Craft your own seasonal happy space with a needle felted pumpkin or two, or three, or fill the whole house (as I do) with these glorious DIY projects that will take us into autumn/fall and beyond.
Make pumpkins with personality using carded wool or wool tops
Scroll down for video tutorials
I am a firm believer that pumpkins are absolutely not just for Halloween and I have you covered with three pumpkin tutorials that will take you right through September to December and Christmas. Yes, of course there’s a Christmas pumpkin!
If you are nervous about starting needle felting then this is the project for you!
Not only are they fabulous needle felting project but, they are also one of the quickest and easiest needle felting projects to make, taking a mere 30 minutes! They will add instant impact to any room, and are impressive seasonal gifts for friends and loved ones and, If the weather permits, they look wonderful on an outside dining table or strung as a garland from a tree or deck.
Keep it simple or go for all out bling and glamour. Go traditional or opt for a style that the cast of Frozen would be envious of. Whatever your style, there really is a needle felted pumpkin for everyone and no needle felting experience necessary; just a few needle felting supplies and a big dollop of enthusiasm.
There are three video tutorials to choose from – traditional, fire and ice and winter wonderland – and you could have all three made in just 90 minutes!
I have popped a materials list above each one but these are just suggestions and anything goes. Don’t worry if you haven’t any carded wool as there is also a tutorial using wool tops. See I told you I have you covered!
Happy creating and I would love to see your pumpkin photos to add to the community gallery. You can email them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to me via my FaceBook page.
Do you need wool or supplies?
Links for kits, wool and needles are also below or SHOP WEBSITE
Hi and welcome to my ultimate guide to needle felting.
I’m Sandy, creator, owner, designer, chief cook and bottle washer at Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts.
Since 2014 I have taught thousands of people to needle felt through my tutorials, videos, workshops and extensive range of inspiring needle felting kits. Whether you are a nervous beginner or a confident crafter, you will discover a wealth of needle felting guides and resources at your creative fingertips. Let’s craft a happy space together!
SO, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO START NEEDLE FELTING?
Not much at all as it happens and you don’t have to spend a lot of money either! It’s a budget friendly hobby that requires very little space and zero experience and all you need is:
1 FELTING WOOL
2 FELTING NEEDLE
3 FELTING MAT
4 GOOD TUTORIALS
Wool tops or carded wool are both great to needle felt with. Avoid Merino wool tops and go for a coarser wool like Jacob, Shetland or Romney.
CLICK HERE FOR MY ULTIMATE WOOL GUIDE AND QUICK LOOK, HANDY CHART
Just one or two standard felting needles will get you started. I like to use a 38 star as a good all-rounder.
Ignore all the fancy needle felting creations you see online and start with a simple needle felting project or tutorial. It is so important to allow yourself to be a beginner and build up to those fancy creations you have been drooling over.
When it comes to needle felting enthusiasm goes a long, long way! It’s all you need to get started; you don’t need to be artistic, just enthusiastic. Allow yourself to be a beginner and you will pick up the needle felting basics in no time. You may prefer to start with a needle felting kit , especially if you don’t have any equipment. It is a budget friendly way to get started and allows you to see if you enjoy this fabulous craft without ending up with lots of equipment.
Helping you create perfectly shaped, firm needle felted projects that a more experienced needle felter would be proud of!
Your ears have pricked up now, haven’t they? Well, I have used ALL the needle felting tools over the years and I still end up using just a handful on a regular basis. However, a few years ago I discovered the magic of the humble BBQ skewer and it changed the way I needle felted?
Now, to some of you this will be old news but to many, especially those new to needle felting, it will become a revelation! A needle felting epiphany of sorts, and you will wonder how you ever managed without it, even though it was sat in your kitchen draw the whole time. Even better, total cost, only a few pence or cents, assuming you bought them as a multi-pack.
The BBQ skewer is, to needle felters what string is to farmers and, once discovered, you will use it as your go to felting tool. It will give you the confidence to try new styles that you may be finding tricky with your current technique. You can also use any wool, be it carded or wool tops.
For instance, the legs , head and body of this fabulous hare (link for tutorial below) have all been made around a BBQ skewer, and not a wire in sight! And, believe me, those legs are long! Wherever possible I like to work without wire so this works well for me. Even when I use wire for animals it is usually just for the legs, and maybe the neck. That said, if you are working much bigger then you will find using wires really helps form and stability.
What this magical wooden stick allows you to do is to create perfect symmetry for your legs in super fast time. They end up really firm so no floppy, saggy legs (not a good look) and no need for wire. Making firm, perfectly shaped heads is a dream and lengthening and tapering the body shape is a breeze.
