Posted by: gourmetfelted | December 8, 2008

NEEDLE FELTING DIRECTIONS~TUTORIAL~ CHOOSING FIBERS for NEEDLE FELTED DOGS~TIP OF THE WEEK

gourmet-blend-007

GOURMET FIBER BLEND-

please see http://gfelted.etsy.com/

~~~MORE TIPS and QUESTIONS ANSWERED AT~~~

***After you read this post, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page…..I know, it is a long page, but there are some lovely pictures on the way..At the bottom of this page there are several more “YOUR NEEDLE FELTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED” and also more “NEEDLE FELTING TIP OF THE WEEK” to help you. Just click on the title, and it goes right to the post. Go back after you’ve read it to click on another. Fun right?

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Sometimes I’m asked what is the best fiber to use for felting? I spoke of that before but I will expand here. Also what fibers do NOT  felt?

The easiest fiber that I’ve found for felting is romney wool by far! When I first started felting I used pillow stuffing fluff! I wanted to save the wool for the fur, so I used poly fill. I would still use it now if I had a very large sculpture to make…say 12 inches or so. That would use lots of wool, so it would save the wool by using the stuffing fiber. Now for some reason, some of those felt and some don’t. I have no clue why. The one that I used that did felt, even had sparkles in it and it pulled apart like roving. I had another one that was more like pieces that wouldn’t felt. Also the flat batting style will not felt. I got a bunch of it for free and thought I’d be set for a year, but stab as I would…no felting!!

I have even felted with yarn….desperation is the mother of invention!!LOL! I pulled apart some rusty colored 100% wool yarn and made a pom.That was my first feltie.(I entered a post about that) I also experimented with some puffy acrylic yarn that I felted into a kitten. I didn’t believe that it would felt, but it did! It was so easy! I just wrapped around the wire and felted a little…done!! I still have it as a reminder of my early days  felting. I have also seen other sculptures made with yarn.

On a site that sold unusual colors of roving, I saw that she recommended romney wool for beginners as it felts so easily. That sounded good and I was curious to try it. I couldn’t believe how easy it was and how much faster I could make the boring cores!! have used romney ever since  Many people sell merino for felting, but that takes about 4 times more work to felt the same thing. Merino is a very fine thin wool so it is harder to felt. It is excellent as a topcoat for smooth coated dogs. It even has a nice sheen if you lay it on carefully. Of course ANY coarse wool will felt well as it is much easier to compress together.

I love experimenting with different fibers. I use a lot of “gourmet” fibers, that’s how I came up with my name, Gourmet Felted!! I have felted silk before, both natural and synthetic like soy silk, bamboo, llama, and  tencel. They are good for the topcoats and are extremely easy to felt. Cashmere and camel down are soft as a cloud . Angora bunny fur is also so soft that you can barely feel it. Be prepared to eat it when you use angora bunny. Did you ever wear one of those fuzzy sweaters? You know, the ones that SHED everywhere? Well, felting with it is worse and the fibers fly EVERYWHERE including on your lips, up your nose, on your food, etc!!

I haven’t tried yak, buffalo, seacell, milk fiber, or corn fiber. Maybe if someone does they could let me know how it felts?

**I have tried the seacell which is similar to silk, but slightly firmer. Also it felts easily. Be careful not to felt it too much or it will all disappear inside your feltie! Same with silk.

You all know that alpaca is my favorite and I also felt mohair which is very hard to felt, but doable if you keep at it.

SUPERWASH  WOOL WILL NOT FELT!!!

I have seen the most gorgeous colors in superwash wool, but had to pass them by as they will NOT felt. Superwash has been treated to remove the scales that cause the wool to felt together or it has been coated with a polymer for the same reason. Sure you can wash it and it will never shrink…but felting??? Impossible!

Felting pet fur has been discussed in a previous post. Basically it would depend on the breed. The fluffy soft second coat near the skin would felt easier that the top wiry coat that is more like hair. I would still use wool as a core and use the pet fur on top unless you have a bunch of it.

So all in all..I say EXPERIMENT! Please let me know what you find out. You will be pleasantly surprised sometimes and when it doesn’t work, you will still learn….. it is a mystery to you until you try it. That was why I bought a little cashmere just to see what it is like!!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FIBER TO FELT ? WHY DO YOU LIKE IT?

WHAT DID YOU FELT WITH FOR THE FIRST TIME?

I’ll be looking forward to your replies:)

HAPPY FELTING!!

