Needle Felting for Repairs

One of my least favorite things in crochet or knitting is dealing with the loose ends once a project is finished. Needle felting can be a big help in securing those ends though, especially if your project is worked using a wool blend yarn.

Recently one of my friends had an issue with some mittens she had knit. When weaving in ends she had some extra strands on the outside of her fabric. We looked at the mittens trying to figure out how she could weave in the ends. They were going to be super short and there was a good chance they would pop loose.

Needle-felting to the rescue! I grabbed my size 40 felting needle, my “egg” felting surface, and a small steel crochet hook (not shown).

I cut the strand in the center, and had 2 short ends.

I then pulled the 2 loose ends to the wrong side of the fabric by inserting a small crochet hook in from the side.

I turned the mitten inside out and gently pulled on the ends to be sure I didn’t have any excess yarn on outside of mitten. I inserted my felting surface behind the fabric and snugged the fabric where I would be needling tight to the surface.

I then gently needled the ends close to where they came thru the fabric. I checked the outside (right-side) of the fabric regularly to make sure my work wasn’t visible. I wanted to secure the ends but not decrease the stretch of the fabric. Once I was sure the ends were well secured I trimmed off any excess yarn.

You can use this same method with any knit or crochet project. Especially if the project is worked in a wool or other animal fiber yarn. Needle felting can secure other types of fiber, but you may want to test it out before relying on it for your final project.

Needle felting can even be a great way to secure the cut end of longer tails that have been woven in. Especially helpful on items that get a lot of use like hats, mittens, scarves and blankets.

For longer tails, weave in like you usually do, but before cutting the yarn use your felting needle to secure the end. Then cut close to the needle felted spot to remove excess yarn.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

One of my favorite tools is Clover’s Single Needle Felting Tool. It is much easier on my hand than just holding the plain needle. The ergonomic shaping also allows for more control of the needle while working.
If you can’t find this tool locally it is available online at Amazon.com. Click on the photo below to go straight to it.

My October Classes

Wow! 2018 decided to go into high speed. October is half finished, but it isn’t too late to take some classes with me.

I’m teaching 3 classes before October is finished. All 3 classes are great ones for adding to your gift making skills as the holiday season is just around the corner. Best of all they are small projects so you will have plenty of time to finish up a few for the special folks on your gift list.

Saturday, October 20th 1p- 4p  “Curly Sheep Pin”

at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe, Longmont, Colorado.

This sweet little needle felted sheep pin is a wonderful gift item. In class I’ll be covering tips and tricks for needle felting small items, embellishing with mohair locks and how to create a very densely felted piece that will last for years to come. Basic needle felting experience is great, but not required. You will leave the class with your finished pin and the skills to make an entire flock of sheep as gifts for the holidays.

Saturday, October 27th I will be teaching at the Brown Sheep Fiber Arts Schoolhouse in Mitchell, Nebraska. This is a wonderful facility located just across the highway from the Brown Sheep Company. Roomy well-lit classrooms are the perfect place to learn new skills. Mitchell, Nebraska is only 14 minutes from the Scotts Bluff National Monument, so this is a great place to come for a fun weekend.

8:30a – 12:30p “Slippers that Fit!”

There are so many variables when you are crocheting wearables, even if you follow a pattern precisely you may not get the fit you want. In this crochet technique class you will learn what measurements you need and how to use those measurements to make slippers that always fit no matter what size yarn or foot you are working with.

1:30p – 4:30p “Sweet Angel Ornament”

Needle felting is a wonderful craft for creating lightweight wool ornaments for your holiday decorations. You’ll learn how to work with a variety of needle felting sculptural techniques to create a dense long-lasting felted ornament that will be loved for years. Project will introduce using a template for starting your sculpture, creating shapes separately then joining to your sculpture and directional gathering of fiber to create 3 dimensional shapes. Class is ideal for those that have a little experience with needle-felting already

Click on any of the class names to go to the enrollment pages for more information on taking one or more of these classes.

Needle Felting with Students

Last Saturday I taught a needle-felting class at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe. The shop is very small, so a full needle-felting class is only 6 students. This makes for fun classes where each student gets personal attention from the teacher. I have such a great time teaching and often time my students come up with new ideas or ways of looking at the project that really add to the experience for everyone.

3 of my students were a mother with 2 young daughters (9 and 12).  I generally don’t design my classes for children under 13 years of age, but these 2 young ladies were both very dedicated yarn crafters already. When the shop called to check with me I said let’s give it a try.

