Loopgram: Basics of Needle felting

Carrie Martin taught me the basics of needle felting last weekend. It is how I created the Bon Bons Valentine 10 by 10. I needlefelted five hearts, which I then attached to the linen foundation and hooked around. I was surprised how simple needlefelting is, and how much I enjoyed the process. Wool is cool whatever shape or form it takes. It is the superior fabric.

Wool consists of fibers, so when friction is applied and the fibers rub back and forth against each other the fibers begin to "tack" or stick together. So if we add water and detergent and motion to wool, we end up with felt. Or consider spinning, the heat of our hands and the twirling of the fibers causes the wool fibers to cohere and yarn is created.

With needle felting, the cohesion of the fibers is created by the up and down motion of a barbed needle held between the thumb and the index finger. Jumping the needle up and down through the fibers causes them to felt.

What do you need to try this? A needlefelting needle, a block of foam, bits of roving, and yarn for embellishments.

1. Start with a bit of roving. Lay it on the foam in a rough shape of the object you intend to felt. In this case I want to felt a rug hook. With the needle between your thumb and index finger plunge it up and down over the roving. Keep going back and forth over the roving until it begins to felt. Rest the side of your hand on the foam to steady the needle and to keep your fingers out of the way of the needle. You want to avoid stabbing yourself! So keep your free hand well out of the range of the plunging needle.

2. Add bits of roving here and there to develop the shape and dimension you want. Here I am adding a lighter color roving on the top to begin to create a light-shadow dimension on the handle. Then I am adding a yellow on the top to create the shank. Plunge the needle up and down as you add new pieces of roving. Go right through all the layers of the roving you are building.

3. Add bits of yarn for embellishments. Lay the yarn where you want the embellishment to start. Plunge the needle through the yarn and the roving underneath. Lay down the yarn and plunge as you go. Go back in and add more roving as desired, plunging the needle through the entire thickness.

4. Eventually you will be done and have an exquisite needle felted piece to add to your rug or to make into a pin or attach to a bag. If you want to attach the felt piece to your foundation and hook around it, cut a piece of scrap wool the shape of your felted piece. Hand sew the scrap wool on your foundation. Place the felted pieced over top of the scrap wool and needlefelt it onto the linen by plunging the needle down through the felt piece, scrap wool and linen foundation. Once it is attached, you are ready to hook around it. If you want to attach it to a wool bag, just needle felt the piece directly onto the wool, plunging the needle through the felt piece and the wool bag.