...

until very recently i used the wallet that you needle felted {??} for me. i loved it, and then you know of course i lose it along with everything in it. it was sad. im gonna try and do this so i have another one, although if you know, you wanted to like..make me one...that'd be a cool birthday present, too...*cough cough*


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