Winter Woolens: Needle Felting

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Over the Christmas holidays, I gave my six-year-old daughter a very sharp needle and encouraged her to jab it into a pile of wool. I also gave her some safety advice, sage wisdom such as “Don’t try to watch the television and do this at the same time, dear.”

She was learning how to needle felt.

Since my daughter was born, I’ve become more and more interested in the art of soft wool sculpture, also known as needle felting. This type of crafting is completely my style. It doesn’t require a pattern, although you could use a pattern if you wanted to do so. It’s very forgiving. You can shape and reshape the objects that you make, and you can simply pull the wool out if you make a mistake. Needle felting is also versatile. You can add wool to an old sweater to make it new again, or you can place it inside an acorn top to make sweet little felted acorns. Most importantly, it involves jabbing a pointy object into a pile of wool over and over – very important for stress relief.

How do you needle felt?

It’s quite simple. Take a batch of carded, clean wool. It’s often sheep’s wool, but it can be hair from other animals as well. Using a felting needle, move the needle in and out of the wool. The needle has a barb that draws the wool together gradually. If you’d like to make a ball, make a soft ball out of the wool, then gradually shape it into a smaller, harder mass using the needle. If you’d like to add wool decorations to an existing felted object, arrange the strands of wool in the general vicinity of the place where you want them, and gradually felt them into the other object, arranging them as you go. If the felting is off, pull it out and begin again.

I must admit that it was with a lot of trepidation that I handed over the needles to my daughter. The needles used in felting are rather sharp, and they hurt when they hit your fingers. However, she made three toy balls for the cats for Christmas and came through relatively unscathed. And she was so proud, too!

Have you tried needle felting? Would you do it with your kids?

Image Credit: [e-eva-a]

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