Hedgehogs are a much rarer sight in our gardens than they used to be and I remember my dad getting my 11 year old self, and younger brother out of bed at midnight to see a visiting hedgehog in our garden. What a treat and such cherished memories! Whilst you may not see the real thing very often, at least you can have your own handmade hoglet to keep you company all year round. So, I present my needle felted version of our beloved hedgehog and how using a reverse felting needle creates fabulous spikey details.
Did You Know?
Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so bread and milk is not good for them! Find out what they really love to eat on The Woodland Trust blog at the bottom of this post.
Skill level: Complete beginners and beyond Make time: 1 hour
Time to settle down with creativity, a cuppa, maybe a slice of cake, and join me for a full tutorial teaching you new needle felting tips, tricks and techniques.
VIDEO TUTORIAL AND MATERIALS LIST
You will need:
Grey wool top for body
Brown carded batting for top layer
Light brown wool top or carded for face
Darker wool for nose
Brown wool top for spikey halo
Standard/medium felting needle – I use a 38 star
Reverse felting needle for spikes – I use a 32 reverse
Glass beads for eyes
SHOP NEEDLE FELTING KIT– MAKES THREE COLIN HEDGEHOGS
If you want to encourage hedgehogs in your own garden here are a few guidelines from James Martin, content editor of the WOODLAND TRUST
What do hedgehogs eat? And how to feed them?
Evidence suggests this decline is most severe in rural areas and hedgehogs are actually faring better in our towns and villages than the countryside. This means gardens can be an important refuge for the species. One way you can help any visiting hogs is to provide some food. But what do hedgehogs eat and what should you feed them?
What do hedgehogs eat?
Insects and other invertebrates are the hedgehog’s main natural food source. A typical diet includes:
What to feed hedgehogs?
As opportunistic eaters, hedgehogs will readily consume food left out in your garden. The best foods to provide are:
Meat-based cat or dog food
Specially-made hedgehog food
As well as providing food, you can put out a shallow dish of water to ensure any visiting hogs stay hydrated.
What not to feed hedgehogs
The following foods should be avoided when feeding hedgehogs:
Bread and milk (hogs are lactose intolerant so milk can make them ill. Bread has little nutritional value)
Mealworms (thought to cause health problems when eaten in large quantities)
Starting a new craft can be exciting but also a little confusing. Needle felting is no different and the array of wool, tools and accessories can send you into a confusing tailspin.
The truth is, you don’t need a lot to get started and it is a budget friendly hobby, until you become addicted, which you will, and then no amount of felting wool will ever be enough!
That’s why I always recommend a starter kit to get you going. They are inexpensive and have absolutely everything you need to complete each project from start to finish. It’s a great way to test the needle felting waters, whilst building your creative confidence. All you have to do is open the box and add enthusiasm.
Here are my top 5 recommendations for beginners kits. They all come beautifully boxed and are perfect for storing your supplies! No sewing, no tricky patterns and they take just a few hours of your time! They also use our gorgeous British wool, carefully selected for its excellent needle felting properties.
Complete stunner and he knows it! This, along with the Herdwick Sheep, is the most popular beginners kit. It is such fun to make and you can and you can follow the instructions to the letter, or add your own touches. As well as detailed instructions you can felt along on YOUTUBE by following the beginners playlist.
My favourite sheep from the Lake District is an ever popular needle felting kit. Great for building your needle felting confidence, this super kit will soon have you warmed up and ready for your next project. As well as detailed instructions you can felt along on YOUTUBE by following the beginners playlist.
A gorgeous little project that has enough wool to make two of our favourite UK garden birds. A perfect project to create with your bestie or, one for you and one to give away. There is also a great video tutorial HERE showing you how easy it is to create a perfect wing shape without the need for a cookie cutter.
What’s not to love with this design? Even better, you can change the markings to represent your own four legged friend. As well as detailed instructions you can felt along onYOUTUBE by following the beginners playlist.
If you are looking for a home for the wee little forest dwellers then this is right up your street. Lot’s of different techniques and a great needle felting kit for beginners. Any self respecting gnome or fairy would be thrilled to have the keys to this house! As well as detailed instructions you can felt along to the video tutorial HERE
When it comes to crafts and wool storage, there is no such thing as a spare room; what an utterly ridiculous concept!? However, the easier it is to access our precious wool the more felting can be done. So, assuming we don’t have an entire house free for wool storage, what is the solution to storing our wool efficiently and safely?