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Responses

  1. SORRY! I got carried away with fibers! I didn’t mean for this post to be so looooooong!

  2. I like felting with romney too,it felts very fast and tight,cotswold fleece has a beautiful sheen and lovely locks for santa beards etc.My favourite wool is the norwegian grey that I use for my deerhound sculptures,mind you I do sometimes use real deerhound or bedlington terrier hair mixed in with it and it felts great,I’ve even felted with my pug Archies soft cream undercoat after i’ve given him a bath,it is as soft as angora and makes me cough!The first time felted I had just got the needles and was waiting for my first delivery of fleece,i was so desperate to try it out that I went and found an old pure wool cardigan with lots of little bobbles all over,i combed all the bobbles off,brushed them with 2 dog brushes as carders and went to work,i made a little poodle,that was my very first feltie!

  3. I wish that I could find Norweigan gray. I haven’t seen it anywhere. I love cotswold locks too. Have you ever seen black cotwold? I had it one time and I wish that I had kept it! Do you have a Bedlington terrier? I think they are so adorable. You make the BEST pugs!! I just got needles my first time too. That is so funny what we will go through to find something to felt with!! LOL! Do you still have your first poodle feltie? What color was it?

  4. Hi Gerry,
    The poodle was grey and he was my first ever sale on ebay,he went to Germany for £8.00 I was thrilled that someone bought something I had made!I don’t have a bedlington but I know a lady who does and she donated Beddie hair! I have a pug, 4 border terriers and 2 labradors …….oh and 2 budgies(unfeltable I think).I’ve not seen the black cotswold,,,,,,,,,,,,,,look for merino/milksheep cross,the fleece has a lovely tight crimp to it just like the wool you have used on your poodle,it’s great for making fox terriers with too.

  5. It is quite a thrilling thing that someone ACTUALLY PAYS money for one of our felties. My first one didn’t sell for much, but it was thrilling. Is beddie fur like poodle fur?? I’ve never seen one in real life. My brother gave me some poodle fur..I haven’t tried it yet. I believe that budgies are unfeltable for sure!!LOL!! I have NEVER seen such a thing as MILK sheep wool..no never.

  6. Hi Gerry:

    I’ve got a lot to learn. I never thought to ask what kind of wool we use. I know we used some mohair tonight at a special class I went to. But other than that all I know is it’s sheep wool.

    So what do I ask to find out what were using? I don’t what to sound stupid. Are these types of animals that it comes from?

    Has anyone tried lint from the dryer as “scrap” for a center of say a pumpkin? Just wondering.

    What is the least expensive, but good wool to work with?

    Thanks for the info.

    Janet

  7. When you say you used stuffing when you started, did you mean regular polyester stuffing?

  8. Hi Heather,
    Welcome to my blog. Yes I do mean regular polyester stuffing. Some of it doesn’t felt though. The flattened kind that is like a blanket doesn’t have long enough fibers to felt. The polyester that is in little pieces doesn’t work either. The puffy one that looks like cotton and pulls apart like wool will felt easily. I then put the top coat of wool over the base. This stretches your wool too. I try to felt most things to see how it comes out. Experiment and learn!
    HAPPY FELTING!

  9. Janet’s question was addressed in a post.
    YOUR NEEDLE FELTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED~WHICH WOOL TO USE?”Part Two

  10. Hi there. Gerry I love this site! I love using Icelandic wool. I use it for so many different things and I love the feel, smell everything about it! It has a lovely waxy kind of feel to it. I also use Corriedale which felts great and use carded ryeland for my core bases. I’ve got some yak and a few other unusual wools popped to one side which I plan to get round to soon. Will let you know xx

  11. Hi Sara! Welcome to my blog! I’ve never tried Icelandic wool before. It must have lanolin in it if it has a waxy feel. That would dry out your hands less than some. I haven’t tried Ryeland yet either. I have cashmere, camel down, and the expensive fibers that I use for the topcoat. Yak must be soft. I would love to hear what you think! I hope that I will see an entry from you too!
    HAPPY FELTING!

  12. I just wanted to thank you for your blog . It was one of the first I found hen I started my felting journey about a year ago and I haven’t put the needle down since . Your dogs are a huge inspiration but I have never managed to learn how to do miniatures….most of my work is pretty big amd cartoonish in style .

    AS to the wool . I started with Romney and it is my favorite as far as ease of felting but I love working with merino for the feel in my hands…(and when you work on something for 16 you might as well like the way it feels .)

    I did manage to get a hold of some Yak on Etsy…you can see an entry about it on my blog, and it was incredibly soft as roving and felted (needle and wet felted), a lot like Alpaca…which to me is harder to felt then merino but certainly does feel wonderful . I think it would be great as a rooted in top coat for dog hair but I have never figured out how to keep the hair from matting int one simi-felted bush when I try and do top coats…sooooo….Do you have a book in the works?

  13. Hi Denise,
    Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog. You made my day! Noooo, I don’t have any time to make a book!!LOL! I don’t have much time for anything this time of year as I am booked with orders!

    There are a lot of posts on my blog. You can find a list of them under any comment.

    I understand what you mean about the fur semi felting. If you do the furring on the body LAST, it stays nice. Do the head, tail, and legs first, and then the body.
    That way the fur on the body stays untangled from handling.

    I hope that answers your question!
    HAPPY FELTING!
    ~Gerry

  14. Hi Gerry
    This is the first time I have found your blog even though I have been looking at needle felt web sites for over a year. Never mind found it now. Great info I also use polyester for a core and I have found norwegian wool on the internet. This is similar to the wool kay Petal uses for her needel felt. I find it needles very quickly. I will be reading more of your blogs if I can manage to find time. Thanks for all the tips.
    Lindsey

    • Hi Lindsey,
      Welcome to my blog! I’m glad that you found it. If you look up needle felted dog images on the web lots are from my blog. I used to use polyester for the cores, but I find that a coarse wool felts up faster and firmer. I usually cover the core with fur so the color doesn’t matter! Thank you for your comment!
      Happy Felting!
      ~Gerry

  15. I am so happy that I found this web site! I am new to needle felting and I have so many questions. I am needle felting/sculpting larger animals and I am having trouble figuring out which types of fiber compacts and felts best for the core. One type that I bought was so spongy that it took me forever to felt but another kind needle felted like a dream. Unfortunately, I was so new to needle felting that I did not know that there was so much difference in fibers. Neither bag was labeled with the type of fiber that it was so now I do not know which type to stay away from which to buy. Can you help me with this? Is there a book that I can buy that might help too?

    • Hi Janet,
      Welcome to my blog! I am glad that you found me also! I always use coarse wool for the base and other fibers for the fur. The silky smooth soft wool is good for fur but I never use it for the core. You can tell by the feel of it if it will felt well. If it is a little scratchy then it will be perfect for felting the core.
      I have coarse core wool in my shop. White is shown but I have dog colors also. https://www.etsy.com/shop/GourmetFelted?section_id=5642801
      Roving is combed in one direction and smoothed out. When you felt wool the fibers need to be mixed together when felted, not lined up side by side. Lots of roving is so fine that it takes a very loooong time to felt firmly. Of course there are people who only felt with roving.
      Experiment and see what works for YOU!
      Happy Felting!
      ~Gerry

  16. Hi Gerry!
    I am wanting to needle felt a baby otter that has baby fine gray fur. I bought gray alpaca, gray angora and gray mohair to blend together. Can you please explain how to best blend these fibers together? I want them go in the same direction.
    Thank you!
    Janet

  17. I had a question about felting the polyfill. My friend is allergic to wool and unsure about other animal fibres and we were told he could use polyfill

    Are there any tricks to using it aside from the types/textures you noted above? How smooth/finished will it come out with the synthetic, compared to traditional wool?

    Thanks ❤

    • When I started needle felting I used polyfill for my core bases. It felts well except for the kind that is in flat sheets and is used for a quilt. The fibers were too short to felt together at all. Then I would use any of the vegan fibers available for fur. The final look would be the same as using all animal products. Sometimes I use vegan fibers for people who are allergic and request it.
      Thanks for your great question! Happy Felting!
      ~Gerry

  18. I really appreciate this post. I’m hoping to make a life size needle felted border collie and needed information about whether or not I could use polyfil as a core wool because he’s going to be a big lad!! Thanks so much!
    Kerry
    Feelingfelty.wordpress.com

    • Your welcome Kerry! Glad to help!Thanks for your comment! Happy felting!
      ~Gerry

  19. Hi interesting article I have some banana top and flax top do I need to hand card them to use them for needle felting or just use as they are?

    • Hi Vicky,
      Sorry but I haven’t tried banana fiber or flax for needle felting. I would suggest trying to anchor it into a firm wool base. The best thing to do is to experiment! It is fun and you can see what YOU like and what is easier for YOU to felt. Please let me know how they worked out! Happy felting!
      ~Gerry

  20. Thank you for this informative piece. I’m new to felting, but loving it! Already I’m looking for cheaper alternatives to roving and stumbled across your post. I will be off shopping for balls of wool now to experiment with. I’m already using stuffing for cores.

    • Hi Amanda,
      Thank you so much for your kinds words. So glad to help you enjoy needle felting!
      Happy felting!
      ~Gerry


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