Saturday morning we had one student cancel because she had the flu, so we ended up with only 5 students in the class. We all had a great time and my 2 youngest students were intrepid and diligent in the class. The 9 year-old was really determined to work on one of the more challenging techniques for creating the “fleece” of her sheep.

This technique is one I used for creating my original Sheep Toy for the SBVFAF class I taught last September at the SBVFAF in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. It requires quite a bit of patience as you make loop after loop in yarn and needle them into place.

The 12 year-old came up with a fun technique of her own for making a bumpy “fleece”. She wrapped bits of plain roving around her needle and then pushed them into place on her sheep.

My other three adult students were having fun making “curly” sheep using mohair locks for the fleece. Again there was so much creativity amongst the students about how they would incorporate the locks. One student made a soft cloud of locks that she had gently teased apart.

My young students mom had fun creating a special curl over her sheep’s forehead.

The last student was very charmed by my original “curly” sheep, so she worked on adding her locks similar to how I had used them.

We had quite a fun little flock of sheep by the end of the class. Best of all, all 5 students were feeling very inspired and wanted to do more needle felting. I’m always happy when my students are excited to continue with the craft.

I’ll be teaching more needle felting classes this Fall and hope to create some that combine needle felting with crochet.  Keep an eye out here for more news about my upcoming classes.

 

When a Motif isn’t a Motif

This past week has been another whirlwind as I was preparing for the Scottsbluff Fiber Arts Fair. Today was all about Needle Felting, I taught 2 classes on the subject.

The morning class was “Needle Felting in 3D” and my afternoon class was “Sweet Sheep Toy: Needle Felting”. Both classes were well attended and I had such a great time with my students.

The sheep class students really applied themselves to the project, and everyone left with a new appreciation for how to create needle felt toys.  Tomorrow I’ll be teaching a Learn to Crochet class for Knitters “The Crocheted Edge”. This was a fun class I originally developed for teaching at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe. I’m looking forward to helping my fellow yarn crafters add crochet to their skills.

Speaking of crochet. I’m so excited to show you my 2 latest designs to be published in the October issue of the online magazine “I Like Crochet”.  Both of these designs were inspired by the idea of working fabric that has the appearance of little motifs without all the joining and tail weaving usually involved in that type of fabric. Instead the look of motifs is created by working continuous rows and using spike stitches gather the rows together. The edging and finish for each project is also worked continuously , so when you are finished with the crocheting, all you have left is weaving in a few ends and blocking

The “Sugar & Fig Cowl” is made in Berroco Yarns “Boboli Lace”, this is a colorful yarn with a lovely subtle sheen. The “motifs” are created in a 2 row repeat that is easy to memorize so you’ll have your cowl finished before you know it.

The “Cobbled Path Wrap” is a rectangular stole crocheted in Premier Yarns’ Deborah Norville “Serenity Sock”. The motif look in this design is worked in a 3 row repeat giving the look of ovals. This repeat is a tiny bit more challenging, but with the length of the wrap you will get into the swing of it pretty easily.

Both designs were worked in fingering weight yarns with lots of fluidity for finished projects with lovely drape and wearability.

If you don’t have a subscription to “I Like Crochet” then now is a great time to get one. This issue is filled with a number of lovely projects that can help you celebrate the fall season and that would make great gifts for the holidays.

Happy 4th of July!!!

Wow! Here we are again another July 4th celebration. For me this holiday has always been about family and fireworks.

This year is a big family reunion for my husband’s family on the Michigan shore of Lake Huron. We have lucked out on the weather and it is much cooler than they are accustomed to this time of year. Being mountain dwelling folks from Colorado we are loving the cooler temperatures.

His cousin arranged for the group to rent a lovely Victorian house right on the water and 2 campsites at the nearby State Park. We have all been riding bikes and hiking back and forth. Yesterday I spent some quality time with my boys playing in the water at the park beach

and collecting beautiful sand smoothed stones.

This pile of pebbles are very small and I am planning on doing some wire wrapping on them to turn them into jewelry.

The house has a lovely dining room area that has 3 walls that are full of big glass windows with screened sections. It’s become my place to sit and do some crafting work each day. I try to stay completely out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., fortunately the view from this room are lovely, so I don’t feel left out.