From hedgehog noses to Christmas trees, gnomes, mushrooms, cactus, bumble bees and bunnies… the list of things you can create is endless, and even the snail shell was made around the skewer. Mind boggled yet?
Now go and dig out your BBQ skewers and have some needle felting fun. If you can’t find them they will probably be at the bottom of your kitchen drawer, covered in a sticky substance of unknown origin 🤢
Become a VIP Felt Club member! It’s free and you will receive a free needle felting pattern, lifetime discount code, exclusive early access to new product launches and promotions, as well as notification of new tutorials and live needle felting workshops!
I love this time of year in my garden and my 17 year old Cordyline is flowering for the very first time. I am so thrilled and the smell is divine; like Jasmine with a hint of caramel. As plants, and the garden, are on my mind I have put together these super cool cacti; a perfect pin cushion for your felting needles and a plant that will never show any signs of temperamental behaviour, or just die for no apparent reason???
As always, I spend a lot of time during the design process, creating projects I know you will love, sharing the techniques I have learned over the last eight years, whilst carefully choosing the wool and fibres to suit the finished piece. I think I made six cacti before I was happy with the finished design. This means that you can get stuck in (if you pardon the pun) to your new projects with confidence, knowing that you have great materials and instructions to work with, every time.
If you already have all the gear then the video tutorial will be available from the 1st July so look out for a new post (next week) with the links. Pattern is also available for download on the websiteHERE
PRE-ORDER NEEDLE FELTING KIT FOR THE FIRST WEEK IN JULY
You can choose your colour, and each fibre pack makes two cacti, comes with full printed instructions, two terracotta pots and, if you are gifting it to someone, you can the add needles and mat.
JULY LIVE WORKSHOP The video tutorial will be on YouTube but I also plan to go live with this on Facebook towards the end of July so keep a look out for an email with the details.
Mini Bunny needle felting video tutorial – for even the most nervous beginners. With supporting printable pattern download on the website.
This is the easiest of easiest needle felting projects, only takes around 30-40 minutes and is just a whole heap of relaxing fun. Whether you are a nervous first time needle felter/crafter, just want to have some relaxing creative fun or want to fill the house with gorgeous handmade bunny decorations, this is a great project. The process and technique for this pattern is really easy and straightforward. Your secret weapon is the BBQ stick you will be using which makes creating the body shape so much easier and super fast. It really is the needle felting tool you never knew you needed but was in your kitchen drawer all the time.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed making these because cute and cartoony normally isn’t my thing. But, it seems I am a cute and colourful convert just because of how relaxing it was and, there’s no denying, those pastel colours are pretty lush. Even as a seasoned needle felter it is incredibly satisfying to complete something quickly and easily, knowing what the end result will be, and then repeating the process again. I was completely focused and really just felted away in quiet contemplation. There is something immensely calming about creating simple projects and repeating a task – part of the human psyche I guess – so much so that I ended up making four of them and will be making more for an Easter garland.
YOU WILL NEED:
Needle felting wool – Approx. 5g, any type or colour.
Standard felting needle – size 38 is a good all-rounder.
Wooden BBQ skewer (or similar) for shaping
Click HERE for the downloadable pattern at a special price of just £1.50.
See the full range of needle felting kits, punch needle kits, accessories and handmade items over at the WEBSITE
Meet the family. Well, some of them…
Over 40 carefully and lovingly designed needle felting kits to choose from. Each kit is a complete starter kit and so, contains everything you need including detailed instructions, lots of colour photographs, an actual size template as your size guide, quality wool (mostly British) and everything you need to complete each project. Kits are suitable for absolute beginners and advanced beginners.
No sewing. No wires. No glue. No stuffing. Open the box and get started… All you need to add is a little patience and enthusiasm!
There is an array of felting mat options out there so I have put together a video tutorial (below) showing you my favourite mats and best practice for using them. If you are using different felting techniques then you, like me, will probably use a combination of two or three; there is no one size fits every project.
I have also just invested in some Eco needle felting mats which can be used on their own, on top of your foam pad or hessian mat. They are fabulously thick 100% wool felt made here in the UK and the feedback has been great! I love mine and use it all the time now.
If you use it on top of your foam mat you will rarely, if ever need to replace your foam block. They are completely biodegradable but honestly, it will be a long time before they need replacing.
Hessian rice mats are particularly useful for needle felting pictures or any other flat felting, like big hare ears, flowers, gnome hats, wings etc. It also works brilliantly with the 7 needle multi tool which will have you powering through your flat needle felting projects.
MAKE YOUR OWN HESSIAN RICE MAT
You can easily make your own mat from a piece hessian filled with dried rice or similar. I used an old hessian shopping bag for my first one. Just make sure the weave is quite tight otherwise it won’t last long at all and always use a piece of felt on the top to protect the surface. This will easily 10 x the life of your rice mat.
