Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Better Understanding Felting Needles

What does the felting needle do?

The felting needle is a barbed needle used with unspun wool.  What is very interesting is that wool has scales on it. So with the barbs on this needle, it grabs the scales on the wool and tangles it.  This causes the wool to create a dense material known as felt, which allows you to sculpture the wool into anything your imagination can dream up.
US Dept. of Agriculture
Magnified pic. of wool showing the scales.

Although felting needles are industrial strength, they are very delicate and can break very easily if used incorrectly. Make sure you are always inserting and removing the felting needle at the same angle.

Let’s talk about Shape, Size and Color …..

You will hear about felting needles referred to with a number.  This is the gauge.  The gauge is the diameter of the needle.  The higher the number, the finer the needle.

When you start a needle felting project, you would start with a coarser needle and work your way up to a finer needle for finishing.

Felting needles also come in different numbers and shapes.  You will hear the shapes referred to as triangle and star.

The triangle blade has 3 sides with barbs on all 3 sides. 

The star blade has 4 sides with barbs on all 4 sides.  The star blade is the needle with the most barbs, which means it will grab more wool with each poke.

You will also see needles referred to with #40 followed by 3x3x3  3” or 38 2x2x2x2 3”.  Now this is not a math problem.  It simply means that it is a size 40 gauge needle with 3 barbs on 3 sides and is 3” long.  The second example is a set of numbers shown that is a size 38 needle there with 4 sides making it a star needle with 2 barbs on each side and is 3” long.

Dream Felt has a color-coding system that makes it easier to grab the correct felting needle when working.  You will also notice that we also have happy little hearts and flowers that creates a nice end to hold while felting. T here is no universal color-coding for felting needles.  It sure would make it easy!  So if you were to purchase needles from other suppliers and they are not marked, you can also color code your needles with nail polish or craft paint.

36 - Triangle (black) This is my core wool needle.  I use this mostly for all my core wool work and for quick, fast needle felting.  If you are looking to attach parts, this is the needle you want to use.  This needle is 3.5 inches long and wonderful for tangling the fiber deep. 

38 - Star (red) is used for general work.  I consider this my workhorse.  The star point has 4 edges meaning more barbs, therefore pulling more fibers.

40T - Triangle (yellow) is used for fine details and surface finishing.  When creating eyes, this is the perfect needle. This is the final needle I use on all my projects.

These 3 size needles above are the most important and the basic needles when you are first starting to needle felt.  As you progress in needle felting, you will hear about the reverse needle and the spiral/twisted felting needles, and reverse (inverted) felting needles as well.

34 Triangle (green) and 32  Triangle (orange)
Great needles for starting your projects when using coarser core wool and for attaching parts.

Spiral Needles
36 Star (green) 38 Triangle (purple) and 40 Triangle (blue)
The barbs on these needles twist around the end.  This makes them felt quickly and gives a neat finish minimizing the surface holes you can get with other needles.  These needles are now becoming the favorite
amongst needle felters!

Reverse Needles have barbs that are pointed in the opposite directions. Instead of pushing the fibers inward, it pulls them out.  This needle is great for creating a fuzzy look.  So it’s important to remember whatever color you have underneath is going to be pulled through the top layer of wool.

Any question, please feel free to contact us at: dreamfelt@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. Very useful info. I want to try the spiral needle next :)


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