I’ve been working on this needle felted sculpture piece. Pretty awesome to sit here with birds singing, the sound of surf and a cool breeze. I’ve also packed along wire wrapping supplies, some beads, 4 crochet projects, 1 knitting project and my new Chameleon Art marker set. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to write a review on those while we are enjoying the time here.

Now I’m going to go do some more needle-felting and head to the beach for some toes in the sand time.

Experimenting with Felting Methods

A few weeks ago I posted about making a felting pad to work on when needle felting. If you missed my post about that you can find it here.  My friend Pam and were talking about all the work that went into making my felting pad, and that it might be faster to use some felted fabric in the construction.

That got me thinking about crocheting some wool yarn into fabric that could then be felted in the washing machine. It has been a long time since I felted a crochet project, or “fulled” one as that is the more accurate term for this process. I had forgotten that my fabric would felt better if I had a lot of air in the stitches. The openness of the stitches allow the fibers to move and bind more easily to each other.

Recently I shared about crocheting with pencil roving, the plan being that I would felt that circle to use in making a felting pad. Unfortunately I should have used a larger crochet hook. My finished fabric was actually pretty dense, which did not allow for the easy movement of fibers.

I also have the handicap, when fulling crocheted or knit fabric, of a front-loading washing machine. It’s a great washing machine for efficiency, but not for getting my projects to felt. Of course, difficulties are just a form of motivation for me. Or as my Dad always says, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In this case not so much invention as inspiration.

There is this relatively new product out there called “ArtFelt Paper” from Skacel. I have been watching numerous videos of it and how it is used to make felt. I actually purchased some recently, but have been too busy with deadlines for design projects and all the end-of-school-year activities for my boys, to experiment with it yet.

I was really intrigued by the method of felting demonstrated. I’ve never been a big fan of wet-felting because of the excessive amount of physical labor involved in transforming loose fiber into actual felt. Always seemed like a recipe for repetitive stress injuries. The ArtFelt method ends up with wetting the fibers then rolling the whole thing up with plastic and putting it in the dryer to be felted. It’s not the heat from the dryer, but the agitation that promotes the felting of the fibers.

After watching a few videos of this I began to wonder if I could felt or “full” a crocheted fabric this way. If nothing else, it would be a good experiment. My first step was to get my pencil roving circle wet.

I had gathered up my supplies: a plastic bag large enough for my circle to fit inside, an old cotton towel to keep the fabric from crimping when rolled up, and (not pictured) an old stocking.

I drained off the excess water and put the wet circle inside the plastic bag. I was recycling a bag that our bread comes in, so I made sure that all the printing on the bag was not touching the fabric.

Next I rolled up the old towel and set it on the outside of the bag at one end of the circle.

I rolled up the whole thing with the towel in the center.

Then secured it inside the old stocking. I tossed the whole thing into the dryer with a load of towels on high heat. I took it out after 15 minutes.

It had felted a little bit, but I decided it would take too long using that method.

I took the fabric to the kitchen sink and added a little bit of dishwashing soap. I then scrubbed it between my hands and alternated rinsing it in hot and cold water. It began to felt down very quickly.

I returned to the sink and rinsed and scrubbed some more. I rinsed out all the soap.

Next I tossed it in the dryer for a little while, then rubbed and stretched it to get a somewhat squared off shape. It was still fairly damp, but it had felted down to about half the size it started out.

I sat it on the top of my woodstove to dry overnight.

The next morning it was still a tiny bit damp, so I waited until that evening to begin the needle felting part of turning it into a felting pad.

The needle felting method I used was somewhat similar to what I’ve shown here before. I started by covering one side with a thick fluffy mat of fiber.

Then I filled in a few of the more obvious openings that were left in the fabric after the fulling/felting.

Similar to my other felting pad I made, I kept switching between working with my single needle tool and my multi-needle tool to felt down the fibers.

Once I had the first side well covered I flipped it over to work on the second side.

On this side I started out by filling in the hole in the center first.

Then I covered the whole side with a layer of fiber and needled it down.

I liked the way the top of the stitches in my original fabric showed and decided to leave them exposed in the finished version of the pad.

This experiment wasn’t really conducted in the true scientific method. I had too many variables and didn’t do a good job of tracking the measurements of my fabric as I felted it. It did work well to use a felted fabric to give me a good starting point when creating a felting pad.  It was a lot more work to felt/full the original crocheted fabric than I had anticipated.

