Wool is feltable in a variety of ways. Wet felting makes the fibres in wool fuse together into a shape, usually to make a felted fabric-like material. This type of craft is useful for making bags, hats or scarves. Needle felting takes smaller pieces of wool and adheres them in order to make felted three-dimensional sculptures or flat appliques. These can make display pieces or jewellery and accessory items. The nature of wool is such that you only need a few simple tools to felt raw wool into a whole new creation.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Mesh washing bag
- Dish soap
- Heavy gloves
- Felting needles
- Foam cube
Place the wool you wish to felt inside a mesh washing bag. This will prevent the wool fibres from leaving a mess in your sink.
Fill the sink with the hottest water possible and add a small squirt of dishwashing liquid. Place the mesh bag full of wool into the sink and put on heavy gloves to protect your hands from the heat of the water. Use your hands to scrub the wool together inside the bag and agitate it around the sink. Continue to do this step for approximately 10 minutes.
Drain the sink and rinse the wool in ice cold water, continuing to agitate it and scrub at it with your hands. Repeat steps two and three until the wool fibres felt together. You will know this has happened when the wool is stuck together and you can no longer distinguish specific fibres from one another.
For needle felting, gather a small handful of raw wool. Lay it on top of a foam cube to protect your work surface and your fingers.
Poke a felting needle into the wool repeatedly, making short jabbing motions with the needle. The needle will felt the wool fibres together as it pokes through the layers.
Use the felting needle to sculpt the wool into a shape. For a flat shape, poke through all of the layers to solidify the piece and then jab around the edges to form the shape you desire. For a three-dimensional sculpture, jab around all of the sides of the piece to form it into the correct shape.
Add more layers of wool and continue to poke with the needle felting needle until the piece reaches your desired shape and size.
Tips and warnings
- In order to felt wet wool into a specific shape or an even thickness, immerse it in the hot water but agitate it on a work surface such as a counter top. This way you can spread out the fibres as you like.
- You can wet-felt a knitted or crocheted piece that was made with wool yarn as well.
- Felting needles are very sharp, so take precautions not to poke yourself.
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