There are three simple but important rules for keeping your wool in the best condition:
Direct sunlight will, over time, bleach the colour out of your wool. A brightly lit room is fine (moths hate the light) as long as your wool is in containers that protect it from UV rays or the containers are facing away from the light. IMPORTANT! Don’t use sealed bags in a warm room because the moisture will build up inside and moisture is also wools enemy.
Much of my wool is in a very brightly lit room (below) but I remove it from the plastic bags and store it in black bins with lids, or open fronted stacking boxes, facing away from the windows. I don’t have any problems with fading wool or moisture (even in the summer) because the air can still circulate. No moth problem either because they hate bright light. For smaller amounts in bright rooms you can use cardboard shoe boxes, craft boxes, drawers, jute bags, etc.
What if you can’t store it in a brightly lit room?
If you are keeping wool in a dark room, drawer or cupboard – and many of us do – make sure they are in airtight containers or bags; this will keep the moths out; if you are concerned about moisture then pillowcases are a great solution or, wrap some kitchen roll or a tea towel around your wool before sealing. Silica gel sachets are also another moisture deterrent. Also, if your wool is stored for long periods, it is good practice to take it out occasionally air it and check for moisture.
Moth Deterrents Without Chemicals
A proactive approach is always best and Lavender and Cedar are good natural deterrents as the smell confuses the moths, throwing them off the scent in the hunt for your precious wool stash. However, neither will kill an infestation and, if the moth eggs are already there you will need to remove and dispose of the contaminated wool. There are hundreds of ‘remedies’ on the internet for getting rid of them but, as with everything, prevention is better than cure. Thankfully, in the nine years I have been using wool I have never had a moth problem (or used Lavender and Cedar) so, hopefully, neither will you.
I recently asked my Facebook communityhow they were storing their wool and they had some cracking storage solutions for large, and small amounts of wool which I thought I would share with you.
Jane has inventively stashed her wool in cardboard poster tubes with all the colours cleverly sticking out of each end. Or, if If you want quick access to all your lovely wool, then Lesley’s easy desk set up, using takeaway containers, is just the job. It’s also a great way of ogling your wool stash and thinking about which wool you are going to try next?
Sharon has stored all her lovely wool and locks in these handy compartment boxes. I think I have seen similar in B&Q and Argos? The tool storage aisle is always a great place to look and probably cheaper than the hobby stores. Sock drawer organisers are also a great way to store your wool in a similar way. It’s also a great portable solution so you can take your wool anywhere.
How’s this for super space saving ingenuity? Michelle has come up with a great solution for storing small amounts of wool in these fab jam jars which are the perfect shape for getting as much in a small space as possible. The six sided hexagon means that no space is wasted and is also the very reason that bees use the same pattern in their hives.
Open ended stacking trays are a great solution for storing wool, especially for a business that needs to store a lot of wool in the most efficient way possible. Door tidy’s are also a great way of utilising your space and keeping everything in one place.
Lin has cleverly used plastic shoe storage boxes and labelled each one so she can grab what she needs at a glance, and I love my craft drawers on wheels.
Kathy’s suitcases are an imaginative solution for storing your wool. However, Verity’s cat had other ideas???
I know there are hundreds more storage ideas but I hope this has given you some inspiration for keeping your own wool stash in the best condition possible and, if you are still struggling for space then the only option really is a second home???
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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 🤢
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I don’t know about you but I am desperate for Spring. What am I talking about?? The whole country is desperate for the new season so we can get back into our gardens and forget about world events for a while. Crafts of any kind, whether that be needle felting, sewing, knitting, flower arranging, gardening, are more important now than they have ever been but there is nothing like the spring sunshine to get our hearts fluttering. Even better though is crafting in the Spring sunshine and I have just the project for you.
LET’S SPRING INTO CREATIVITY
I have put together an easy video tutorial showing you how to create this fabulously fuzzie bumbler and all you need is wool, a felting needle and a BBQ skewer… A BBQ skewer you say? Trust me, you will wonder how you ever managed without one in your felting tool box!