I may repeat this experiment again if I can get hold of some more plain pencil roving. I would crochet the fabric much loosier and use a different method of “fulling” to get the fabric felted down as densely as possible.

I’m also hoping to create some thick pads of felt using the ArtFelt paper I purchased. I still need a few more felting pads for when I am teaching, that gives me some opportunities to experiment.

Sometimes Life Just Isn’t Pretty

I try to keep it real here on the blog, but not be too much of a downer. This week has been filled with things going sideways pretty much everyday. Basically its been one of those weeks that makes you want to build a blanket fort and check out of adult life for a week…maybe longer.

I was planning on doing an awesome post about all my adventures turning my crocheted pencil roving circle into a felted fabric for my weekend post.

Instead this week got especially interesting with my oldest son having a really bad day at school mid-week. Such a bad day that he didn’t go to school the next day. He wasn’t suspended, but things were tense. I guess this is some of the excitement of parenting a teen-age boy in today’s world. There were some important conversations about what had happened and lots of teachable moments in managing this.

Together he and I created a “medicine bag” necklace for him to wear. It’s amazing how much it has already helped him. We also worked on him taking some space each morning to center himself and breathe. Something that the daily rush often doesn’t give us.

Then there was also the crummy snowy wet weather, husband out of town for work, and the looming deadline for a large crochet design sample. It hasn’t been the best week. In a word, exhausting.

But there are always a few bright moments.  Like….

I made this tiny little “pocket” angel using needle-felting. I was pleased that I managed to make this small project without once jabbing myself with the very sharp needle. It is the danger with working tiny in needle felting, the needle can go right thru the object and into your supporting hand if you aren’t very careful.

I also made a fun felted toy for my youngest son. He has named it “Kitty Rock”. It was good practice for working out the shaping for a cat face.

He didn’t want me to add anything to the body, so it ended up being a palm sized oval with a large cat face. He loves it, and with the way this week was going, I’ll take the mom win.

My order from the Woolery came with some new tools for working with fiber. These are little carding brushes for preparing fiber for felting or  to return yarn into loose fiber (I’ll be utilizing that a lot). I actually put them to use when I made my little pocket angel.

The other tool from that order is a big sheet of ArtFelt Paper from Skacel. Not real exciting looking, but I’ll hoping to have a lot of fun with it once I have a chance to experiment with it.

I also got 2 packages of commercial felt sheets. One of the packages contained felt sheets that were 30% Wool and 70% Polyester. The other package the sheets were 100% wool.

I’ve played a bit with the sheets from the first package. They are very difficult to pierce with the felting needles, so I’ll be sewing with those instead. The colors are gorgeous and the quality of the fabric is really nice.

These are the sheets from the second package. They are a bit thicker than the other sheets and only 5 x 5 inches. Other than taking this photo I haven’t had time to experiment with them yet.  Depending on how my experiments go, I may be getting some more colors in this felt. I’m hoping to be able to incorporate commercially available felt sheets into my needle felting creations.

For the moment, I need to buckle down and get a lot of crocheting underway to finish the sample and be ready for shipping my samples off by Wednesday at the latest. How did May get here so fast?

Hopefully I’ll have some pretty crochet to show you next week, as well as my felting adventures with the crocheted pencil roving.

Is it a Rock?

The other day I saw a really cool video on FaceBook of rugs that looked like river rocks. I love river rocks. I have five medium sized ones that sit on top of my woodstove in our living room. They act as heat sinks as well as looking pretty. A heat sink is a solid or liquid filled object that retains heat and slowly releases it as the air around it cools. Occasionally I put one of my river rocks in a thick cotton towel to warm my feet on when the temperatures really drop up here on the mountain.

The rugs in the video were made with felted wool rocks by the artist/designer Martina Schuhmann from Vienna, Austria  (you can see the video on YouTube here). I was very intrigued since I’ve been playing with needle-felting so much. I decided to find out as much as I could about felting wool rocks or “stones”.  I first went to the artist’s Etsy shop to see if there was more information. You can check her shop out at: FlussDesign

In the video there is a close-up of one of her rocks being squeezed and it bounced right back.  That made me wonder how she was felting her rocks, were they solid wool or was there something else? Looking at Martina’s shop got me part of the answer. She stated that her rocks were made with a foam core.

