I often say that a new craft is the last thing I need. Although I’ve not written about it here, sewing, knitting, spinning, cross stitch and embroidery keep my hands busy, some more than others. But then along came needle felting and I was a goner.
It includes some of my favorite things: fluffy wool fiber, needles, repetition, portability and cuteness. It also has something I don’t love – danger. Specifically, the danger of stabbing oneself with a rather long sharp needle and causing injury. But I’ve found a way to over look these things in favour of the cuteness. How did I come to add this craft to my roster? Let’s start at the beginning…
Two summers ago I started following the lovely Nadia on Instagram, then a few weeks later, a I spotted a budgie in her feed – that same budgie had magically appeared in our backyard but it was too quick for me to catch. Luckily for budgie, it found a home with her and we began conversing via IG likes and comments. Flash forward to this past Christmas when I started asking her about the cute needle felted ornaments she was hanging on her Christmas tree. One thing led to another, and the next thing you know we’re organizing a needle felting evening with some other like minded ladies, some of whom I’d never met and others who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at The Workroom.
It was a super fun evening with delicious food, lots of laughs, and a lot craftiness in one room. For me, it was a bit like hanging out at the lunch table with the cool kids – except that that these cool kids are super nice. I had a blast. My expectations for the needle felting itself was pretty low, I had only two goals 1) do not stab myself 2) have fun!
The abundance of fiber that was present was ridiculous, much of it thanks to a generous contribution from Louet Fibers and Jacqueline of Soak Wash, and Nadia’s own considerable stash. I think it’s safe to say that fun and cuteness was had by all!
Maria stabbing fiber into heart shaped cookie cutter.
Karyn’s cute little mouse taking shape. Check out her blog Make Something and the Workroom, if you haven’t yet!
Nadia showed me how to cut shapes out of the felted wool roving – she’s making ears.
I managed both of my goals for the night – I had fun, and I did not stab myself. This is my little mouse.
I emerged from the crafty evening hours later – to find Toronto blanketed in a major snow fall that was overtaking south-western Ontario. It took me over 2 hours to inch home to Burlington, with no one else on the Lakeshore in front of me. Yup, over two hours and the road was empty – that’s how bad the snow was. I got home after 1am. On the upside, in between focusing on the road, I had a lot of time to think about the needle felting things I could make! I have an idea of a something I’d like to make for a friend’s birthday coming up soon, but I need to practice first. The nice thing about practicing with needle felting is you generally end up with something – not like knitting swatches. Within a few days of our crafty evening, I had rounded up supplies to start needle felting a sheep, and enough core wool (big fluffy pile in the back there) to make several other items, along with a Clover felting tool – with 5 needles in a retractable handle. The foam on the bottom is not just a background for the photo, but a very handy surface for needle felting, protecting tables, legs, hands, stomachs and other body parts from being stabbed by the felting needle.
In hindsight I probably should have taken more pictures of the work in progress for my own review later (for a long time it looked more like a polar bear) but I was completely engrossed in shaping the wool and stabbing it over and over… so much so that 3 hours later I had this (and I hadn’t stabbed myself yet. Are you sensing a theme?):
Needle felting is repetitive – stab, stab, stab, shape, stab, stab, but unlike knitting (which I still can’t do very much of, thanks to my stupid tennis elbow) doesn’t require me to follow a pattern. I can do it anywhere in the house, unlike sewing with the sewing machine, and super bright light isn’t a requirement (like with embroidery or cross stitch, thanks to my computer tired eyes at the end of the day). It’s small enough that the pouch carrying the supplies fits into my purse, including a little folded square of fabric I place on top of my purse to work on (so as not to stab my legs or hands). All these items got taken along for the GO train ride last week, and Lamby got a face and some pink ears.
I really loved the challenge of the wavy Leicester locks used to make Lamby’s wooly coat. What I did not love is that while working on Lamby’s body, I broke one of the needles off in its bum… so there’s a sharp object lodged deep in its body that I can’t get out. In good news, it’s deep in its body so it’s not coming out and won’t hurt anyone so long as it’s out of the reach of small children). Apparently it’s important to stab in an up and down motion and not at an angle, which can cause needle breakage. Lesson learned.
At the moment Lamby is sitting on my new desk along with the best mail I’ve received this year – a lovely card from another crafty friend who thought of me when she saw this illustration by Dear Hancock Paper Goods. Thank you so much Lisa!
My new craft is guaranteed to both relax and amuse me, due in part to the strange looks I get while doing it on my way to work. I’m pretty sure no one on my train has seen needle felting before! Consider that I took a fairly cute stuffed toy like Lamby-in-progress out of my purse and stabbed it repeatedly with a long needle for about 5 minutes. I was trying to make the body rounder instead of long like a bear’s body – but the man beside me on the train seemed to have different ideas, or maybe he just had uncomfortable pants on and that’s why he kept shifting in his chair and glancing at me weird. Either way it was funny!
And that’s how I ended up adding another craft to my rotation – I’m so glad I tried it. I can’t wait to stab my way to more cute needle felted critters!