A few photos from Saturday at Howden County Show. Our free mini workshops were a great success with young, old and and even the men having a go #realmencraft Raised some money for the Royal British Legion and, despite falling over and completely embarrassing myself (just as the re-enactment people started firing their guns), it was a lovely day. Thanks for inviting me Anna from Blacksmith Shop Crafts See you on Sunday for the hare workshop. Thanks also to young Anna (in the photos) for being such great company and for doing so well in the handicraft entries. Don’t spend it all at once 🙂 I just love County shows; always a great showcase for local talent and the areas idiosyncrasies, also we’re so damn good at them. The weird and wonderful all gathered together in the best possible way! Which reminds me; congratulations Foggathorpe Meadow on the grand opening of your compostable toilet 🚽 😀
Sadly, no Welly Wanging at Howden but I do believe the world championships are coming up soon at Upperthong Village in the Holme Valley.
Quick guide to needle felting eyes onto your needle felting projects. This is just one version I like to use and it’s simple, pinky promise! I would recommend a 40 gauge finer needle for this but a 38 is also fine; just make sure the head is firmly felted.
1 – Choose a light brown/orange (you can blend colours to get the right shade) for the first layer and felt on a circle (remember eyes are circles not ovals), to each side of the head. I like to use a photograph of the animal as a rough reference.
Use the same technique for larger projects. This one is a life size Snow Shoe hare.
2 – Roll two really small pieces of black wool between your fingers or use your fore finger and roll in the palm of your hand. Add to the centre of the eye and create a rough circle.
3 – Gently felt onto both eyes until even-ish and smooth-ish.
4 – Add some light into the eye by rolling the tiniest amount of white (no, smaller than that) between your fingers. Place it off centre and felt gently onto the black circle. If it disappears then pop a little more on the same spot. If it looks cross eyed when both eyes are done then remove (with a pin, not your needle) and re-position one of the pieces.
5 – Add some detail around the eye; take a very thin wisp of black/dark brown and felt very lightly around both eyes. Always use a length longer than you need as it will shorten as you poke around the eye. If there is a lose end then trim with scissors.
6 – More detail. This is entirely up to you but I have added some white/light grey to give it a loose finish and character.
7 – If you want to add some dimension you can create a brow by rolling a seed of wool between your fingers. Gently and loosely felt on, just above the eye.
8 – Keep the top layers nice and loose and very gently felted. You should hardly be penetrating the surface of the head for a more characterful finish. That way, if you are not happy with it, you can just tease the wool off (with a pin and not your needle) and start again. Practice makes perfect but there really are no right and wrong results. If you are happy with it then step away so as not to over felt it.
No stress advice: Don’t expect the next one to look the same. It never will!
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It was definitely a battle of the ears at yesterday’s workshop. Look at them all fighting for the limelight
It was another busy afternoon at Blacksmith Shop Crafts and for some it was their second and even third workshop with me. Now that could mean one of two things; they really enjoy my workshops and are needle felting addicts or, I’m doing something wrong I’m pretty sure it’s the former though. Thoroughly fabulous afternoon with a healthy over indulgence of craft, cake, tea and great conversation. A crafting collective; what could be better! Also a great reason for me to escape the virtual world for a little while and hang out with real people. I came out feeling so much lighter, despite the amount of cake I had eaten!!! Talk about crafts as therapy…
1 & 2: Start with a long length of wool and roll into a TIGHT rough oval/cylinder shape, stopping and tucking in the ends as you go; to get it really tight, push down into the foam pad or whatever surface you are using. Do not start to poke with the needle until you have rolled half way. If it is loose, unroll and start again. This will save you so much felting time and give more control over the shape.
Top tip: Start with less than you need and add to it as you go; you can add but not take away! Stab the wool as you turn – this is the felting process which tangles and locks the fibres together – keeping the needle straight until the wool fibres start to lock together and it starts to holds its shape. Keep turning as you felt so as not to make dents in one part of the body.
3: Continue to felt until you have achieved the desired shape and size for your project
4 When you have achieved a rough oval shape (the narrower end will usually become the neck of the body) gently roll it between your hands; this helps to smooth and shape the body and covers any deep needle marks.
Tip: If you are using Merino, which is a much finer wool, you will need more wool and usually have more needle marks. It will also take longer to felt. I prefer to needle felt with a more robust wool which is much more forgiving. Some of my favourites are Grey Jacob, Shetland, 56’s English, Swaledale, and Lincoln; all natural and un-dyed. If it is colour you want then Corriedale is a good compromise as it is a blend of Merino and Lincoln and comes in a large range of colours. N.B Make sure your Corriedale uses ethically sourced Merino from non- mulesed sheep. It is easy to get hold of and should cost only a few pennies more, if that?
Now you have your basic shape, continue to felt whilst turning the wider end and felt it flatter underneath to help your finished animal to sit; the legs and tail (if required) will also assist with this. Your finished body shape should be soft but springs back to shape when you squeeze it.
I have used a dark brown dyed Shetland wool in the tutorial photographs below and 38 gauge start needle (good all rounder and the ones I put in all my needle felting kits). However, this is personal preference and a 36 triangular would also do the job just as well. Tip: The higher the number the finer the needle
Featured photo (top) is light grey natural Swaledale and it is sat on a home made hessian rice bag.
Top tip: Don’t worry if you have created a lumpy look due to over felting in one area. You can fix this by laying a very thin top layer of wool (see below) and gently felting all over that area until it is just secured and lightly felted on. Expect this to happen; you are just learning and you will continue to do this even as an experienced needle needle felter. The beauty of needle felting is that the majority of issues can usually be fixed; the biggest problem is caused by starting with too much wool…less is always more!