VIDEO TUTORIAL HERE
The whole project should only take around 45 minutes and you will get faster the more you make. Pop on a brooch back and you have the loveliest accessory or gift for Mother’s day and I can’t think of anything nicer to adorn a jacket, scarf or hat than a unique piece you have made yourself.
Make half a dozen and you have a beeutiful (had to get that in somewhere) Spring display, garland or cute mobile.
I have also put together a BUMBLE BEE WOOL PACK to create two bees which includes two brooch backs and a BBQ skewer. Available on the WEBSITE
Don’t forget to tag me in you project photographs @lincolnshirefenn and, if you’re not on social media you can email them to me at: email@example.com I love adding photos to the gallery!
Grab a cuppa and mince pie and get creative with me, You can felt along with me or just watch and save for later. All you need is a handful of wool, any colours or type, and a felting needle. A cocktail stick will come in useful but it’s not essential.
OK, so maybe her attention is more on the mince pie than the needle felted gnome but, she does love wool and loves watching me needle felt. That counts, right?
Nordic and Scandinavian style decor is so popular and I just love it. What I especially love are the charming Nordic gnomes. You may also see them referred to as Nisse, Tomte and Tonttu. Our house is full of them and they are super easy so here’s a tutorial for you.
If you have never needle felted before or are an experienced felter this is a wonderful way to start and get you in the festive mood. It’s simple and relaxing and so much fun to make.
This is just one style to get you started but there are so many variations that soon, like me, you will be tripping over them. So grab a cuppa, mince pie and some festive cheer and get creating.
1 – Hat: Make this first so the body fits the hat; much easier than trying to fit the hat to the body! You can go as small or tall as you like but this hat, when completed, is approx 20cm. The triangle template measurements are approx; base 10cm (slightly curved) and sides 12cm .
Layer your hat wool on your felting mat and pop your hat template on top of your wool, leaving a few extra centimetres of wool around each side. Top tip: Your wool shouldn’t be too thick but make sure you can’t see the felting mat through it
2 – ‘Draw’ a line around the triangle with your needle to create a very rough outline
3 – Remove template and draw around the line a couple more times. This will be your fold line.
4 – Fold in the sides one at a time and start to felt to create a triangle; it will be a very rough shape to start with but you will tidy this up as the wool becomes more felted so stop fiddling with it!
5 – Gently fold and felt each side until you have this rough shape; keep the excess at the top of your triangle because this is going to create your lovely pointy hat shape.
6 – Gently pull away from the base you are using, turn and repeat. Tip; any felting base will do (foam, rice bag etc), whatever your preference.
7 – Keep repeating the process until it starts to firm up.
8 – Time to tidy up the shape; use your finger to fold in the sides that need straightening (doesn’t have to be perfect). Be slow and careful so as not to stab your finger; you can use a finger guard but I find they just annoy me. However, I have lots of customers who get on with them just fine.
9 – Your approx finished triangle which should be soft but firm and holds its shape.
10 – Fold in half and felt along the side to mesh the fibres together. Keep turning and repeating until the hat is now firmly felted along the side so it doesn’t pull apart when you gently pull it.
11 – Open up the base of the hat and tidy up the line by folding in any rough edges and felting. Keep turning and felting until you are happy with the shape at the base of your Tomte hat.
12 – Roll just the top 2/3 cm of your hat between the palm of your hands to firm up the top and point. This improves the look as well as allowing you to tip the point over to the side at a jaunty angle.
Basic Body Shape
Body shapes don’t get much easier than this. Don’t be too precious about needle marks and dimples because most of this will be covered by its big beard.
1 – Roll your wool (I have used natural white Shetland) into a basic barrel shape. It will do this automatically as you start to roll. Start with less than you need and build it up.
Most important! Do not start to felt with your needle until you have rolled at least half of it really tightly; trust me, this will save you a lot of felting time and applies to all body shapes made this way!
2 – Start stabbing all over with your needle (mind your fingers) as you continue to roll and remember to keep it tight. Tip: Check to see if your hat sits on top and if the body is too small add some more wool and felt again. If it’s too big then continue to felt where the hat will sit to reduce the size.
3 – Continue to turn and felt until you have a more even and neater shape. You may end up with a narrower end which is fine because you will pop the hat onto this. Pay particular attention to the base which needs to be flat for stability. Tip; you can also press on the base once felted as the wool is pretty malleable.
