Summer has arrived. The weather has finally become too hot for gardening or running around to yard sales, so I thought I would slow down enough to share some pics of my latest obsession: needle felting.
I fully concede that succumbing to the call of needle felting is an utter Waldorf cliché. But I must tell you that it’s far and away the easiest and more rewarding of any crafting experience I’ve had to date (and that’s saying something, as I only do low-risk, high-reward craftiness). In a single evening in front of some mediocre TV, an animal will come together out of some loose wool roving. (And btw, my sister mocked me mercilessly re: the Waldorf “thing,” and then she also got obsessed, so she who laughs last…)
Even the supplies are simple. All you need is:
- a block of some material that can be poked (the poly foam is really the only un-green thing about the craft);
- a few felting needles (they break easily, so you’ll want a few to start, from Amazon or far better priced in bulk, once the bug gets ‘ya, from this shop on );
- perhaps a wooden handle for the needle if you wanna’ get fancy; and
- some roving in colors suited for your project (on Amazon here, or from a much better and cheaper selection on Etsy, e.g., here or here; you can also find even more eco-friendly plant dyed selections).
The idea is also straightforward: the needles are barbed, and each poke knits the roving together, eventually becoming more solid.
Here’s what the roving looks like:
Unlike wet felting, which is also great fun, this is not a craft for very young children, though kids of about 4 or older can certainly give it a go, with the proper warnings about the sharp needles. To start them off, you can use small, fondant or cookie cutters and some metal thimbles, and give them a small piece of roving to poke inside the cutter to make a flat shape. They can add eyes or other decoration, and even then felt it onto another piece of fabric if their patience holds, as I did below.
I used a cookie cutter shape to create butterflies for a sweater for Maya, using a discarded sweater as the base. First, I collected sweaters in adult sizes by asking for donations on the list serv of old, holey or cast-off sweaters made of 75 percent or higher natural fibers like wool or merino wool. Then I felted them in the washing machine with a little soap and few old tennis balls, using the hot setting and checking them until they had shrunk to a child’s size. Then I popped them into the dryer.
I chose a cute blue cardigan and made a few similar butterflies in a small number of colors, then needle felted them onto the front sides of the wet-felted cardigan, checking the back to make sure they were secure, and pinching up the sides to make it appear as though they may fly away at any moment. Voila, a new no-sew jacket! The result would work with any shape or theme:
I used a similar technique on another shrunken, felted sweater for a gift for my niece, by directly felting onto the front of the sweater (a multi-needle like this one made this go much faster):
The same approach can be used to free-hand flat shapes for a child’s felt board, by flipping a flat piece over and over until it comes together:
Then, I got into making felted animals. Oh boy, it was all over then. I’ll post next start to finish about how to make a sheep and an easy sleeve snake, but in the meantime, here’s some pics of my creations thus far.
This is a very rewarding craft, as it allows you to create adorable and durable hand-made toys for children or small sculptures. Maya loves playing with them and making scenes out of them. She also likes watching them come together and helping with choices for colors and shape. Hope you enjoy them as much as she does!