1 Cut out twice the size of the area you want to work on
3 Sew up all four sides, leaving a two inch gap to fill with rice.
3 Fill with dried rice or similar
4 Sew up the gap securley
5 Slap a bit of felt on top and you are good to go!
Hope this helps and remember, there is no right or wrong choice. Much of it is personal preference and the type of needle felting project you are working on.
If you like to see it done just scroll to bottom for video tutorial!
I was a couple of years into needle felting before I tried a reverse felting needle and now I wouldn’t be without it. The special effects you can create are endless and super cool, taking your needle felting to a different level. A reverse needle does exactly what it says and instead of felting and compressing the wool it pulls the already felted wool back out, creating dramatic, or subtle effects. It adds instant character to a project and is simple and easy to use.
I love the subtle effect it created on top of the head of the head of this moon gazing hare, giving it a dreamy fuzziness.
I use two sizes of needle; 32 and 40 gauge. As with standard felting needles, the higher the number the finer the needle and the more subtle the effect.
I have used the size 32 most recently (although a size 40 would have done the job just as well), on my bee brooches to create the fuzzy body and eyebrows. I also used a contrasting white core for more effect and visibility.
When I made this brooch the eyes looked a little lost so I used the reverse needle just above the eyebrow to pull out some of the core white wool.
I repeated on the other eye then trimmed it back. As you can see, the effect is great and those eyes really pop!
I wanted to create a similar effect all over the body to create that lovely fuzzy effect. Repeatedly use the reverse needle until you have pulled all the lovely wool through then trim quite short to create a neat finish that allows the white and dark to compliment each other.
When I decided to needle felt my first pig I really wanted to create the coarse top layer you see on a lot of pigs that sits on the peachy skin. I used a Romanov wool core but any coarse dark will do; grey Jacob is perfect and one of my favourites. It created exactly the look I was aiming for using a 32 reverse needle.
There’s no limit to what you can use it on and I think the hedgehogs were crying out for a reverse felting needle makeover. I know you can get the realistic spikes but this was much more fun. I created a grey Jacob core with a brown Shetland carded top and went at it quite fiercely with a 32 reverse needle. You can watch the full hedgehog tutorial HERE
See how I have picked up the grey I pulled through plus a little of the brown. Give it a twizzle for instant spikiness and a gorgeous ‘Prickle’ of hedgehogs; yes that is the actual collective noun for a group of hedgehogs. My heart… 🦔
So, there you have it. Just a few of the cool things you can do with a reverse felting needle. Experiment on your own projects and just have some fun with it. Happy felting!
SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR VIDEO TUTORIAL
The wool bundle to create this gorgeous garland can be purchased on the LFC website: SHOP HERE
Temperatures are below freezing, the days are still short, we can’t go out anywhere, the shops are shut… but hey, the heating’s on, there’s food in the cupboard, my dog is there for constant cuddles and we have crafts for company. That’ll do me for now.
In an effort to bring some colour into our lives I am stuck on pretty pastels and all things spring at the moment and it doesn’t get more pastel or spring like than this gorgeous Easter garland. It is also a great way to use up any scraps of wool you have in your felt box and, if you have needle felted before, there are always plenty of scraps in your felt box.
So here I am with a little golden nugget of a needle felting tip for almost perfectly firm and round needle felted balls; use a wooden BBQ stick. I have been using one for ages to create even, smooth shapes and discovered – after trying many other techniques – that using said stick is by far the fastest and easiest way to make perfectly shaped felted balls, in just 3 to 4 minutes! Who knew?
This gorgeous garland is so easy to make and, teamed with the needle felted bumble bees (also a breeze to make), you have yourself a beautiful piece of spring décor to brighten even the most dullest of days. The bees also make a great brooch, or pin.
1 Small length of wool top or carded wool; mine are approximately 1g (20cm long) but you can make them bigger. Just make sure they weigh approximately the same so your felt balls are all a similar size; unless you prefer odd shaped balls…
2 Felting needle; a size 38 or 36 is best as they are sturdy and less likely to break on the stick
3 Soft felting surface; foam mat, rice filled hessian bag or a piece of flat felt
4 Sewing needle and strong thread to create your garland
Let’s get going!
SCROLL TO THE END IF YOU LOVE A VIDEO TUTORIAL!
1 Select your first piece of wool.
2 Twizzle the end of the wool in your fingers to slightly matt it.
3 Wrap the end firmly around your wooden skewer
4 Continue to wrap the wool around the stick (no need to use your needle yet) and use your thumb and finger to stop it from moving down the stick and becoming too long.