4 – Flatten the base until it sits without wobbling.
5 – Pop on your hat and felt, gently, all around the edge until it is felted securely onto the body making sure the hat seam is at the back.
6 – Make the nose by rolling a pinch of white or flesh coloured wool in your hands just to rough it up. Place on your mat and continue to felt with your needle, turning all the time. Now place back into the palm of your hands and roll vigorously until really firm and smooth. Tip; you may have to do this a couple of times to get it right as it is very easy to add too much wool and have a huge nose if you have never needle felted before. Less is always more when it comes to needle felting.
7 – Place the nose on its side, just under the front of the hat and felt the end into the body.
9 – As you do this the nose will naturally rise into its correct position. Continue to felt around the base until it is firmly attached. The base of the hat should be sat just above the nose.
10 – Decide what type of beard you are going to have. I have used grey Jacob but use whatever colour you wish. Curly locks also look really great.
11 – If using a straight wool pull off a small section and fold in half and start by felting it onto the body just under the nose. Don’t worry about it being longer than the body because you will trim it to size (or not) once it is attached.
12 – Continue to felt along the fold and attach it up the side of the nose and along the hat line. Tip; you can push the wool under the hat line with your needle (don’t bend it or you may break the needle) for a neater finish.
13 – Now trim your beard to your desired shape and style. I like mine quite ‘raggy’ so once I have got the length I then snip into the sides.
There you have it. One fabulous Tomte Christmas gnome! You can crease the hat or keep it straight. I like both. Told you it was easy!
Try different wool and add some fabulous locks for a different look. For the gnomes below I have used a lush teal batting with green silk fibres for the hat, and plant dyed, hand spun locks for the beard. The gnome on the right has a beard of grey Masham shot through with white silk.
But why would you stop there when the variations and colours are endless!
For the first time in my 51 years I am suffering from, what I can only assume, is anxiety. I am usually pretty chilled and my glass is almost always half full. Yet, my stomach is in knots, I can’t switch off, my heart is constantly fluttering, I’m frequently feeling overwhelmed, and fight or flight mode is firmly in the ‘on’ position. I’m worried for those who are going to suffer terrible financial hardships over the coming year and for the kids where school is a safe haven and a place where they get most, if not all of their nutrition. Ring any bells? Well of course it does. It is a universal feeling and we are all suffering – to one extent or another – the same emotions. Much of what we take for granted will be out of reach for some time and many of us (myself included) have the added worry of close, immediate family members and friends who are very vulnerable with serious health conditions. We are entering difficult times, in uncharted territory, and need to find our own coping mechanisms to help us navigate the next few months and beyond. So here’s the thing. We all know how to stay safe but staying sane is another matter. Many of us will be isolated and often lonely over the coming months and crafts, now more than ever, will provide us with much needed respite and allow us to switch off, for a little while at least. For lots of us crafts and the creative community will become our online ‘tribe’ and take on a much more important role. Creativity is so important for our mental health, especially as we hunker down for the long haul. I had a discussion with a very close friend about how I was feeling and her advice was to keep creating and continue to share it with others, as I have for the last six years. So, to that end, I will continue to add tutorials to YouTube and the blog whenever I can. I may even do a Facebook live if that’s something you might enjoy. It’s also a time to refocus and prioritise and this is just my, very small contribution. If there is any aspect of needle felting you are struggling with, even if it’s the confidence to get started, then just pop over to my Facebook page and message me or pop a question in this FaceBook post. Even if I’m not around (or don’t have the answers), there are lots of knowledgeable and talented crafters on there (some I have been in contact with creatively for a long while) able to share their own creative advice or just give you the boost you need to get going. What you definitely won’t see from me is lots of ‘positive vibes’ quotes. It’s not my bag (I have always found my sense of dark, dry humour to be the best remedy) and it will get very old very quickly, oftentimes diminishing the problems we are facing. Nobody wants a barrage of ‘you got this’ or ‘keep calm and carry on’ when calm is the last thing we are feeling. However, social media really is about to come into its own so let’s bolster and support each other as much as we can and continue to use our creative social media community for the greater good.
