Hobbies can be essential to finding a healthy work-life balance. Spending time on a hobby is an easy way to make self-care feel productive. That is especially true with wool crafts.
Crafting, in particular, is a hobby that can produce beautiful, hand-made items while it relieves stress and fills free time. Unfortunately, if you have ever tried your hand at some of the more complicated crafts, you know that they sometimes cause the stress. For instance, if you’ve ever miscounted your chains while crocheting and had to unravel your entire blanket. That is not so much fun. Many other crafts are expensive, time-consuming, and challenging to learn.
Fortunately, wool crafts have none of those pitfalls. They are easy to make, adorable, and inexpensive. So, if you’re looking for a crafty hobby that doesn’t require loads of time, money, or skill, needle felting wool crafts is definitely for you.
What is Needle Felting?
The process of needle felting creates wool crafts. Wool fibers are naturally covered in tiny scales, which allow them to become interlocked. Needle felting consists of rolling a piece of wool and then stabbing it with a barbed needle. The scaled wool fibers will lock together, allowing you to move and shape the piece as you stab. The wool will become smaller and more compact, transforming into felt.
You can then attach additional wool pieces to the central part, creating elaborate or straightforward 3-D sculptures. Many people use needle felting to craft either fictional or ultra-realistic animal sculptures, due to the vast variety of colors and textures of wool available.
Tools for Wool Crafts
Needle felting requires very few supplies, compared to many other crafts. All you need to get started creating wool crafts with needle felting is wool, a felting needle, guards to protect your fingertips, and a foam block for a surface to felt on.
You may choose to purchase additional supplies, like plastic eyes and noses for animals, embroidery thread for embellishments, polyester filler to save money on wool, or a felting punch to use more than one needle at a time. However, nothing more than a needle, wool roving, and a surface is really required to needle felt.
Needle felting requires unspun wool, known as wool roving. This wool has not been chemically coated and retains its fiber’s natural scales. These scales are crucial to interlocking the wool fibers and sculpting the wool into shapes. Wool roving is available at any craft store, most department stores with craft departments, and online. It comes in many colors and textures.
Another option for the thrifty among us is to buy second-hand wool yarn or even wool sweaters for wool. Simply use a metal brush (an unused dog brush works wonderfully) to brush apart the fibers gently, and you will end up with wool roving for a fraction of the price. Look for at least 80 percent wool clothing or yarn to avoid chemically coated fibers.
You can only felt wool with specialty felting needles. These needles come in different sizes. Larger needles work better for the overall shaping of larger pieces, while smaller needles are best for tiny detail work and fine sculpting. Felting needles are barbed. The needle’s barbs will catch on the wool fiber’s scales, and lock them together with other fibers. That interlocking is what will shape the wool and compact it into felt.
It is incredibly easy to injure yourself while needle felting without protection. While stabbing yourself with a regular needle is no fun, piercing yourself with a barbed felting needle is an especially painful experience. We recommend that even experienced needle felters always wear finger guards on the index finger and thumb of their non-dominant hand. Inexpensive leather finger sheaths and rubber thimbles are available in craft stores and online.
Needle felting can be incredibly damaging to surfaces. It is crucial to felt on a disposable surface. Most crafters use a simple foam block as a felting surface. These blocks are very inexpensive and are less likely to break or damage needles than a hard surface. Due to their low price, they can also be replaced as needed for less than $3.00 each.
A common way to make needle felting even more affordable is to fill sculptures with polyester filler. It is the same material found inside most stuffed animals and cheap pillows. The filler felts very similarly to wool when stabbed with a felting needle. It is easy to shape wool crafts with polyester filler, then cover the shape with wool.
Wool is the most expensive part of needle felting, so filling crafts with polyester is a smart way to keep costs down.
Eyes and accessories
If you plan to use needle felting to create wool crafts like stuffed animals or dolls, you may want to consider buying a few accessories. The most popular accessory for wool crafts is simple black plastic eyes. Of course, more detailed eyes, noses, and other embellishments are available. Many choose to use embroidery thread for details like mouths and other facial features.
Pre-Made Kits Are An Option
It is possible to purchase a kit containing everything you need to start needle felting, plus optional tools and accessories, for under $20. Many starter kits include multiple needles, finger sheaths, a needle handle, wool in an array of colors, a foam block, eyes and noses, and a carrying case. A starter kit is an excellent investment and is many times more affordable than piecing together tools and supplies.
How to Make Your Own Wool Crafts
If you’re a by-the-book sort of crafter, feel free to purchase a pattern to guide your wool crafts. They are widely available via Amazon and Etsy. If, however, you prefer to wing it, you can still make amazing creations.
Begin with the largest section of your sculpture, usually the body. Roll up a piece of wool and use your felting needle to compact and shape it. Turn and rotate the wool frequently and continue to stab it into your desired shape. The more you poke, the more compact the wool will become.
Roll smaller pieces of wool for limbs, neck, head, or other additions. Use your felting needle to shape these smaller pieces, leaving some fibers loose at the end that will be attached to the central section.
Then, use your felting needle to push the loose fibers into the main piece of the sculpture. Continue to stab threads from the loose end, and from the smaller portion itself, into the main piece. That will firmly attach the two parts. Repeat this process for each additional piece.
If you decided to use a polyester filler for your project, go ahead and use your felting needle to attach a covering of wool to your polyester sculpture. Be sure to cover the filler from all angles, so the filler cannot be seen through any gaps in the wool cover.
Insert any plastic features, thread, or other embellishments. Or, simply use different colors of wool and a small gauge felting needle to poke details onto your sculpture.
Display your new wool craft or give it away as a meaningful gift to a friend or family member.
Enjoy Your New Hobby
Needle felting wool crafts is an excellent way to relieve stress, practice self-care, and express creativity. It is also inexpensive, easy, and a great way to create priceless gifts for loved ones or donate to those in need of comfort items. If you end up being particularly skilled at needle felting, you may even eventually consider selling your wool crafts.
Needle felting is growing in popularity, and wool crafts are current favorites of buyers both at local craft shows and online. Either way, creating with wool is just plain fun.
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