I had the video on my facebook page and stated that I was wondering how she felted her rocks. My friend Angela sent me a link to a video on YouTube where they were felting around actual rocks. That got me wandering around YouTube looking at a variety of felted rock and other wet felting videos. I decided it was time to try felting my own wool river rock.

I dug out this piece of 1 inch thick foam that I had leftover from another project. It was a little dusty, so I gave it a good wash and hung it up to dry overnight. You can see in the photo above where it was clipped to my drying line. It wasn’t a very pretty piece of foam, but it was going to be enclosed in wool anyway. I drew an ovoid shape for my rock.

Once I had cut out the foam rock I trimmed up the edges to soften them. I figured wrapping the wool fibers and felting them around it would likely soften any hard edges, but I wanted to make this first rock as easy as possible.

Remember when I purchased that wool fiber from the Brown Sheep Company at the Loveland Yarn Fest last April? There was some interesting striped fiber in one of the bags. I had taken it out and placed it aside in another bag because I knew it would be great for a “special” project someday. It’s day had come, I thought it would be ideal for giving some “rock” texture to my felted faux river rock.

Before I started with that fiber though, I wanted to add a bit of my plain wool to the flat sides of my foam rock. Of course, my handy felting needle came out for this part of the project. I used the felting needle to tack the wool to the foam, just enough that it wouldn’t come loose.

I then did the same to the opposite side of my foam shape.

Now I had a little wool and foam sandwich to wrap with my special fiber. I set that aside for the moment.

It was time to lay out my fiber that would be the outside of my rock. I first pulled out drafts of fiber laying them out lengthwise on my work surface.

Next I laid out a second layer perpendicular to the first layer.

I was ready to wrap my little foam sandwich. If I do this again I will make my strip of wool fibers wider, I ran into some small challenges getting the core wrapped well.

I rolled the core up as snugly as possible with my strip of loose fibers. Then I was ready to use my felting needle to tack the fiber down well to the core.

At this point I had covered the entire core with the fiber and secured it well using the felting needle.

It was time to submerge the rock in my bowl of hot soapy water.

Now it was just all about working the wet felt to shrink it snugly around the foam core. This is the really wet and messy stage of this project. I also think I had a bit too much soap in my water. I alternated going to my kitchen sink and rinsing my rock with cold water to shock the fibers further, and working with the hot soapy water.

I also used my felting stone when I started getting the rock closer to the shape I wanted. The felting stone helped me smooth the surface of my “rock”.

I had finally gotten it felted well and I set it out to dry overnight. It was still a bit furry looking and had some odd shaping issues on the “bottom” side. I knew I would be doing a little “fixing” with my felting needle once it was dry again.

The next afternoon my rock was dry and I was happy with the squish factor of it.  I wanted to correct some shaping issues on the bottom and ends. Especially this odd little flap that had formed at one end. Of course, real river rocks do sometimes have cracks and little protuberances, but I wanted my rock to be an “ideal” river rock.

Fortunately this was easy to fix, I just added some bits of fiber and needle felted them until they were smooth. No more flap. I continued shaping and smoothing my rock with my various needle felting tools. All of them joined the party; single, 3 and 5 needle tools. The 3 needle tool was especially useful for smoothing the surface of my rock with lots of shallow needling.

Before

After

I am pretty pleased with how this rock came out. You can see how much the fiber shrank from the starting size to the finished size in the Before and After photos above.

The finished rock is only a little bit bigger than the foam core. You can get an idea of the relative sizes by looking at the shape in the remaining foam.

The patterning on the rock from the “special” fiber actually came out very well. I definitely have a side I consider the “top” of my rock.

This is my finished rock from the bottom.

And the side. Any way you look at it is pretty “rock like”.

I learned so much making this rock, one of the most important things was how much work it is felting a rock. I’m sure with practice I would get faster and have better results. But I would say it would be worth every penny to purchase a rug or other item from Martina. There is an incredible amount of labor in her pieces.

I may make some more rocks, but I think they will become a pillow for the sofa and not a rug. I was thinking that I could crochet the backing for the rocks to be sewn to, or I might even needle felt the rocks to my crocheted fabric. That would be the ideal marriage of both my current favorite crafts.

 

Making Your Own Felting Pad

You may recall when I took the needle-felting class back in January 2016,  the teacher introduced me to the idea of using felted wool pads to work on, instead of the usual foam rubber option. The wool pads don’t break down like the foam ones, and they are better for the environment.

