A Question about Crown felting needles

A Question about Crown felting needles

A couple of days ago I was watching an online demo of Needle Felting Faces done by Marie from living felt out of Texas. She was using one of the new firmer wool felting mats (it looks similar to the ironing felt mats). She was using a 42Triangle (42T) needle. She said she chose this needle because she wanted to “have the fiber sit on top of the picture and not underneath”. I am not sure if she is using a triangle needle with 3 barbs per side (a 42T 333) or only 2 barbs per side (a 42T 222). A T42-333 would be more aggressive at moving fiber than a T42-222.

I asked in the chat; “Since you are focusing on adding the wool mainly to the surface have you tried a 40 or 42 Crown needle? A crown needle has the barbs very close to the tip of the needle so works with little (depth of) poking.” I did not get an answer from Marie but it started a side conversation about Crown needles with a European felter in the chat.

I was surprised that Crown needles were not well known. They have been available for a few years; at fiber festivals, online and if you are lucky at the local fiber arts stores.  I am sure most of you have bumped into them but may not have had the opportunity to try them out.

Let’s look at where they come from, the working parts of the needle, why would you want one and what is it good for?

Where the Crown needle comes from;

One of the manufacturers of felting needles is Groz-Beckert, who classifies crown and fork needles as “Structuring” needles.  A Structuring needle works on “structuring previously bonded nonwoven fabric” in a machine to produce a Velvety or grainy surface texture. They are designed originally to plunge through the felt pulling fibers to the opposite side as can be seen in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWE4tvHF0xU

As felters we tend to look at items not originally intended or designed for felting and turn them into felting tools. Bubble wrap, lids of Tupper wear jugs, pool noodles, garden kneeling pads and we look at the industrial felting needles and go “AH!! I could do this with them instead!”  In this case, instead of pushing fiber to the far side of the felt and through creating a surface texture, we can reduce the depth we work at and secure fibers close to the surface of your work.

Crown Needle diagram1) a close up of the end of a Crown needle.  https://www.groz-beckert.com/mm/media/web/3_felting_1/bilder_14/composings_3/FN_Composing_23.jpg

Parts of a felting needle 2) Parts of a felting needle

How the needle works and the structure of the needle

Let’s review how a felting needle works. As the needle enters the fibers/felt, its barbs (notches in the needle which can vary in number and placement along the working part of the needle) grab some of the fiber and as it is inserted drags the fiber with it into the felt.  Since the barbs are one directional the fiber carried by the barb stays at the depth it was pushed as the needle is removed. This repeated entanglement creates felt. The felt can be a 2D picture, a 3D sculpture or industrially the needles can create the non-woven fabric used to line the trunk or cover the door panels of your car.

With the Crown needle, the bards are located very close to the tip of the needle and are arranged one per each working side (3 working sides in a triangular needle). This means the working depth is the distance from the tip to where the barbs engage and entangle fiber into the web (felt ground). So on my crown needles, it’s about 1/4th of an inch. There are different styles of tips and different lengths of barbs so there can be a bit of variation if you look at the industrial options. But overall, the distance from the first barb to the tip is very close compared to other types of needles.

Where did I find mine?

Ann and I were both curious a few years ago and I bought a box of the Crown 40-111 from Doer out of china. The price for the needles (500 in a box) was good but the shipping cost was a bit painful (but still cheaper than a flight to China and buying them there!). At present, there are listings for 40, 42,43, and 46 gauge Crown needles from Doer. Groz-Beckert’s PDF lists Crown needles in gauges from 25 to 46. Some of the Groz-Beckerts range would likely not be useful to us but is an impressive amount of options!  With both companies, the working part is triangular as you can see in the last picture from the group below.

box of 500 Crown needles3) box of 500 Crown needles

the designations for the 40gauge crown needles I purchased4) the designations for the 40gauge crown needles I purchased

needle are wrapped in bundles within the box5) needle are wrapped in bundles within the box

close up of one of the needles6) close up of one of the needles

For part of the surface decoration on the iris flower, I used crown needles individually and in groups of 2 or 3 held together with a small rubber hair elastic.

using crown needles to add detail to the Iris petals, note the shallow angle I was working at7) using crown needles to add detail to the Iris petals, note the shallow angle I was working at

Why would I want a crown needle and what do they do?

