How to Hand Needle Felt – It's Easy!

Does art have a season?

needle felted fish
'The Fish' by Olga Snyder, from the Felted Wonders reader challenge gallery.

I suppose if you are passionate about a genre of art, it doesn't matter. I couldn't bear the idea of touching yarn in the summer, but I know knitters who knit all year long, regardless of the heat or humidity. So it goes with people who like to felt. I'm sure avid felters make felt crafts all year round.

We certainly received an enthusiastic response to the Felted Wondersreader challenge we ran this past summer (results in the November/December 2012 issue).

But for me, the urge to play with fuzzy fibers doesn't take hold until the first frostand then it takes hold with a vengeance.

Felting is an ancient art, and it takes no time at alland very few materialsto learn how to felt using the wet or hand needle felting methods.

Hand needle felting, in particular, requires a very small investment of time and money. Hand needle-felting supplies consist of loose fibers, L-shaped hand needles (they are very sharp and have barbs at the business end), base felt (anything from felt balls to craft felt sheets to a felted piece of knitting), and a piece of thick foam for felting into.

Here are basic felting instructions, adapted from Kelli Perkins's article in the July/August 2008 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.

1. Determine what kind of image you want to create on the front of your card. Start with larger, less complex shapes and work towards more intricate designs as you gain experience. A simple heart or flower is a nice beginning.

hand needle felting supplies
Basic needle felting supplies.

2. Place a pre-cut felt base on the felting foam.

3. Pull a small tuft of roving and fold or roll it into a loose ball roughly the size of the image you want to create. Lay it on the felt and poke the needle into it a few times to secure it to the foam.

4. From that point, poke the needle into the roving repeatedly until it begins to form a bond with the base. Be extra careful to know where your fingers are in relation to the needle at all times. After poking for a while, pick the base up from the foam and move it to another position. You'll see that the roving has migrated to the back of the felt base.

Note: It is only necessary to push the needle into the foam ½" or less.

5. Continue poking the roving, tucking and folding the edges over with the needle as you go to form the image you are trying to create.

felt artichoke in bloom by peggy j schadler
'Artichoke in Bloom' by
Peggy J. Schadler, from the Felted Wonders reader challenge gallery.

6. Once you've outlined the basic form, select small tufts of different colors and place them on top of the already felted area, then felt over them again to meld them into the picture. You can create highlights and shading with various shades of wool or silk. Go ahead and mix different kinds of roving and even lengths of fun fibers and yarns. Many things will felt up nicely.

Hand needle felting is great for small felting projects like jewelry, artist trading cards, and embellishments.

There are many projects and ideas for felting in back issues and CD collections of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. If you don't have every issue, now's the time to fill in your collection and catch up on projects and techniques you've missed.

P.S. Do you tend to use different kinds of art techniques depending on the season? If so, what do you do in cooler weather vs. warmer weather? How else do you adapt your art to the weather? Leave a comment below.


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