5 Continue until all the wool is wrapped around the stick. TOP TIP:It should be firmly wrapped but also springy to the touch. If it is too firm it will be harder to shape.
6 Start to shape by poking your needle gently into the ends of the wool – avoiding the stick – at a diagonal angle so the needle doesn’t bend. TOP TIP: Keep moving the stick around with your free hand so the shape is even and there are no flattened areas.
7 Repeat for the other end and continue to shape the entire ball until it is quite firm. It won’t be perfectly round yet but that doesn’t matter.
8 Slide off the pointy end of the stick.
9 Continue to firm and shape with your needle. This will also close the hole created by the wooden stick.
10 Finally, roll the ball firmly in your cupped hands (for a few seconds) to create an even round shape and smooth finish.
Once you have enough for your garland string them together with strong cotton. If you are adding bumble bees make sure you push the needle and cotton through the upper part of the bee as they are top heavy and will be upside down when you hang it. Also, it took me longer than I care to admit to work that out. 😳
Hope you enjoyed this and just subscribe at the bottom of the page for instant blog notifications and up-dates. Happy creating 🐝
Each video tutorial breaks down every step of needle felting your animals into simple body shapes and can easily be can be adapted for whatever animal you are making. They are perfect for beginners, improvers or anyone wanting some creative respite and I have created each video to guide you step by step – workshop style – on your creative journey, sharing my top tips to make it even quicker and easier.
Everything you need to know is covered, from needle felting your basic body shape at the start to putting it all together, in simple bite size chunks that will give you the confidence to continue with this fabulously addictive craft.
If you are working from one of my NEEDLE FELTING KITS just follow the written instructions alongside the video tutorials.
Needle felting animal eyes: The devil really is in the detail and once you know the little tricks to make them pop, and give them some dimension, it really is super easy! Here’s a helpful tip to get you going…
Give your projects more dimension by raising the eyebrow. Just add a seed shape of wool above the eye and gently felt into place. The results can be subtle or dramatic; either way it is so simple and adds a great finish to the eye.
As you can see with the fox eyebrows, I have blended lighter and slightly darker colours. This stops them from disappearing into the face and also photographs so much better. Just try different styles and see what works for you.
Whilst I can’t call this a definitive guide to felting wool, it is based on my years of experience, using a huge range of wool and techniques and is quite extensive; you can find out more about me and my handmade business on the ABOUT page. I have put a lot of my time and knowledge into creating it and hope it answers most of your questions, making your needle felting journey a little easier. Also, at the bottom of this post you will find my list of useful links and tutorials on this blog, plus a few recommended books. In addition to that (I know , I’m spoiling you) I have created a needle felting wool guide in table form which you won’t want to miss. If there is something you want to ask please feel free to leave a comment or email me at: email@example.com
It’s All About The Wool
Not all needle felting wool is created equal and for anyone new to needle felting it can be frustratingly confusing. However, all you need is one or two good needle felting wools in your craft box to create a multitude of wonderful needle felting projects. This guide will take away all the painful confusion so you can get started instead of ruminating for hours over which wool is best for needle felting. I have kept it simple and tried to answer the most frequently asked questions. At the bottom of the post you will find my easy guide to wool and my personal favourites. You will see a lot of British wool on the list because, well I live in Britain so it makes sense to use what we have around us. If any shops or books are mentioned it is because I love their products and I highly recommend them. I am not affiliated to them in any way.
Let’s get stuck in!
Did you know?
Worldwide, it is estimated there are 1000 distinct sheep breeds and around 60 of those are in Britain alone, more than anywhere else in the world. No wonder it’s confusing! Read about the history of British wool HERE
Can all wool be needle felted?
Short answer is no but most wool can be wet felted, or incorporated into wet felting. You will find my handy guide to needle felting wool at the bottom of this page.
Hands up if you’re confused about core wool?
Core wool means different things to different people and that is where most of the confusion lies. Put simply, it just means what you use for the centre or bulk of your project and it can be any medium/coarse wool. If your top layer is going to be a different colour or you are using a fine wool; Merino Corriedale or similar. Core wool can be used to needle felt your basic shape and then covered with dyed wool. However, for many projects, it isn’t necessary and if I am making a hare or a sheep then the whole thing will be made from natural Jacob, Shetland or Swaledale tops which is coarse and felts really easily. I will then add a few finishing touches and detail with a different colour wool, un-dyed where possible as I like the earthy, natural finish. Where a different core wool is really useful is when you are creating life sized animals, or using a more expensive dyed wool as your top colour for birds, realistic animals, Christmas baubles, fruit, dragons, Easter eggs, gnome hats etc. These types of projects would be much easier to needle felt with a core of coarse wool and then covered with a top layer of bright Shetland, Corriedale or Merino.