One of the first things I did after returning home was make my own felted pad for working on. You can see my adventures with creating it in my blog post “Playing with Sharp Objects Again”. I also knew that I would eventually be teaching needle-felting classes, so I started making small felting pads that I could loan my students during classes.

I had someone ask me the other day if I would be making the pads to sell to other crafters. I won’t say a definitive “no” to that, but currently it isn’t at the top of my list. I would always rather teach folks how to make their own.

I had made 5 or 6 of the smaller pads during my last big needle-felting spree. I had attempted a number of different methods for creating my pads and wasn’t really pleased with any of them. During my needle-felting hiatus, while crochet took the front seat in my attention, my subconscious must have been chewing over the problems I had encountered.

When I decided to make more felting pads I realized I could use the “framing” method for at least getting my basic shape started for each pad. The question then was, what to use for the frame? In my house there are always lots of recyclables waiting to go to the recycling center in town. I dug thru what was in there and found an empty box that was just the right size.

I cut the sides that I wasn’t going to use and folded them over the sides I was keeping, then strapped the whole thing in place with clear packing tape.

The final box was a bit floppy and wanted to turn into more of a rhombus shape than a rectangle. How would I keep it from deforming when I was working on the pad?

My solution was to use some of my T-pins that I use for blocking. I squared up the box on top of my working pad, then used 2 pins along each side to hold it in place.

I didn’t place the pins at an angle to the sides, instead I slid them straight down the side of the box into the pad. Once the box was sitting securely on the pad I was ready to add fiber.

For this pad I decided to work on keeping the corners as squared as possible. To do this my plan was to fill the corners first to increase the density.

I placed 2 strips of fiber along the long edges and needled them a bit with the single needle to secure them.

Next I filled in the space between, tucking some of the fiber under the edges of the 2 pieces already in the frame. I used the single needle to tack this all down more.

Then I filled the whole frame to overflowing with additional fiber, concentrating it around the edges and corners. Time to do more needling to felt down this fluffy fiber especially around the sides and corners.

Next I used the 6 needle tool, that my friend Pam gave me, to felt the fiber further. The great thing about a multiple needle tool is for every strike with the tool it’s like making the same strike with the single tool 6 times. This speeds up the felting process a lot and is a bit easier on your body.

At this point the pad was felted enough that I was ready to flip it over and work from the other side. It is important to keep flipping the pad as you work on it, otherwise it can become firmly felted to the working surface.

I slipped my fingers along the side of a long edge and gently peeled up the pad of fiber from the working surface. Then I flipped it over and re-inserted it in the frame with the bottom on the top.

The fiber that is facing upward now is still pretty loose, I used a combination of single needle and multi-needle tools to felt it down.

These are the corners and edges after some single needle work.

Next I added more loose fiber to the edges and corners.

More work with the single needle to secure this new fiber.

Then I felted it further with the multi-needle tool. The pad is formed enough now that I’m ready for the next stage.

The next stage of making the pad starts with removing it from the frame. You can see in the photo that there was a little hole in my fiber in the lower right-hand corner. I solved that by needling a loose ball of fiber into that spot to fill it in.

Next I wanted to shape up the sides and corners of the developing pad. I used my single needle to felt them. I use a diagonal strike when working the edges, that way I’m not working straight toward my hand holding the project. When the fiber is still relatively loose the needle can come thru deeper than expected and you’ll stab yourself. I’m speaking from the voice of experience unfortunately.

For the pad to be useful it needs to be at least 1 inch thick and dense enough that it takes some force to penetrate the full depth. To that purpose I continued to add more fiber to increase the pad height and density.

I would switch off between the single needle and the multi-needle tools to compress the fibers of wool.

Once I felt like the edges were dense enough I switched my focus to increasing the density of the center of the pad.  This is the section that will get the most action when the pads are in use. Fortunately, with a felted pad it is simple to add more fiber to areas that are getting too worn.

I added loose fiber laid in the same direction and overlapping the edges. I did some rough shaping and tacking of the fiber with the single needle.

Next I concentrated on using my multi-needle tools for compressing the fiber. I used my Clover 5 needle tool (finer needles with more barbs) as well as the 6 needle aluminum tool.

Once the fiber on the flat surface was felted down fairly well, I gently and firmly folded the loose ends around the sides of the pad and secured them on the opposite flat surface.

This is the pad after that step. I needled some more along the sides and on the flat surface to finish incorporating the rest of the loose fibers.

