The launch party for Feltique last night was a total success. I had a blast and met some wonderful new people. My friend and contributor to the book, Michelle Feileacan, came with her crafty creative energy, and together we had a great time greeting guests and introducing them to the book and projects. We set out a table with all the supplies needed for needle felting, and I was able to enjoy watching people who had never needle felted before try it for the first time. Many people involved with the book came, including one of my favorite models, Leila-Anne, and my technical editor (and also MAKE editor) Keith Hammond. It was so fun to gather with friends and celebrate the launch.
There are two things I love the most about needle felting. The first thing is the instant gratification. Projects begin to take shape instantly. The results are immediate. I can make art with wool in moments, and I love that. The second thing I love about needle felting is watching people who have never needle felted before give it a try. The comments are almost always the same: “Wait, what? All you do is stab the fluff, and it turns into something?!” And the answer is yes, all you do is stab the fluff. I’m not saying that there isn’t some finesse involved. This art, just like any other, gives you room to develop skills and improve your technique. But even if you have never picked up a felting needle in your life, you can still sit down with the supplies and make something in your first attempt. The learning curve is very short. It’s much harder to break down the walls to your creativity than it is to actually learn to needle felt.
If you want to give it a try, but are not quite sure what it takes, I made a quick video:
The wool used for felting is roving. It’s sheep’s fleece that has been combed, carded, and generally dyed, but not yet spun into yarn. The unspun roving is fluffy, and when needle felting, a little goes a long way. The fibers of the wool are coated in keratin protein. The protein coats the animal’s hair with microscopic scales. By agitating the wool with the felting needle, the wool tangles, and then the scales entangle, creating non-woven fabric that won’t unravel. The needles used for felting are not ordinary. The blade of the needle has multiple sides with tiny reversed barbs on the ends. The barbs tangle the wool together, in whatever direction you push the needle.
To get started, gather your wool roving, one felting needle, and a foam work surface. Place the wool on the foam, then begin pressing the tip of the felting needle into the wool. The wool will begin to compress in the direction that you push the needle. By rotating the wool, and by rotating the direction of your needling, the project begins to take shape.