Do I need Core Wool?
Short answer is no. Core just means the inside of your project and, because most of my critters are small (usually no bigger than 15-20cm), I just use the same wool inside and out. It’s much less of a faff and it stops the wool, from the different colour core, poking through the top layer. My preference is natural, medium to coarse wool top (sometimes called roving) for most of my animal projects and needle felting kits and I usually encourage new felters to do the same, especially if they are going for a firm shape. For example, if I am making a grey hare or grey sheep then I will use my grey Jacob wool top (or similar) throughout only adding different wool for surface detail and contrast. Core wool is best used for realistic dogs, cats or other animals; for finer top coat of Corriedale or Merino where a different colour or blend of colours is required. Also, larger pieces such as life size hares or other animals would be more cost effective with a cheap core wool to build the bulk of your project. Shetland carded batts are a good option or a loose core. Visit tutorialHERE or watch the short VIDEO TUTORIAL
Core wool for stuffing and wrapping
There is actually another type of core wool that is that is used almost like a toy stuffing, made up of shorter, lumpy wool fibres. It is perfect for soft sculpture and bigger rounder shapes and is ideal for wrapping wool batting around to create pumpkins, garden bases , mushroom tops, bee hives and all manner of soft sculpture where you want a particular look. They can be created in no time, are super simple and really effective. It can also be used for spinning and wrapping around a wire frame, although carded slivers may work better for some armature projects.
‘Shroom houses with a soft core garden base and roof. House is natural white Jacob top which needed to be much firmer.
WATCH VIDEO TUTORIAL; working with soft core wool.
Life size Snowshoe Hare has a soft core of Shetland carded wool batts.
What is best, wool top or carded wool?
There is no right or wrong answer and it all depends on the wool you are using , what you are making and personal preference. The biggest problem is that a lot of people start their needle felting journey with Merino wool which is just not suitable. It’s is too fine, doesn’t felt easily and makes the whole project hard work – more on Merino below – then, thinking that all wool tops are the same they will change to carded wool (also great for needle felting), or give up on needle felting altogether, which makes me very sad.
Wool tops (AKA roving)
A coarse wool top ( sometimes called roving) is a joy to work with, felts up quickly and easily and is really cost effective. I use it for almost all of my needle felted animals and in the majority of my needle felting kits. I have been doing this for nearly seven years and have yet to find anything better for my needs. My HANDY GUIDE TO WOOL TOPS is further down the page.
Grey Jacob and Shetland Moorit both give a beautiful earthy, natural finish to needle felted animals and no need for a separate core wool.
Carded wool and carded slivers
Carded wool is also great for needle felting and carded slivers (long legths) are ideal for working around a wire frame where the finished project tends to be much softer. Carded wool sheets (batting) are also perfect for wrapping around a core base to create lovely soft sculpture like the fox and mouse shown below, pumpkins, gnomes and larger life size pieces. However, I don’t use full wire frames very much and favour wool tops for most of my projects. The fox and mouse below were both created using a wire frame (armature) using carded batting sheets. Mouse is grey Jacob batting and fox is my own blend of Corriedale batting and wool top.
Pumpkins made using a lumpy core wool and covered with carded batting sheets. Traditional and Winter Wonderland Pumpkin needle felting kits are on the WEBSITE
It’s only nine minutes long and explains the different types of wool (including core wool) and how I like to use them.
What is the difference between wool tops and carded wool?
Same wool, different processes. Wool tops are made in long lengths (usually around the thickness of your wrist), quite dense with the fibres brushed in the same direction. Carded wool fibres are much shorter and brushed in lots of different directions, resulting in a much loftier wool. Click HERE for the wool shop.
Is Merino any good for needle felting?
Not for three dimensional projects or anything with a lot of bulk that needs to be firmly felted. Merino is a beautiful wool, when used for the right application – especially wet felting, top coats, long animal fur and pictures – but I have lost count of new felters that have contacted me asking why their needle felting project isn’t felting properly or is full of needle marks and is taking an age to shape. I can almost guarantee that they are using Merino or have started with a needle felting kit that uses Merino. It saddens me when this happens because it is really disheartening to start a new craft, often with much trepidation, and not be able to complete it. It stops many new would be crafters in their tracks because they think their lack of know how is to blame. Such a confidence shaker and definitely a case of ‘It’s not you it’s the wool’ and I am at a bit of a loss as to why Merino is used in many needle felting kits?
