Friday, 5 April 2019

The Positive Effects of Needle Felting

Canada 150th, Wool, 11.5″ x 8.5″
Blog 14

Anyone who has ever been to one of my felting courses can confirm that needle felting is a very versatile and enjoyable activity. So what exactly is felting and why are people so enthusiastic about this old craft?

When I talk to people about my felted projects, many have never heard about this craft before, or only from friends who have thrown a knitted article into the washer at hot temperatures. The hot temperatures result in the bonding of the fibres while the article shrinks. While some people do this on purpose following a specific pattern and instruction, I am sure that some of you have accidentally felted a woollen article in your washer. A result that is anything but relaxing! While this process is often referred to as felting it is actually called fulling. Felting, on the other hand, is the process of joining fibres together by either using soap, water and friction (wet-felting ) or by using barbed needles to repeatedly stab into the fibres (dry felting or needle felting).

To create needle felted objects, you use wool, a blend of natural and synthetic or synthetic rovings that you stab with a very sharp barbed felting needle to agitate the fibres, so they bond together to a solid fabric. Rovings are long bundles of fibre that are produced while making spun yarn from wool fleece, raw cotton, or other fibres. 

If you are creating a three-dimensional piece, you can either start with a ball or a finger thick role of wool that you stab with the needle until your shape is as firm as you desire. Your shape will get smaller in the process. In order to felt an object, you will add more wool for different parts of your object. Sometimes you might add wire or pipe cleaners to create a shape that is more stable and bendable. For two-dimensional pieces, you can either create your own felted sheet or buy a felt fabric as the base. I buy my felt fabrics and create my image on top of them as I cover the complete base layer. To avoid poking yourself, you can use a thick foam pad or cushion to work on.

Maybe, the description of this technique alone has made you curious about felting, but there is more to it. Like anything that you enjoy, felting is fun and relaxing. The repetitive motion of sticking the needle into the rovings keeps your hands busy and is a physical exercise. It also stimulates your brain when you look for ways to figure out how to transform your vision into the physical object. Felting is not only very soothing but can also help you to let off steam. Just think about the Voodoo dolls! Felting is also easy to learn. You need a little bit of patience, but feeling the soft material and forming it into unique objects is very rewarding. Plus, compared to other crafts like knitting or crocheting, there is no counting or learning of complicated stitches, and no need to finish edges – a task that is often responsible for my procrastination of the last step of finishing a knitted article.

If you would like to try felting, I invite you to join me for one of my upcoming felting workshops. The next one is on Monday, April 15, 2019, when we will be creating our own unique Easter eggs. Please go to my website for more information and to register.

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