This is the flat surface view at this stage of work. It is getting firmer, but I still have a ways to go.

You can see looking at the edge that the felt is still fairly porous. To complete the pad I continued adding loose fiber on the flat surfaces and wrapping the loose fiber around the edges. I worked both vertically and horizontally with how I lay the fiber down. I also added fiber to both sides as I went along.

This is the finished pad, I will likely continue to work on it with the multi-needle tools to firm and smooth the surfaces. My pad in this post took 3.2 ounces of wool fiber and is 5 1/2 inches x 5 inches x 1 1/4 inch in dimensions.

If you are making your own felting pad and want one side of your pad to have some color, making it easier to see natural colored projects, you can felt in some yarn ends or colored fleece. To see an example of how I did that on my pads check out my blog post: “Deconstructed Yarn Painting”.

Gypsy Wools and Clover Felting Tool

I spent a good part of my Tuesday running shopping errands before picking up Thing 2 from school. Right before I headed over to his school I decided to make a quick stop at Gypsy Wools. They are a fun shop in Boulder that carry a variety of yarns and fibers, as well as embroidery supplies. They also have a marvelous selection of fiber crafting tools.

My main reason for stopping there today was to acquire a few more felting needles and 2 of the Clover Single Needle felting tools.

I’ve been doing a lot of single needle felting work lately and my hand gets a bit tired. Since finding ways to craft without injury is one of my touchstones, I kept thinking that I needed to create some sort of ergonomic handle for the needle. Then I realized that I had such a tool already. I purchased one of these Clover tools about a year ago and have used it primarily when I am doing details like adding yarn embellishments to a needle felting project.

It comes with a 40 gauge needle, which is one of the thinnest.  All the Clover Needle Felting tools recommend that when replacements are needed you use the Clover Needles. I do love their needles, but I have lots of other felting needles, and I decided to see how well they would work in the tool.

The tool breaks down into 4 pieces: the handle base, the locking handle top, the clear needle cap, and the needle.

What makes this tool so effective is the little notch on the top of the handle base.

That notch holds the needle in place, so the needle won’t twist in the handle and break when you are working. The top of the handle has a metal disc that is firmly held against the top of the needle when the top is locked in place.

This is the whole handle reassembled with the needle in place. The needle in this photo is 3″ long, so it fits perfectly in the handle and the clear cap can be placed over the needle when the tool isn’t being used. This is a handy feature as it prevents jabbing oneself when fishing around in your tool kit for what you need.

The cap can be moved to the back of the tool when felting, but I’m not a fan of using a pencil hold when doing single needle work.

The photo above shows my preferred position to hold my felting needle when working.

Using the Clover tool works beautifully with my preferred hold, I simply leave off the cap and the shape of the handle allows me excellent control of the needle with a much more relaxed grip.

I have found that I prefer to use the 3 1/2 inch long needles when doing single needle work. This means I can’t place the clear cap over them in this handle. I just have to be a bit more aware of where the sharp ends are when I’m reaching for a tool in my kit. Though, I am finding with the additional length from the handle top, I may be liking the 3 inch needles better when using the Clover tool.

I am using my Clover handle much more now, and decided that I needed more of them. This way I can have a different gauge needle in each handle. Which is what motivated my trip to Gypsy Wools today.

Now, you remember at the beginning of this post, I said that I had planned a quick stop to just get some needles and tools? As you can see from the photo below, I ended up with a bit more than tools. The very helpful (one might say enabling) Barb said, “Have you seen all our loose fiber we have on sale? It’s 50 cents per ounce” Whoops.

I now have 8 ounces of some wonderful dyed and natural colored fibers to play with. There was even a bit of fiber that was a partially felted sheet that intrigued me. It is probably a good thing I couldn’t stay longer or even more may have ended up in my basket. Some of the green stuff is a combination of wool and silk. I’m really looking forward to experimenting with needle felting it.

Despite all the running around today I did manage to get a little crochet time in. I’m still working on my “super secret” projects for a magazine, which means I can’t share photos of my progress on those right now. Of course, my crochet design brain never sleeps, so I also came up with an idea for a new project this evening.

I’ve been wanting to do something with this beautiful linen yarn from Juniper Farms for ages. I have 2 balls of it and have made a couple of tries that I ended up pulling out.  I’ll be crocheting some swatches with it tomorrow to see if this latest brain storm is going to come out as nicely as I hope. More on that soon.