I am often asked about Merino and the practice of mulesing. My advice is to check that any Merino you purchase is from a country that doesn’t practice sheep mulesing; a horrible and painful practice used to control fly strike. The fly species that harms sheep only exists in Australia and New Zealand so Merino from non-mulesed sheep is easy to get hold of. Notably South America, South Africa and Spain. My rule is if a supplier doesn’t know where their Merino is from then I don’t buy from them.
Curly locks can be used for almost any project, to add texture and interest. Teesdale and Wensleydale are really popular and come in a raft of colours. You can also make your own out of knitting yarn and I have created a short video HERE on how to create your own. I must admit I am a bit of a curly locks hoarder and I like to open the drawers and just admire my stash; I know I’m not the only one who does this… There are lots of fabulous lock sellers online and I have popped a few of my faves below. Or, why not make your own with simple wool yarn. Click HERE for video tutorial.
If you want to create needle felted (or wet felted) pictures then pre-felt is the perfect base. Pre-felt is partially felted sheets of wool which are lightly carded and felted. It is stretchy and pliable and makes a great base for wet felted and needle felted pictures, allowing you to lay out and layer all your fibres on the top before wet felting or needle felting. You can make your own by wet felting a couple of layers of wool top or carded wool but is is also available to purchase online. My favourite is natural Shetland pre-felt which I add to my picture needle felting kits and use for my own projects. You can find it in my wool shop.
Angora and Alpaca
Too fine for bulky needle felting but, like Merino, good for blending with a coarser wool for different textures, wet felting and top coats.
What’s the best wool for long animal fur
Anything that works, including Merino. My Herdwick sheep, naturally have a long coat of Herdwick but for dogs and cats Merino and Corriedale is good. I spray mine with hairspray to keep everything in place. Some say it can discolour white wool, over time, but I have never found it to be an issue. CLICK FOR TUTORIAL
Sustainable and ethical wool
It makes sense, wherever possible, to buy local or from the country you are in. The carbon foot print is reduced, you are supporting your community and the economy, and traceability is much easier. Much of our wool is from animals that are used for their wool and meat but that doesn’t mean that they are not cared for and, for the overwhelming majority of farmers, animal welfare is a top priority. We do live in an imperfect world so there will always be rotten apples in the barrel. All my wool suppliers are British, family run businesses (some large some small) and I have never had a question on traceability or ethical farming go unanswered.
Where does British wool fit into ethical and sustainable?
In global terms, UK sheep farms are small, having on average approximately 350 sheep. UK sheep are raised naturally outdoors on pasture. As a result, the scale and method of UK lamb production is such that it is not considered an ‘intensive’ farming activity by animal welfare campaigning bodies.
Sheep are required to be shorn of their wool once a year for their own comfort and health. Hence, wool is a naturally occurring by-product. Every year British Wool puts over 800 people in all parts of the UK through our two day shearing training courses that are tailored to their existing level of experience and skill. It goes without saying that shearing in accordance with best practice industry standards ensures that the process is stress free for the animal (as well as maximising the value of producers’ wool). Please visit our Shearing pages for further information.
If you want to inject some colour into your projects then Shetland and Corriedale (a Merino Lincoln cross) are my favourites but there is a huge range available and lately I have been looking for natural plant dyed wool which is not an easy task. These two dyed wools are ideal for any project that needs colour, be it landscapes, brightly coloured Christmas decorations or a vibrant topcoat. You can also blend colours to create different effects using your hands or a blending brush. If you don’t have wool blending brushes, dog slicker brushes work really well. Dyed wool and bundles are available HERE
Can I use plant fibres for 3 dimensional needle felting?
You can but it’s a struggle and a chore and the result isn’t nearly as good as wool. Plant fibres, like bamboo, don’t felt well because the fibres are much smoother, whereas wool has tiny scales that interlock when rubbed, agitated or compressed with a felting needle. A few years ago I put together a test ‘vegetarian’ needle felting kit, using only plant fibres, bamboo mostly. I then sent them out to a few customers for testing and each said that it was really difficult to work with and the end result was quite poor. Although plant fibres alone may not needle felt well they are still lovely to use for many other projects, especially when mixed with wool or added to finished wool projects. Bamboo, and especially silk tops add a lovely luxurious texture, contrast and sheen to your project. I use a lot of silk in needle felted pictures, on pumpkins and gnome beards and hats.
Can I buy vegetarian wool?
You can and availability is increasing. Vegetarian wool, also called slaughter free wool, means that the when the animal dies it is not sent to slaughter and does not end up in the food chain. I love the organic, vegetarian wool from the Doulton Border Leicester flock. It is a lovely coarse British breed wool that felts beautifully. Ellie refers to them as ‘sheep that live to grow old’ and even has a seperate area for her OAP sheep. You can find her on ETSY or via her WEBSITE and she also sells the most gorgeous vegetarian knitting yarn. I use Ellie’s wool in my VEGETARIAN NEEDLE FELTING KIT
Can wool be over felted?