When you want to affect the surface of your felting, you can try the crown needles and/or you can change the angle that you are inserting the needles. A very shallow angle, (almost parallel with the felt surface) will keep the barbs from going through a thin petal or 2d picture.

With a crown needle, there is a reduced distance the needle needs to travel to engage the fiber and secure it into the web.  This reduction in range of movement may reduce some of the strain on the body during the movement of felting, especially if the movement is slower and involved a more careful insertion of the needle. That said you will further reduce your likelihood of muscle fatigue or injury if you also remember to take (Stretch) breaks or let your bladder help remind you to take breaks by drinking liquids like ice tea or water. It’s not a good idea to ignore your bladder when it asks you to stop felting!

Gauge vs fiber size

As the gauge of the needle gets bigger, say a 40 crown vs a 46 crown the fiber diameter/fineness that will be most effective with the needle will change. A 46 crown needle will work better with finer fibers. Conversely, a larger courser fiber may not engage or be grabbed effectively by the finer needles and barbs. Fine needles will also leave less surface distortion than a larger needle. Sometimes if you are getting large dents when using fine needles, it may be more a matter that you just need to keep felting until the entire surface is evenly compacted, all at the level of the original dents. That said a finer needle and/or a shallow angle of insertion will also reduce the dented texture on a surface.

Conclusion

Depending on the project, you will likely have a couple of favourite needles you keep picking up. It may even be the same needles you gravitate to over many projects. So why, if you don’t already have crown needles, mite you want to consider adding another needle type to your collection? Their ability to work at a shallow depth gives them an advantage over other needles whose first barb placement is farther away from the needle tip. Crown needles can be very useful in portraiture, very thin structures like petals or butterfly’s or adding detail to your wet felted vessels, hats or garments. Basically any time you don’t want fiber added to one side to show on the other. (This may also require a very shallow angle of insertion.)

A Crown needle may not be the needle you reach for the most in your needle felting but when you want to work superficially, it is an excellent option to consider adding to your choices of tools.

 

If you are still curious and want to know more about other needles that are available in the industry you may enjoy looking through this PDF from Groz-Beckert.

https://www.groz-beckert.com/mm/media/en/web/pdf/Felting_and_structuring_needles.pdf

 

possibly for my next post; Mr. Mer has been digging through the fiber Bernadette brought in to a library day to see if I could find some acceptable (to Mr. Mer), Mer hair.

22 thoughts on “A Question about Crown felting needles

  1. A lot of useful information Jan thanks.
    I hadn’t got to thinking about what crown needles were originally used for industrially. I buy my needles from Wingham and do have some crown needles. Originally they just described them as normally used to insert “hair” into dolls’ heads. There is a lot more information on this page now, but unfortunately they only have one size of needle and don’t specify which. https://www.winghamwoolwork.co.uk/felting-needles-crown.html.
    Ann

    1. Thanks Ann! its always good to have a few more tools or techneeks just in case you need them. i think Heidi Feathers is UK badsed, i have bought needles from her before (if i remember correctly she has Groz-Beckert sorced needls that are vary nice. Ann and i havnt had much luck with getting priceing info out of the american branch of that company. i found Heidi selling off etsy and amazon. i just checked it looks like she can be found on Facebook, Amazon, Ebay and Etsy. https://www.heidifeathers.com/)

      i too have seen doll-makers selling crown needles as Rooting Needles to add fine hair to there dolls.(Wate till they find out there are a ton more exciting needles thay can try out!!)

