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Handicraft technique: Wool felting for beginners

Handicraft technique: Wool felting for beginners
Posted on 24-10-2022 by Muriël Blom
Felting tends to be something you try to avoid in yarn-based crafts. You want to keep the fibers of your processed fabric smooth, your stitches defined, and avoid any shrinkage. For certain projects, however, you might choose to deliberately felt your fabric to transform it into something special. In this blog post, we guide you through all the ins and outs of wool felting as a handicraft technique.

What is wool felting?

Felt is an unwoven fabric in which the fibers are interlocked. It’s probably the earliest type of textile that humans ever made. The oldest preserved remnants of felt come from Asia Minor and date from around 6500 BC. There are many advantages to felt; felted wool insulates well, is colorfast, and repels water and dirt. Given all these advantages, it is certainly worth giving wool felting a try!

Wool felting process

Felting can be done in two ways: wet felting and needle felting.

Wet felting
With wet felting, you first wet the wool with hot water. Then you agitate the wool fibers which become increasingly tangled as they rub against each other. This creates your felted fabric. To felt your knitted or crocheted work, follow these simple steps:

STEP 1: Buy wool that is suitable for felting.
STEP 2: Knit or crochet your project.
STEP 3: Wash it in the washing machine, following the felting instructions on the wool label.
STEP 4: Your project is done!

Needle felting
You can also felt wool using a felting needle. A felting needle has tiny barbs down the sides that catch, tangle, and mat the wool fibers together. This technique works best with wool roving, but you can also incorporate synthetic fibers into your felted fabric. There are two common variations of this dry felting method: flat needle felting and 3D needle felting. With flat needle felting, you lay the wool on a flat surface and push the needle through the layers repeatedly until they form a matted sheet. You can use a piece of canvas as backing on which to adhere the felt. With 3D needle felting, however, you use the felting needles to shape the wool into a felted sculpture, like a doll or animal’s face.

Tips & tricks

Keen to try wet felting now that you’ve read about it? Hold on! Here are a few more important tips to make the process as smooth as possible and avoid ruining your project:

1. Want to felt your crocheted or knitted fabric using the wet technique? Try it with a swatch first! Felting shrinks the fabric, and the results may be unexpected. By experimenting with a swatch first, you can avoid ruining your whole project.
2. Remember that every time you wash your felted project in the washing machine, the fibers will continue felting. To avoid this, wash your felt by hand using a small amount of wool detergent and lukewarm water (20 degrees C).

Want to try needle felting instead? Then here are some key tips:
1. Always push the needle(s) straight down for the best results.
2. Try not to push too forcefully to avoid injuring yourself or damaging your work surface.
3. Made a mistake? Then carefully remove the area with the mistake.
4. Keep a picture or drawing of what you are trying to needle felt on hand for reference.

Yarn for wool felting

As you are now aware, the yarn you choose to use must be suitable for felting. These yarns are typically made from 100% wool, and it will state on the label that it is suitable for felting. At Yarnplaza.com, you can find a wide selection of felting yarn. Here are just a few of them:

Lana Grossa Feltro 92 Amber
Drops Nepal Mix 8913 Light Blue
We hope that we’ve piqued your interest in wool felting and that you will give it a go. Prefer to tackle a different handicraft technique? Then explore our kits for all techniques here here. Want to read more about the world of handicraft? Then read our blog here.

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