YouTube tutorial links are below and kits and supplies available on the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts website and Etsy but all you need is a handful of wool, a felting needle and a cuppa. Stay safe and big love Sandy xxx
As I sat down to make a sheep at the weekend I decided to take some of my own advice and step out of my comfort zone. I have been wanting to make a pig for months but time, as always, ran away with me and other aspects of the business demanded my attention. So, I changed tack and pulled up various images of pigs on Google; even if your creations are not true to life a photo is always great for reference, proportions etc.
Now, you would think pigs, with their simple shapes and obvious snout wouldn’t be too hard… Not so. Their perceived simplicity means that there is nowhere to hide when it comes to making mistakes and that body and head shape took way longer than I expected. However, now I know what I would change for the next one. Overall I am pretty pleased with the end result but I would definitely do a few things differently next time; bigger snout; change how I assembled it; more work on the face.
As far as technique is concerned I tend not to use full body armatures*, preferring to work with a much more solid shape and my favourite British wool tops. Instead, I used 1mm paper covered wire for the legs only to aid stability and create a leaner leg. I prefer paper covered wire as the wool holds much better when wrapping and negates the need for any messy waxes or glue. I wrapped each leg in a base layer of white Jacob top then added another layer of carded Corriedale flesh leaving the trotters exposed for contrast.
*Some pieces require a full armature, especially if you want to pose your piece when it’s finished. Carded wool usually works best for this and creates a much softer sculpture requiring much less use of the felting needle.
The body core is grey Jacob top which is a lovely coarse wool top that felts really easily and is still one of my favourites after six years of working with it. Felting the core really firmly allowed me to shape the wool once it was finished creating a nice curve along the back. See video tutorial: HOW TO CREATE A FIRM BODY
I actually made the body, head and snout as one piece but would definitely make the snout separately next time because it lost a lot of its definition and I had to build it up again. I then covered the whole piece in a lovely carded Corriedale flesh, felting just until it held using my 38 needle at a diagonal angle to reduce needle marks.
You may be wondering why the core colour is a complete contrast to the top layer; this enabled me to create that lovely dark wiry detail that you will see on many pig breeds which sits in dark contrast to the really light top coat. This contrast is achieved by using a 32 reverse needle to pull through the dark grey Jacob wool top, enabling it to sit on top of the flesh colour. Wool tops work really well for this as they have a much longer fibre length than carded wool which allows them to be pulled through the body without breaking off.
Ears were the easy part and using a photograph for reference makes it much easier to get the correct shape and proportions. My needle felted ears tutorial shows you my favourite, super easy technique for creating animal ears: TAKE ME TO THE TUTORIAL
Finally, I covered a short piece of 0.5mm paper wrapped wire in carded flesh to create the curly tail; roll vigorously in the palm of your hands once the wool is attached. This will create a lovely firm finish which stops the wool from ‘sagging’ when it is curled.
Add a couple of glass beads for eyes and hello Twiggy The Piggy*
*I claim no responsibility for the name. Blame lies solely with my good friend, Nancy (author of the amazing Maine Coon cat tutorial) who named her ‘Twiggy The Piggy’. I told her it was only marginally better than Babe but she insisted…
Needle felting kits for all abilities are available on the website and Etsy:
I don’t normally post non needle felting related blogs but couldn’t resist as I am so thrilled to be April’s featured business in the fabulous online Handmade Seller Magazine. A huge thank you to Dani, founder and digital artist, at Handmade Seller Magazine for inviting me to be this months featured seller. Wow, writing a feature is hard and takes so much more time than you realise but, I really enjoyed going back over the last 6 years and reviewing my business journey. And, even if I do say so myself, it’s a really good read 📰
I have been a ma-hoosive fan (and subscriber) of this great online publication for about four years now and it’s a fantastic resource for handmade sellers. It covers everything from E commerce and Etsy to Pinterest, blogging, SEO (search engine optimisation), photography tips, resources…the list really does go on and on.
Even better, featured stories are told by the people who know best, business owners, sharing their own stories of successes, and failures.
It was a real honour to be asked to contribute. I hope you enjoy it and it helps you on your own handmade business journey or just gives you the courage to start.
It has so much going on and will keep one or two people occupied for a fabulously creative afternoon.
Incorporating three separate elements; mushrooms, snails and leaves, which mount on a lovely piece of split Hazel (from coppiced Welsh woodland*). Each element comes together to create a beautiful forest floor garden theme.
