A Beginners Guide to Needle Felting

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I have just recently started to do needle felting as I am off work on long-term sickness due to having MS and needed something to fill the days.  I personally am unable to felt for long periods of time but I really do enjoy it when I can and its really rewarding when you see the fabulous creations you can make.

Needle felting requires the use of a very sharp, barbed felting needle which is used to matt wool fibres together. The tiny barbs near the tip of the needle only work in one direction, which is as the needle is pushed down into the fibres. The tiny barbs then hook onto the fibres and pull them down, interlocking them.  Repeated stabbing of the fibres with the felting needle will result in the felt becoming  firm to the touch.  By gradually adding more fibre and shaping it you will see that it soon turns into detailed three-dimensional shapes, for example, animals, hearts, flowers etc. I like to use cookie cutters to shape the fibres and make my creations.  At the moment I find this the easiest way to make a recognisable shape! haha You can also felt onto pipe cleaners to make a shape with moveable legs / arms etc too.

I have made lots of different coloured hearts and put them onto wooden skewers and put them into an old fashioned milk bottle which is a different take on flowers in a vase.  They look absolutely gorgeous and will last a lot longer then flowers.  I have them in various colours to match my furnishings.

The basic tools required for needle felting are:
a felting needle
a surface to work on (I like to use a felting pad which you can get from hobbycraft or ebay etc)
wool fibres (also called roving.  I use an online shop that I found on Facebook but you can also buy it on ebay too. I prefer not to use Merino wool as I find that all of the needle marks are visible. Totally personal choice though and you can just use whatever you find best)
There are loads of videos to be found on YouTube which are really helpful too.
 
Felting needles are available in a range of sizes.  Each of them has a different function but the 3 most commonly used sizes (or gauges) are:

36-gauge - a strong, coarse needle, ideal for coarse fibres. You can use this to felt quickly but as I mentioned above, this will leave visible holes in finer fibres (such as Merino).
38-gauge - a medium, general-purpose needle (I use this one mostly)
40-gauge - a fine needle which is ideal for adding fine detail or for finishing. Great as it leaves no visible holes.

I prefer to buy a needle which has a handle as I find that the wider top makes it easier to hold.

I really love needle-felting and I am sure you will too. Thank you for reading my guide.  Enjoy xxx
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