      i wish the resellers would give us more information on their needles. some of the amazon resellers particularly some of the ones out of china can be horrible, selling as “small medium and large” needles (meaning length since all may arrive as the same gauge). there are difent types of points, diferent barb spacings on the working part, difernt barb shapes and depths and numbers of barbs per side, as well as the different gauges and shapes to working part (Triangle, star, twist.) each variation changes the needle a bit making it more or less agressive at grabing wool. jsut looking at barb spacing can requier more or less depth as you insert the needle to engage fiber into the base you are working on. its not a big difernce if you poke once but it becomes more important when i took a day of poking to get the pettals firm and thin. (OK wet felting would have been faster but it is wet! and i wanted to know how thin i could go with needles only.)

      i hope this breef revew was helpfull and that you have a second sorce to check out for needle aquisition, at least untill your regular suply starts adding a bit more info to the needles they are selling.
      have fun and keep felting!

    2. Thanks for the link to Heidi Feathers Jan. I’ve just spent ages ploughing through her stock and am particularly delighted to find glass eyes there. It’s particularly difficult to get glass eyes that you can sew on/in to a needlefelted animal and Heidi seems to have quite a selection. So, what with needles and eyes, that’s where this year’s birthday money is going!

  2. Really interesting read – thank you Jan, I had no idea crown needles existed, not sure I want to buy 500 though!

    1. thanks!! yes 500 seems like a lot but i was going to share some with Ann and i figured others in the area may like to buy some too. (then a pandemic hit!) i also bought a box of 36T-333’s which i have used over a quorter of the box some of them went with students when i was teaching. so 500 isnt always as many as it sounds! i am looking at doing another needle order and am just watching for whats avalible. i am starting to think that the Doer needles are industiarl overruns since what is avalible changes.

  3. This was really interesting Jan. I’ve long admired your use of the felting needle but can better understand what you are doing now I know about the cown needles. I wasn’t aware of these and, although I don’t do alot of needle felting, I’ve just placed an order as I can see them being useful for certain applications. For anyone else in the UK you can buy these from Heidi Feathers via eBay in sizes 38 – 46

    1. thanks Karen! its always fun to find new tools!! Yes i Like Heidi’s Needles, i am prity sure she said she was getting hers from Groz-beckert which are very good needles.
      i was reading industry info a cuple years ago and there was wispered talk of new coating on needles to prolong there working life in macheens or alow the web to pass through the macheen faster. the new coated needles are now in production so it will be interesting to see if this makes a diference to hand needle felting. the difference may be too subtle for us to make use of or it may inprove the flexiblity when working around fine armatures and be helpfull. our options for tools have come a long way from a Triangle needle of indeterminate gauge but probubly a 36 or 38.

    2. I must admit I do pretty well with needles not breaking but then I don’t use them all the time. Interesting to hear they may be coating them to last longer. I’m a bit of a stickler for the 40 triangle but have been using 32s today to make pebbles from insulation fleece.

    3. Karen, Insilation wool!! COOL!! i bet ist a lot faster with a 32 than a 40 to make pebbles. i cant see making insilation out of fine wool ether so the 40 probubly would not be as efficent or efective an option as the 32. its good to have the rite tool for the job!! Have fun!!

  4. Very interesting, Jan! Thanks for sharing. I tend to simply use a “regular” needle and felt perpendicular to the work I’m doing, that keeps the felting shallow and compacts the outside whilst keeping the fibre inside squishy. A crown needle might be a very interesting addition to my repertoire!

    1. Thanks Leonor!
      my squishyest inside was when i used some Free from a sheep sheering demo (i was demoing spinning and was gifted a rather large durty Redo arcot sheep fleece that Ann carded and i helped.) that particular sheep had the springyest wool i have ever tryed to needle felt!!! it was greate for adding fast bulk but it did not felt down to a solid core. sometimes its the wool and not the needles that makes the challange!

      Regular can be so many difernt needles depending on who you talk to. i start with a 36T frequently so that mite be what i would consider regular. if you look at some of the amazon resellers from china selling by length, you will get a triangle but who knows what gauge it will be untill it arives. well i gess it could be a good suprize?

      it is so cool that we have an ever increasing option of tools (needles in this case) i hope we dont overwhelm the felters who are just starting. for them i would suggest a multy pack of needles with a few of each type and try them out, you dont have to buy a box of 500 of each!! but haveing options of gauges and shapes will give you more opertunity to try difernt types of needle felting, difernt fibers and see what there pashion take them!

      thanks for reading and have fun felting!!