It is my most detailed kit to date with no fewer than 74 full colour photographs! Suitable for confident beginners and beyond. Just add enthusiasm!
You will learn all the basics of needle felting but with the added bonus of new types of wool and techniques to create fabulous shapes.
*I have carefully sourced the wood slices, which are split Hazel, from coppiced ancient woodland in Wales. It is an area that the owner has carefully nurtured back to life and is now full of all manner of flora and fauna. Wood slices are really popular for crafts but most come from unsustainable forests. If there comes a time when I can’t find a sustainable source then I will simply stop putting them in the kits.
Brand new to needle felting? Then pop over to the easy tutorials and dos and don’ts page.
I was beyond excited when my good friend and talented artist, Nancy Sullivan, agreed to be a guest on the blog and put together a needle felting tutorial for you all. What I wasn’t prepared for though was an advanced tutorial that is so detailed that I have yet to see anything to match it. This beautiful life-size version of her own cat, Scout, has taken many, many, many hours to complete and is beautifully written in Nancy’s typically charming and funny way. Whilst it is a very advanced tutorial, Nancy’s writing style and presentation still make it easy to understand as she skillfully and seamlessly moves you from one section to the next, introducing techniques I have never seen used. Thank you so much for all your hard work, time and generosity Nancy xxx
COPYRIGHT LAW APPLIES!
YOU MUST NOT:
Copy and sell/promote this tutorial as your own
Share the link and password for this tutorial on any social media, Facebook groups or via any other forms of communication
Print tutorial for use at workshops
Tutorial is for personal use only and cannot be used for any other purpose
However, sharing photographs of your sculpture on social media, Facebook groups and giving as gifts is acceptable but please make sure to credit your source of information and inspiration.
Failure to comply with the above would be viewed as copyright infringement.
My name is Nancy Sullivan. I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1950, moved to New York in 1988, and have been here in Southern California since 2002. Yes, I am 68 years old! My interest in art began in the 2nd grade when my teacher told my mother that I had talent. Because of that, my parents worked hard to give me as many opportunities for special art student programs as were available through my youth. Later, in high school, I entered a statewide competition in Oklahoma and won the first place prize, a small scholarship for college. Since then I have managed to work art into everything I do. I started working in Medicine at age 26, and before long my first “secretarial” job included working in eye surgery, designing and editing medical publications and doing medical illustrations of surgical techniques and graphically presenting research results for journals, textbooks, and international medical symposia. My mentors paved the way for me to attend workshops and special courses in anatomy and illustration. I was very fortunate to be able to create a situation where I could get this education as a part of my job. I also had the opportunity to attend and observe human head and neck dissections with Ophthalmology Residents. I also designed training manuals for non-medical employees so they would understand the basics of ophthalmology. I learned the most about anatomy from Joseph Sheppard, a celebrated sculptor and painter from Baltimore, who now lives in Italy. His training and publications gave me the knowledge to take my work to a higher level of accuracy. He teaches drawing human figures from the skeleton out – which is exactly how I approach the animals that I needle felt.
Needle felting is only the most recent of a life-long progression of crafts that I have enjoyed practicing. It started with making “outfits” for my Barbie doll when I was very young, which evolved into making my own clothes when I got a bit older. I used to make plastic car models with my oldest brother when we were young, and he was meticulous with tiny details, which seemed to rub off on me. My Grandmother encouraged me to take up quilt-making, which I did for many years with her, and continued to do on my own after she died. In my career, most of my “craft” involved technical illustration, but I still managed to do some quilting and other projects on the weekends. While in New York, I was exposed to the most wonderful variation of arts and crafts, attending shows and Museum exhibits as often as I possibly could. I was surrounded with inspiration from all kinds of art and music. The best time I’ve had has been since retiring, being able to choose how I spend my time – I have taken up genealogy of my family and created many volumes of information and images, and “scrapbooks” to be handed down to future generations. Paper crafts have taken over the landscape of my life, since there is no limit to the creativity you can translate into tangible pieces you can hold in your hands and share with others. Stained glass was also very exciting and rewarding. Recently I have enjoyed doing hand-bound books; stamping, mixed media and watercolor remain some of my favorite crafts. I make hand-crafted gifts for Christmas each year, and design greeting cards for all occasions.
