Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Project 2: Felt pillow

Using the same techniques as in the felted card, but on a larger scale, I needle felted this pillow (though still have yet to stuff it). I free lanced on the design, knowing I wanted a wild vine in a somewhat circular form overall. There are a few other differences from the felted card- this design has more shading (on the vines) and I used dyed, curly Merino locks to add the yellow curves to the center flower. I have only ever seen these for sale at fiber festivals-they add a bit of fun, and dimension, to your work. The next step is to stitch this into a pillow and stuff it. I probably will not use wool for the backing- it is expensive and pillows need to have one non-wool side, in case the wool feels itchy to you. I will probably use fleece. Hum..I might add a few vines too...
Till next time I'll be needlin' around!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beginner's Project: A Felted Card

This is an easy beginner's project, a needle-felted card. Before you start, be warned that these needles are wickedly sharp and are barbed. It is easy to poke yourself and to poke right though a fingernail into the nail bed below (I know from painful experience). If a needle breaks, it can fling into your eye so be careful. Always carefully discard any broken needles and pieces. (Needle felt at you own risk). This is a not a craft for small children. Move your hand and fingers away from the felting to protect yourself.
First assemble your materials. I used some pre-made card stock, wool fabric and colored, carded wools. You do not need to use a wool fabric for a base. I have used cotton and linen, and you can use other fabrics as well, as long as they are not too densely woven or stiff (your needles may get stuck or break). Cut out the dimension of fabric you want to use- I make the wool top the same size as the card stock, but you can use a smaller piece or a strip to nice effect.
Next, loosely arrange the colored wool on top of the the base fabric, which sits on the needling foam or brush. I made a loose purple heart shape. You can add wool as needed to change the shape of the design.
Next, being needling. Take your needle tool and plunge it right through the colored wool into the base below. Use steady, even stokes and always plunge straight down, perpendicular to your project (this helps prevent needles from breaking). Loosely lock down the wool. You will do a more thorough locking later. Loosely locking it makes it easier to move and reposition the colored wool if you make a mistake or want to change your design.
I usually add several colors of wool for accent...
...and a contrasting border. I now use my light green 5 needle holder to firmly lock down the wool. Glue it to the card and voila!
Till I write again, I'll be needlin' around!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tools of the Trade

I have pictured above some of the tools I use in needle felting- NOT all of them are necessary! The necessary items include needles and holder, some wool and a sponge or pad to work on (your needle should go through your work to properly lock the wool, so you need something underneath to protect the work surface and prevent the needles from breaking). In addition to colored wools, white stuffing wool for three-dimensional objects and a wool batt (felted fabric) you can see:
1. A pink, pen-style needle holder that hold 3 needles. This is the tool I use most often. Needles can be removed for more fine work.
2. Near it, a green and beige needle holder that holds 5 needles. I use this for working larger areas and for locking down final work. (You can get needle holders made of metal or wool, holding more or fewer needles).
3. A somewhat worn needling foam and something that looks like a pale green clothes or shoe brush (the latter near the yellow wool)- these are both used under your work to protect the work surface/needles.
4. Scissors to trim fibers you cannot lock in (I generally pull and tear my wool to get the size piece I want and rarely cut the fibers, unless they are very long) and cut batts, etc.
5. Wooden-handled hand carders- you do not need these unless you get addicted and start buying raw wool to clean and process yourself. I just put then in the photo for fun!
I also included a bag of dyed curly locks (I think they are merino) that are fun to use to add dimension or for doll or animal hair/fur, but are not necessary.
Next time, a beginners project! Until then, I'll be needlin' around!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What is Needle Felting?

Whenever I say "I do needle felting" to friends and acquaintances, even fellow crafters, I most often get a blank stare. "Is that like knitting?" "Oh, that's that crewel thing, right?' "Does it involve sewing?" All guesses, none correct. Needle felting is using a special, sharp barbed needle (or several at a time in a holder) to make designs with colored wool, or to make three-dimensional objects. It takes advantage of a property of wool fibers, that is, to lock together when poked with this special needle. There is another kind of felting, called wet felting, which involves this same locking quality of wool, but is done through the use of water, soap and mild pressure with a felting stone. Felt can also be made solely by pressure and is one of the oldest fabrics know to man....

It all started innocently enough, when my sister in law gave me a piece of felted wool fabric called a batt. I brought the batt to a fiber festival (yes, they exist) and got very quick instructions from a kind, but busy, vendor on how to make a design using colored wool. I bought materials from her and other vendors and my first attempt is pictured above.

What I intend to do with this time-limited blog is to give you some instruction and ideas in needle felting (and, from time to time, other crafts). Some basic skill at drawing is helpful for some projects, but not necessary. It is not a difficult craft, it is lots of fun and it is not expensive. So, till next time, I'll be needlin' around!