Needle-Felting – Another Beautiful Use for Fiber
When most people think of wool, they generally think roving (if you’re a spinner), or yarn, (if you’re a knitter or crocheter), but there is another side of fiber, another use, that has been slowly growing in popularity, and today, has attracted quite the following. What is it you ask? Needle-felting.
If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone, but for those of us who have, it’s opened an entirely new arena in the fiber arts world. As a matter of fact, up until about five years ago, I’d never really heard of it. Now, needle-felted art makes up almost half of my finished product line.
I began making needle-felted Christmas ornaments using dryer balls and needle-felting design on them and then continued on with making shaped ornaments using dyed wool and cookie-cutters. Once I had my own sheep and their wool. I began needle-felting sheep ornaments and named them after their wool’s namesake. From there I went on to needle-felt whimsical sheep lockets, magnets, soap, snowmen, Easter eggs, and journal covers. Then, last year I began “painting with wool,” which combines needle-felting and steam-wet-felting for finishing to create unique and one-of-a-kind art pieces. Now, I have felting kits, teach classes in needle-felting all over the country, and provide private parties (think “sip & paint”) for smaller groups who want to get together and create.
So, what exactly is needle-felting and how do you do it? Well, here’s the “sciency” stuff about it, described in my “non-sciency” terms. Wool has scales. If you placed a single wool strand under a microscope, you’d be able to see them. Some people will describe them as “barbs” sticking out, but really, they’re called scales.
If you look at a felting needle up close, it has small indentation along the side of it, they are similar to the scales in the wool, combined with a very sharp tip. So, when you press the needle into the wool it causes the wool to become compact and felt. The more you poke the needle into the wool, the more air and oxygen is removed, and the wool becomes harder and firmer taking on shapes and designs.
You can use this technique to create designs, shapes, and yes, even flat, 2-D artwork. The possibilities are almost endless. To get an idea of the various needle felting applications, you can do a Google search or find groups on social media. One of my favorite groups on Facebook is called The Fiber Art Village. Talk about talent and variety! I highly recommend checking it out.
If you would like to know more about needle-felting or have ay questions, please feel free to reach out. If you would like to check out my available felting kits for purchase, schedule a private class of your own or with a group of friends, please visit my website at www.goldieknotsmt.com. If you already needle-felt, I would love to see some of your work too! If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?