I’d like to share with you some words that I have learned are true enough to live by, and they are certainly relevant when you think of how our artistic endeavors can enhance our enjoyment of life… the older you get, the more meaningful these words become!
“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” Charles Kingsley
Thanks to Sandy at Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts, I have added needle felting to my growing list of interests, and enjoy it more than anything else I have done – wool sculpture – it’s the best! All these artistic endeavors have enriched my life enormously, and I am very pleased to have this opportunity of sharing that with you.
All photographs and finished pictures are Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts originals so please make sure to credit my pictures as inspiration should you decide to use them as reference for your own picture. This also applies to all social media and blog pages. Copies of my picture must not be sold! However I am happy for them to be gifted as long as full credit is given. All copyright laws apply.
I have had lots of requests to put together a quick guide to get you started on needle felting a 2D/3D picture so, using my own pictures as inspiration, here it is. It is suitable for all abilities (including complete beginners) and you can work at your own level and at your own pace. If this is your first time needle felting then please watch my beginner video tutorials to familiarise yourself with basic techniques:
If you are new to needle felting, or don’t have many colours, I have put together a picture pack containing a carefully chosen wool selection, natural pre-felt and natural effect fibres that can be used for needle felting and wet felting. I will be focusing on needle felting but you can adapt to suit whatever project you are working on.
Preparation and planning is really important. I find using a photograph of a landscape, animal, woodland scene etc for reference/inspiration really helpful. It can be the roughest of guides or very specific to the photograph or image you have in mind. You may have a particular animal you want to incorporate into the picture which is also a great starting point; anything goes.
For this guide I am creating fields as the backdrop with a 2 D wooden gate, Herdwick Sheep and pebble wall in the foreground. It is called, ‘Watching Me, Watching Ewe.’ I know, cheese on toast right… but it was too good an opportunity not to. You should hear my pirate jokes. I save those for special occasions, usually workshops. #sorrynotsorry to anyone who has been at the receiving end of them…
Enough pre-amble, lets get started.
1 – Using a piece of *pre-felt for the back of your picture take a marker or chalk to, very roughly, draw out your idea on to the pre-felt: ZERO DRAWING SKILLS REQUIRED. This way you can ensure that you can fit in all the elements you want to use.
* I always use pure Shetland but any 100% wool felt is OK. Size of the pre-felt I used for this picture is approx 20cm square. A 30cm square is included in the picture pack.
2 – I am making a *Herdwick picture with a landscape backdrop and stone wall to get lots of 2D elements in there. It’s quite a small picture; 20cm square to fit into some lovely shadow boxes I have. Also, starting with a smaller picture means there is less white space to fill which can be a little daunting and it takes less time.
*All photographs and finished pictures are Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts originals so please make sure to credit my pictures as inspiration should you decide to use them as reference for your own picture. All copyright laws apply.
3 – Mark your colours and objects so you know where your wool and 2D elements are going to sit. Keep it as simple as possible and remember these are just your guide lines.
4 – Time to get out your wool and needles. I am using a star 36/38 needles (good all rounders) and a punch tool (7 needles) to speed up the process.
5 – I felted the landscape first but you can start wherever you want depending on your picture style. I will be felting on my 2D elements later and adding embellishment. Lay your colour on, or between the lines, you have drawn, and use your needle to gently felt into place. It doesn’t have to be firmly felted but should stay in position.
I have used a mix of coarse wool tops and some semi carded wool tops that I had a lot of.
6 – Continue to gently needle felt your selected colours until the back ground is full.
7 – If you are happy with the layout then go ahead and felt the whole background more firmly (but not too flat), peeling it off your mat at intervals so it doesn’t stick. If you are doing a lot of flat felting then I recommend a rice filled hessian or strong cotton felting pad and a punch tool. Trust me, you will thank me later for cutting your felting time by three quarters.
Don’t worry if you have covered up some of your lines; remember they were just a guide.
You can also blend colours either by hand or using blending brushes (glorified dog brushes). For this picture I used a blend of Shetland blue top, light blue silk fibre and light grey Swaledale top for the sky.
8 – I wanted a distinct line separating the fields and used very thin strips of dark brown Jacob wool top to achieve this. Felt the lines quite firmly into the pre-felt which will push it down and give a little more depth.
