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.

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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.