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I first heard of needle felting from watching Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas (I love Kirstie Allsopp). At first, it seemed easy, just stab wool over and over again until it resembles something, so I never paid much mind to it.
Then came lockdown. The wonderful Kirstie gave us new crafts to try every day for two weeks on her programme Kirstie: Keep Crafting and Carry On. So, I thought, why not give one of these a go?
You can buy needle felting kits online or in a craft shop (Hobbycraft is excellent). There is a range of skill levels, so naturally, I picked the easiest one in sight – a sausage dog. Although little Cumberland didn’t come out looking the same as the example on the packet, I still think he’s adorable.
I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to continually stab something repeatedly until it looks exactly how you want it. I felt so much calmer after I had finished, so I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who needs to release some stress – and wants to create some tiny fuzzy animals in the process.
Needle felting requires a few specific materials that will come in a kit, or you can order them online:
- It says it in the name – you need a needle. But don’t go raiding your mum’s sewing box, because a needle felting needle has some specific grooves in that allow the fibres of the wool to matt together. They are also much sharper than normal needles (believe me, I’ve stabbed myself enough!).
- Natural wool is used rather than the spun wool used in knitting, as the fibres are not yet bound together. Core wool is used to make the bulk of the project; it is cheaper since it has not been dyed. The colour is then added using roving wool, which has been treated and dyed. You can buy sets of coloured wool, for example, I have a Christmas colour theme, which has some browns, reds, greens, and some sparkly white.
- Something to needle felt on! Please don’t start stabbing a sharp object over and over onto your desk, I can guarantee your landlord won’t be happy. If you buy a kit, it will come with a small rectangle of foam to protect your work surface (I saved my piece of foam from my first kit and still use it), or you can look like a pro and get yourself a needle felting brush, which is basically a scrubbing brush with softer bristles.
I’d say my top tip for needle felting is don’t worry too much how things are looking. Of course, your elephant doesn’t look like an elephant when all you’ve done is made its body! And even if it doesn’t turn out right in the end, you will still have had fun making it. You can start your own family of small, misshapen animals.
So, go forth into the world and create anything from a guinea pig to an elf whilst taking out all your anger on a bit of wool.