Time to create some 2D elements.
9 – Wall
I have used lots of muted colours to create the pebbled wall appearance. Avoid all ‘flat’ colours by blending different colour wool by hand; if using the landscape box some colours will not need blending as they will already have texture and different shades. A soft palette works really well for this style of picture e.g purple blended with white, dark grey blended with white or light grey
Make your stones by rolling your wool into a very rough ball shape (this is not the shape you will end up with but will create dimension) and felting all over with your needle. Keep the wool moving as it firms up and don’t try to make it even; have you ever seen even shapes on a dry stone wall… Make quite a few different shapes and sizes; mine are approx 1.5cm to 2.5cm then place them on your picture in the walled area to see how many more you will actually need.
Once done stitch or glue them into position; I’m not a purist and whichever you choose is fine. Clearly, using glue is so much faster and a strong fabric glue will do just fine as long as you give it a little time to dry. Using glue also allows you to move your pebbles about before the glue dries; you will be ready for a cuppa at this stage anyway.
10 – Time to make the Herdwick sheep head (or whichever animal you have chosen).
Please follow the link to the video tutorial:How to needle felt a head shape You will want to flatten the back of the head so it sits nicely on your picture. You can then needle felt your eyes or use beads (included in the picture pack).
11- Start with a small length of white wool (approx 2g) and roll into a rough oval shape felting (stabbing gently with your needle) and tucking in the ends as you go. Gently felt until it holds its shape and turning as you felt. Continue to felt until you have achieved a rough egg/oval shape. Now flatten the back of the head by needle felting until it sits flat on the picture but don’t attach it yet; it’s ears are missing.
12 – Ears: For the ears take a pinch of white wool. Lay it on your pad and draw a rough circle with your felting needle and fold the wool around the line you have drawn, felting it into the centre. Turn over (to prevent from sticking) and repeat a few times, leaving one end loose (to attach to the head) and felt until flat, smooth and slightly firm. Repeat for other ear. Attach the loose end of each ear to the side of the head and felt or sew into position so it is peeping over the wall.
13 – Gently felt on very thin wisps (even thinner than that) onto the face to create the nose and mouth. N.B. Easiest way is to roll very thin wisps of wool between your fingers before felting to the face. Alternatively, you can sew on using black or dark grey thread.
14 – Add your gate by rolling and felting your brown wool into short lengths and overlapping for effect before gently felting into position. You may reposition a few times before you are happy with it.
15 – Add your wool for the body of your animal but don’t felt it flat and keep it quite loose as this will create dimension. I have used loose curly grey locks.
16- Now add your foreground details. I have used greens and some locks for a grassy feel but be as creative as you wish. You could add flowers, butterflies, bees etc.
17 – Finishing touches make all the difference and as you can see I have used french knots (easy and absolutely no need to be perfect). YouTube French Knot Tutorial. Curly locks also add more interest and dimension.
There you have it. Super easy 2D picture tutorial.
I have done a few pictures which are so worth the time they take. Here are a few more ideas for inspiration.
‘Asleep Under The Cherry Tree’ A gift for my daughter.
Again, I have used French Knots as well as beads for interest and detail.
‘Midnight At The Northern Lights’
Midnight is the name of my hare in the picture and inspiration came from my dream of visiting the Northern Lights.
You can also use wet felted pictures as a base and then add two dimensional effects using needle felting. Free motion embroidery works really well on wet felted backgrounds. Below is a very unfinished picture waiting for me to decide what to do next. I have needle felted onto Shetland pre-felt then wet felted the whole scene incorporating locks and silk fibres.
Hedgehog needle felting kits are available on the Website
So excited to introduce Colin Hedgehog, the prickliest member of the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts tribe. The full needle felting kit to accompany this video is also available on the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts website.
This is my version of our beloved hedgehog. More fun than you can shake a stick at? Not sure what that means but it is definitely a lot of fun.
Skill level: Complete beginners to intermediate
What you need: Enthusiasm!
So, make a cuppa, cut yourselves a slice of cake and join me for a full tutorial teaching you new tips, tricks and techniques as well as trying new wool and needles.
Bonus! if you are using the kit you get to make at least 3 Colin hedgehogs! What better way to spend a crafternoon…