Definitely. The more you needle felt the more you are breaking down the wool fibres. If you over felt, by repeatedly poking the wool in the same spot for too long, the fibres will eventually break down and start to go soft. If this happens it is best to start again with fresh wool.
What do I need to start needle felting?
Only four things are needed and you are good to go;
Good quality wool
Felting needle; size 38 or 36 to start with. Both are good all rounders. European needles are the best.
Soft but firm felting base of either foam, wool or a hessian bag filled with rice.
At a glance – My needle felting wool guide in a handy chart
This chart is so useful and if you are ever unsure whether a wool is suitable for needle felting then just look at the micron count. This is the measurement used to determine how fine or coarse the wool is. The lower the micron number the finer the wool. For example: Jacob is 33-35 microns – coarse and perfect for needle felting. Whereas Merino is 23 microns, fine and not so good. Most of my animal needle felting kits use Jacob, Shetland or Swaledale. Of course, as you become more confident, you will develop your own preferences and the best way is to try a few yourself. Here are some of the most popular (although not exclusively) in a handy chart.
My favourites are marked with *
GOOD FOR NEEDLE FELTING
Yes. Earthy finish
Yes – slightly wiry finish
North West England
Yes – very wiry finish
Corriedale (Merino and Lincoln cross)
OK – needs more work. Good for topcoats, pictures, wet felting and blending.
No – best blended with coarser wool. Good for topcoats, pictures, wet felting and blending.
White* Faced Woodland
Yes – Smooth finish. Quite slippery.
Blue Faced Leicester
Somewhat – smooth finish. More visible needle marks.
Yes – smooth finish
Isle Of Man
Yes – smooth finish
How do I know what wool top I am using?
If you are new to needle felting and handling wool you probably won’t be able to tell. It’s easy for me as I have been handling wool for a long time and can even name some of the sheep breeds by running the wool through my hands. If you are finding it difficult to needle felt, and it feels smooth and silky, the chances are it is a Merino or other fine wool with a low micron count.
And Finally…almost. Don’t miss the really useful stuff below!
This is just a guide to impart some of the knowledge I have gained over the last seven years but I hope it helps you in your felting journey. Just experiment and have fun because there really is no right and wrong. Many people start with a needle felting kit which usually has everything you need to complete your first project. Just try not to start with one that uses Merino as it will make the learning curve harder. All my felting kits, wool and accessories are available on the LFC website HERE
There is no denying that Autumn is my absolute favourite time of year. I have just enough time to pause and take a deep breath before the busy season is upon me. In fact, my Autumn mode usually starts at the beginning of August, when you can just about smell the change of season. So, what better way to kick off the season than with a perfect pumpkin project. It is so easy and you can go from wool to pumpkin in just 30 relaxing minutes.
Scroll down for the video tutorial.
YOU WILL NEED: 15g core wool for a medium sized pumpkin: approx 15cm. 10/15g wool batting sheet or wool top in any colour you like. Contrasting wool colour: For pumpkin lines. OPTIONAL: Embellishments: Wool locks, silk fibres, discarded jewellery, lace, ribbon etc
I promise that pumpkins are one of the easiest things to needle felt so, even if you are the most nervous of beginners, I have every confidence of your pumpkin success! For those of you lucky enough to have beautiful weather this Autumn you can really make an outside impact, whether that be on tables or porches, with a ‘pile’ of pumpkins. Trust me when I say that you will soon be plonking pumpkins on every surface! They really are that addictive!
Why not grab some friends or family members and have yourself a pumpkin party. Even if you are socially distancing you can have an amazing creative gathering through Skype, Zoom or other social media outlets that I know absolutely nothing about???
Don’t hold back with the colour or embellishments. Just fly in the face of tradition and have some creative fun!
Pumpkins are not just for Fall and Autumn so why not give them a Winter wonderland feel and enjoy them for even longer. I am in love with these Winter pastels and mine will be staying up right through Christmas.
Gnomes and pumpkins are a match made in heaven and my go to quick and easy projects if I need to just chill and relax. If you have been following my Nordic Gnome tutorial you will already know that gnomes are as easy as pumpkins to make. I CAN’T WAIT, TAKE ME TO GNOME TUTORIAL
Hopefully I have given you enough ideas to inspire your Autumn/Fall creativity so, just grab a felting needle and whatever is in your wool stash! Most important, it doesn’t matter what you make as long as you are creating something that makes you happy whilst doing it.
