For my new book, The No-Kill Garden, I needed to learn how to needle-felt! And I'm here to tell you, this is a violent craft. Sleeping Beauty didn't prick her finger on a spindle--but a felting needle? It'll get you every time. You've been warned.
That said, this is a deeply satisfying activity. Knitting, crochet, even spinning--you can't really see your progress, unless you're working with yarn thick enough to qualify as rope. With needle-felting, though, every moment spent working is a moment with visible progress, and the three-dimensional possibilities are endless.
This tutorial will cover only the very basics, enough to give you the skills needed to work any of the projects in my book--and to experiment with your own creations!
To start, gather your materials. There are a variety of felting needles out there; this is the simplest and all you'll really need. Please note the jagged tip--those edges grab the fibers of the wool and tangle them--this is felting.
You also have options when it comes to wool. Roving is sold in small packages at craft stores like Michael's, but you can also frequently find some at your local farmer's market.
I'm going to teach you how to make the simplest thing of all--and the basis for many creations: a ball. Start by rolling your fiber into a semi ball-shape.
Take your needle and literally stab your ball through its center over and over. Rotate it often, as it will shrink as you felt, and watch your fingers!
Once you've got a basic ball shape, insert your needle more sideways, needle felting just the surface, like a rock skipping over water. This will give your ball a smooth but still fuzzy surface.
If you want to turn your ball into a garland, make a dozen or so more in a variety of colors--how many will depend on how long you want your garland to be! Using a tapestry needle, insert a sturdy length of yarn through the center of a ball and tie knots holding the ball in place. Repeat with each ball.
Hang it somewhere festive and enjoy!