    1. thanks Cindy, i found a shopping option on etsy that will ship to canada or the states(shipping is very resonable).
      https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/518075827/heidifeathers-crown-mix-felting-needles?gpla=1&gao=1&variation0=2631093948 the multy pack is vary tempting. (ok i caved!)
      i am curious about that 42 and the 46 gauge crown needles. i will let you know what i think after i get to play with them for a bit….maybe another Mer pet is needed? no get back to the minitor or finish Mr Mer’s Hair before he gets grumpy!!

  5. Very interesting information, Jan! I did a search a while back for high quality Felting needles, after watching several Living Felt episodes. Groz-B was the name that came up. I contacted them and a US rep got back to me. I purchased 2 (500 count) boxes; 38 cross stars, and 40T dur…supposed to be durable. I think they were around $150 ea, but compared to prices I saw for individual needles, I felt it was a bargain! (I have lots of them if anyone wants to give these a go sometime.) I’m definitely not that knowledgeable yet, but I am a stickler about my tools. I was really impressed with my Groz-B experience, and they shipped from Tennessee. 👍🏻

    Capi

    1. thanks Anonymous Capi!! i would very much like to get there price list and some of there opoins. there use to be an office in Montrial but i dont think they knew what to do with someome wanting to buy a box but didnt have a macheen to put the needles in. G-B definatly have a fabulous rep for quality and a huge scope of option in needles. i am curious about the “Secret coating” that would make a needle more resistant to brakeing with industial use. my Hubby is a hobby blacksmith so i can understand a little about mettal and fexiblilty.

      Congratulations on your excelent perchuses!! the 38 cross star will be fast compaired to a strate 38T needle.

      i am very curious how you find the feel of the 40T Dur. is it more flexible or is it stiffer/stronger since both quolitys mite prolong a needles life in a macheen. more flexible (without staying bent or brakeing) may make working around delicate areas where an armature wire is close to the serface easyer.(slowing down and not being so rushed helps too but its a hard thing to remember in the heat of the moment of creating felt sculptures!!!) thanks for the info on G-B they do seem to make the most sot after needles. Doer makes nice needles too but dosnt seem to have the scope of options that G-B dose i am starting to strongly suspect they are selling off over runs of orders of there needles.

  6. Great post Jan, I always learn something new from your posts. The crown needle sounds very useful for adding small details to felt pictures. I am happy to hear Mr. Mer is up and about. I hope he finds just the right shade of hair, you can never be too particular about your hair color 😉

    1. thanks Ruth! its always good to have more tools or techneeks avalible to you when your want to make something. if your curious there is a mixed pack of crown needles for sale that would give you a few difernt gauges to try without a huge investment. its through esty (i have no association with the celler other than i have perchused from her before) and the shipping is very resonable to both canada and the states.
      https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/518075827/heidifeathers-crown-mix-felting-needles?click_key=33025cbc2138acb92aae9c78f04adbca03ae98a8%3A518075827&click_sum=689de77b&ref=hp_rv-2

      Mr Mer has been wateing for the perfect hair he has a small bag of longish locks in shades of mostly greens that go nicely with his Northern Pike body. he has been very picky which is important when you are deciding on your hair. he is still debating styles (i dont think he has seen the super long Mohock on the drummer from the band Bucktick ask google image to show you “toll yagami hairstyle” jsut dont show Mr. Mer!!)

      personaly i am very fond of long hair, even braded its past my wast. for colour i am claming its going bond, its jsut a vary light and slightly greyed form of blond! [ grin! ]

  7. Thank you, you are a font of needle knowledge, and I really appreciate it. So looking forward to see Mr mer again too.

  8. Thank you for all that information. I had no idea there was so much variety out there in felting needles. I too, look forward to seeing Mr Mer with his new tresses!

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: