"Free Patterns & Tutorials"
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2.  Keep your fingers out of harm’s way.  When felting ALWAYS place your work on a foam
board or other similar work surface and poke toward the board, never toward the free hand
that is holding the piece steady.  DO NOT hold your work in the air and attempt to felt that
way.  This will lead to stabbing yourself.

Always poke and remove your needle
IN AND OUT AT THE SAME ANGLE!   Never bend your
needle while it is embedded in your project.  If you should ever break a needle be sure to locate
the tip that has broken off - they are very sharp and could lead to an injury if left lodged in
your piece or lying on the ground.  

About Buying Wool:

1.  Most wool that is available commercially, either on-line or in local spinning/yarn shops
are meant for folks who like to spin wool into yarn, with the idea of the final product being
something you can knit, and probably, wear as a garment.  Thus, most available wool is of a
VERY soft, silky sheep breed known as Merino.  Merino wool works great for spinning, and
even for wet felting.  But for needle felting a coarser, "scratchier" wool actually works best.  
The barbs on the felting needle need "scales" on the individual fiber strands in order to have
something to grab and entangle.

The wool I sell in my shop (Sage Dream Design.com) is a sheep breed called Romney.   It's
coarseness and long fibers lend itself to quick felting.  Of course, I wouldn't want to wear a
sweater made of it but, then again, I have no plans to needle felt sweaters!

2.  If you are buying on-line and can't feel the wool for yourself, you can always ask the seller
to describe the wool to you by comparing it to Merino or Romney, or asking if it's soft enough
to wear as a sweater.

3.  I do use a wool commonly referred to as Corriedale for a lot of my fine detailing work.  But
it tends to show the needle holes and so I reserve it for small areas.

About Buying Needles and Tools:

1.  You could likely live your whole life felting using just a '38 triangle/star' felting needle and
be perfectly happy if you've got a nice, coarse wool to work with that felts up quickly.

(***Note; there is only a small difference between a "triangle" shape and a "star" shape needle
- some people think the "star" felts quicker.  For me, I haven't found the difference worth
spending more for the pricier "star" type.)

2.  If you've got some silkier, finer wool, like 'Corriedale' or 'Merino', then it would behoove
you to use a finer gauge needle, such as a '40 triangle/star' size.  Using the finer tipped needle
will cause your piece to felt a little more slowly (the needle barbs are spaced closer to the tip of
the needle than on a 38 gauge), but the size of your needle hole will be much smaller.  Meaning,
you won't have unsightly, gaping needle holes in your project!

3.  If you love to work on miniature sized pieces, like tiny teddies, for instance.  Then you don't
need anything other than a single felting needle --  one each of '38 triangle/star' and '40

4.  If you want to work on larger scale items, say beyond 4-inch diameter or height, then tools
can make a big difference in the speed at which you can work.  A 2-needle tool works great for
smaller areas, and a 6-needle tool is great for larger areas.  I use a 2-needle tool for shaping my
dolls and the bark on my trees.  I use a 6-needle tool for making my playscape mats and things
like giant mushrooms, caves, and tree trunks.

5.  If you're a very part-time hobbyist or a beginner who isn't sure what you want to make, the
purchase of tools can be an unnecessary expense.  You can do quite a lot with just a single
needle.  It just takes more time and patience.

About Handling Wool:

1.  As a general rule, do not cut wool with scissors – cut wool is difficult to felt.  To separate out
pieces of wool to use simply grasp a strip or section of wool between your two hands and gently
pull apart.  If the wool is not separating easily than slide your hands further apart and pull.

2.  Most purchased wool (and all wool bought from Sage Dream Design.com) has been combed
(“carded”) by a machine that makes a lot of the fibers run in one direction, creating a grain.  To
separate the wool, pull it apart widthwise, not lengthwise, along the grain.

3.  Do not fold or twist the wool as you lay it out on your work surface or as you wrap a wire
armature.  Folding and twisting make it difficult to create a smooth, even felted surface and
twisting, in particular, makes the wool much more difficult to felt.  Wool will always felt more
easily and quickly if you think in terms of “opening” up the fibers to expose as much surface
area as possible.  

4.  Wool both grows and shrinks while being needle felted.  You are starting work with fluffy,
airy wool.  As you poke it with the needles, you start to compress all these fibers, thereby
making your fluff into something more dense and compact, but at the same time, compressing
these fibers tends to cause a “pancake batter” effect – your piece will start to lengthen and flow
outward.  Flattening and lengthening seem to go hand-in-hand.  Thus, if you are working on a
mat or trying to match the size of a pattern, you want to leave a little bit of room for your piece
to expand/lengthen while also remembering that your piece will flatten and not be as thick once
you are finished.

5.  "Over- felting".  Don’t let this happen to you!  Any time you need to attach two felted pieces
of wool together they need to have some fluff of fiber available to felt.  Wool fiber has tiny
scales all over its surface.  The entanglement of these scales by the barbed felting needle is what
causes your wool to felt together.  If you felt the pieces too thoroughly, they will have difficulty
joining together since all of the scales of the wool will already be entangled, leaving insufficient
scales available for the joining process.  If you ever have difficulty attaching overly felted pieces
together, try sticking a bit of fluffy, unfelted wool in between the two pieces to give them
something to grab on to, sort of like a wool “glue.”

6.  "Doneness".  How do you know when you've needle something long enough?  Well, that
depends on the purpose/function of the finished piece.  If it is going to be a child's toy,
especially a young child, then you want your finished piece to be very firmly felted.  Rubbing
your hand across the surface of the piece you should work until you're not able to move or
disturb any of the fibers.  And, ideally, you shouldn't be able to leave an indentation if you
press on the piece with your thumb.  Of course, this is in a perfect world and you would have to
spend alot of time poking (which is how I make my toys)!  You can still get your finished piece
to stand up to a child's play if you work it less than perfectly smooth, but the more firm,
smooth, and tight your project is, the more durable it will be.

If your finished piece is meant to be a wall-hanging or display item, you don't need to poke it as
thoroughly as an item that's going to be handled regularly  Poke the piece enough that your
fibers don't easily move around. Poke enough that YOU like the look of the surface area;  really
fuzzy and fluffy, really smooth and tight, or anything in between!

(***This tutorial is for your personal use only.  Please do not reproduce for monetary gain.)
Sage Dream Design
(& Songs of the Spirit Arts)

About Felting Needles;

1.  Felting needles are not merely long, rusty-looking
sewing force at which they are used can create an injury
far greater than that with the usual use of a sewing needle.  
GREAT CARE should be used by people of ALL ages
while needle felting.  While children (even the very young)
certainly possess the motor skills to use a felting needle,
they lack the consciousness to always keep the needle
away from their free hand to avoid being poked or
stabbed as they work.  
Needle Felting Basics
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