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Needle felting is the process of felting wool with the use of specialized barbed needles and without the use of water. Moisture is generally not well tolerated because the needles are barbed, unlike smooth sewing needles, and will rust. You can use applique's of wool to decorate your wet felting, crocheted, or knitted project and other fabrics.
Wet felting is when layers of wool fleece are processed with water to create a sheet or piece of felt. It requires no needles or sewing and is generally recommended as a good activity for kids. Once you get a large piece of felt, you can then use a pattern to sew something like a felt hat for example. At that point, you might use needle felting to embellish by applying pieces of wool and pushing the fibers into the felt to create a design.
You can buy kits and supplies over the Internet or at a local hobby store. The growing popularity of needle felting has made supplies readily available. The soft wool fiber, alpaca, is the recommended wool, and simplicity makes this a good project for nearly everyone. Because of the extremely sharp needles required for these projects children should not be needle felting.
To get started with needle felting, you'll need carded fine or medium fine wool in a mix of colors, felting needles and a felting needle holder would be good too, a felting surface like foam. There are needle felting machines which you can buy to help with your project.
After you've chosen what you're going to decorate, you'll choose a pattern. You might draw or print that pattern onto paper to use as a guide to transfer to the project you're going to embellish. Use that guide to pin the pattern to your project and remove the paper. The pins in your fabric will now guide your work. Choose a bit of wool that's a little larger than your pattern and tear it off, you'll work the excess in later. Then you'll simply stab the needle through the wool and the fabric going into the foam. You don't need to stab deeply. As the edges of your pattern emerge, just fold the excess wool into the pattern and push the fabric in on itself.
Needle felting is a good project for someone who might feel as if they don't have a lot of artistic talent. There's no counting or stitches to memorize, so it's easy to pick up again if you've been interrupted. It's a good craft to get started with and broaden your crafting skills.
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