Adding a long coat to your needle felted sheep adds serious impact as well as adding another element of realism. I have had a lot of requests asking how it’s done and the technique is so easy that even the most nervous beginner will be able to tackle this with ease. Once learned, this technique can be used for so many other animals and projects.
YOU WILL NEED:
Any medium to coarse wool top.
Standard felting needle – 36 or 38 gauge are good all rounders.
Foam pad or felting mat to support your project.
TIME TO MAKE
Adding wool top and trimming: 20 minutes
Faff time: how long is a piece of string?
For full, flowing effect use a wool top for long coats, also known as roving although this isn’t strictly accurate. Carded wool can be used but you just don’t get the same results as the fibres are much shorter and run in different directions. As I am making my favourite, the Herdwick sheep, I have used Herdwick wool top but any medium to coarse wool top will work just as well. Herdwick wool top is very coarse, and sheds a lot so is not entirely suitable for all aspects of needle felting. However, for this application it is perfect and the earthy texture is just what I am looking for.
Herdwick Sheep needle felting kits are available on the website HERE
Lets get creating! Visit the homepage HERE for full list of tutorials
1) Your ‘naked’ sheep is prepped and ready for it’s top coat. To make this sheep follow the basic shapes video tutorials HERE.
2) If your wool top is quite thick then split it down the middle before starting
3) Cut (or pull) a strip of wool approximately 10cm long, but longer if your sheep is larger than mine which is 9cm from feet to top of its back. Please note: this is one of the few times it is OK to cut wool as the cut eds will not be attached to anything. TOP TIP: Cutting wool for needle felting is generally a no no as it damages the fibres, and prevents them from felting. If you do need to cut a piece away from your needle felting project (head maybe too big or legs not firm enough) make sure you wrap it in fresh, uncut wool before re-attaching.
4) Lay your strip of wool on the bottom half of the body of your sheep.
5 & 6 ) Felt across the centre of the strip of wool to keep it in place. Make sure it is firmly attached as you don’t want it to pull away when handled.
7 & 8) Fold the top over to double the thickness
9) Felt along the top to keep it in place.
Fun Herdwick fact: Herdy’s will climb up to 3000ft to graze on the Lakeland high fells, and are fondly known as the ‘gardners’ of the Lake District.
10) Repeat this process around the sheep until you have created a ‘skirt’. Trim around the bottom of the skirt so that the legs are visible and the wool is an even length all the way round.
11 & 12) Repeat steps 1 to 10 and create a second skirt approximately 1 to 2 cm above the first.
13) Once the second skirt is complete lay a strip of wool across the sheeps back.
14) Felt down the centre of the wool strip to secure it. Repeat once or twice more until the back is covered.
15 & 16) Skip this part if your sheep doesn’t have a neck. Add much thinner strips of wool around the neck but leave the top part of the neck visible.
17 & 18) Your sheep is looking a bit wild so smooth it down with your hands.
19) Now you have flattened the wool it is looking a bit chunky so time for a trim. You can also snip into it, hairdresser style, to thin it out and give it some layers. TOP TIP: Take your time as you can’t stick it back on once you have cut it and you don’t want to end up with bald spots.
20) Give it a gentle shake to get rid of any loose wool. TOP TIP: You may want to do this outside or in a bag to avoid lots of fibres flying everywhere.
21) I quite like the wild look but, if you want to go for the more traditional then just smooth the coat down and fluff gently with the tips of your fingers. Now, depending on the sheep you have created you may just want to leave it at that. However, the Herdwick sheep sport a pretty nifty ‘buzz’ cut so continue to the next section to see how it’s done.
22) Lay a thin strip of wool across the top of the head
23) Secure by felting across the centre of the wool strip, making sure the eyes are still visible.
24) You now have something of a troll situation going on.
25) Trim quite close to the head, being careful not to snip into the ears.
26) There you have it. Your sheep in all its long coated glory, ready for even the harshest of Cumbrian winters.
So you have spent hours making your fabulous needle felted sheep, only to realise you don’t have any curls to finish it. Grrrr! Not to worry, just grab a ball of wool, yarn or similar and make your own. It’s really easy and creates a whole new look for your needle felted animals; Scroll down for video tutorial.
It is also very calming and saves you sitting by the post box like this, impatiently waiting for your curly wool to arrive.
Here is a quick video (part 2) showing you how easy it is. I have used a coarse rug yarn but any yarn with an element of wool in it will do.
Use any yarn you have in your craft box; It is easier to apply if it has some wool content. I have used a coarse rug yarn and a really soft Merino for these two gorgeous sheep.
You will also find out how to add this lush, art yarn (video part 1) to your projects. I used a 40 triangle needle as it is a little easier but a standard (usually a 36 or 38 gauge) will do just fine.