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Question: What needle is that? (Part 1)

Question: What needle is that? (Part 1)

I had another question about needles. This time it’s about keeping track of your needles.  On a positive note, if you have this problem you have enough needles to get them confused, Congratulations!!  For those of you who only have a few needles and don’t have the problem of keeping track of them, I should give you the opportunity to expand your collection and be part of this discussion!


Where we get our needles:

If you are not buying from one of the various original manufacturers of industrial needles (Groz-Beckert and others) you are likely dealing with a reseller of smaller quantities of needles.  Let’s start by looking at the options for needle acquisition.


If you prefer to go to the source you will get the best price per needle but do you really need 500 to 1000 (minimum order) of the same needle? (The shipping cost for a box or two of needles can be quite painful too!) If you are teaching, and supplying your students their needles for class, as well as doing your own felting projects, then you may go through 500 needles over a not unreasonable length of time. If you are only buying for yourself, I hope you are not breaking needles in quantities that make the purchase of 500 needles a financially good idea. (If you decrease your rate of insertion (speed) and are attentive to entering and exiting the felt at the same angle, it will save you a lot of needles, and will likely require fewer bandages!) (Also, I have a blog post I’m working on about safety implements for those who are either over enthusiastic in their stabbing or are still practising/perfecting their eye-hand coordination. My hand-eye coordination occasionally still goes wrong too!)

Felting Needles set in needle bed (in industrial needle felting macheen)  1) Groz-Beckert – needle board

Original manufacturers sell their needles mainly to people buying multiple boxes of 1000 to fit in their large industrial machines, used to make non-woven fabric.  New needles are needed when the barbs become worn or a new type of product is required. (Different needle shapes and gauges make different types of non-woven fabric and can run the web through the machine at different speeds. Groz-Beckert has more than 2,000 needle options when you look at all the variables.) As you can see from the picture above these needles are not colour-coded since they have to fit into the needle bed extremely precisely.  They have all their identification information on the end of their shipping/storage box.

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   2-4) Doer Needle boxes and Open box showing 100 needles wrapped in wax paper

One advantage of buying from one of the manufacturers will be, that you will hopefully have the entire needle code. This will give you more information about the needle and make it easier to get replacements when you are running low. The needles in the boxes above are from the Doer company and are wrapped in wax paper in groups of 100 needles all stored in a secure plastic box.

There is, unfortunately for us, a new trend with some manufacturers offering “added security” to their industrial customers. Instead of the helpful needle designation, they are adding “customer codes”. This is to cut down on industrial spying and fit with customers’ warehouse codes, which reduces getting mixed needles in the bed. Yes even in industry they can grab the wrong box of needles! “If needle types are mixed up and placed in a needle board, this can have a major impact on the end product. In a worst-case scenario, this can lead to instant needle breakage due to the needles being overloaded. The result is machine downtime, additional set-up time for equipping the needle boards, and scrap material, leading to increased costs.” Unfortunately, their solution may lead to less information for our resellers.

Buying from the manufacturer Pros: Cons:
Price; per unit cost is cheaper than resellers’ prices Price; minimum number of needles is usually 500 to 1000 of one needle size and style per box.  Also, a box and shipping can be quite pricy.
Information on needle specifications is usually on the storage box. For added security, ageist industrial spying some companies are dropping the standard “15x18x40x3 R222 G…” for “individualization” of package labels with no needle designations.
Companies not selling over-runs (from industrial orders) can sell you exactly the specifications you want, (overall length, working part shape,  gauge, barb type and spacing, and point type). Not all the manufacturers are interested in selling in “smaller quantities”, most have a 1 box minimum of each needle type purchased.
Keeping an eye on advances in the industry via the company’s websites, technical information or newsletters can keep you up-to-date with advances such as new coatings to prolong the working life of barbs or increases in the run speed of the machines. These innovations might be helpful to us if the needles have better flexibility while in use. Not everyone is excited about modification in barbs or reading technical papers.


a selection of needles offered by various resellers. showing that there is no comom colour sekeem to indicate the type of needle 5) Sample of some of the resellers, note that the colour systems are different for each re-seller.

 Many of the resellers of needles will colour code the crank of the needle to match their colour key of gauges and shapes. “Harrah, problem solved we can all have chocolate now to celebrate!”….. Not so fast, they are not all using the same colour key!!! So if you have more than one reseller you are dealing with, you need to know if this gold one is from Seller A or if the gold needle is from Seller B (or C or D or E….)? Unless you have only one source, you again can confuse what needle you are about to use.

Where can we find resellers?

Look for needles at Local stores, Fiber festivals and online at Amazon, Etsy, out of China and Mr. Google can help too.  Try to support local stores so we can keep having local stores, if you can’t find what you’re looking for then check farther afield.

Most of the resellers are felters and understand the needles they are selling. They can tell you about the uses of different gauges and the differences between different shapes of the working part.  Some can even explain the basic concepts of how the spacing and type of barb can change the enthusiasm of fibre moved by that needle.

Pros Cons
Re-Sellers Are usually colour-coded There is no consistency to the colours used between most vendors.
Most have a selection of the available gauges and working  part shapes May not have the number of barbs or the shape or gauge you wanted.
You can usually buy single or small quantities The cost is more per needle than buying a box of 500 or 1000
Cheap “Bulk Needles” sold in lots of 25, 50 or 100 Mostly don’t list gauge, actual length or number of barbs(“S, M, L”)
May not know the exact specification of the needle, other than the gauge so hard to get exactly the same needle.
A Gift Fabulous Free Needle(s)! My not come with gauge (S.M.& L)

Might forget the gauge in the excitement of new needles

Now we have had a brief overview of where we get needles (and have given everyone a chance to get too many to keep track of), we can return to our question, Which needle is this?


The Needle:

parts of a felting needle labled.(6) parts of a felting needle

Let’s consider the needle. By now, we are reasonably familiar with the parts of a needle. There is a wide variation in needles used in the industry, with over 2 thousand options from GB alone.  The most obvious difference is overall length. The most common Needles (Triangles) come in needle lengths: 2.5”, 3”, 3.5”, 4”, 4.5”, 5” (most needles we see are either 3” or 3.5”, occasionally a 2.5” turns up.) so that may not be too helpful for us. If you have the option to have different lengths for different gauges that may be helpful but most of us already have lots of needles and almost all of them are the same length.

Let’s look at the shape of the working part, where the barbs are located.  We can group our needles by shape reasonably easily. (Triangular, twisted/spiral, Star ether quod or tri, crown and the less common to uncommon; Conical needle, Teardrop, Vario barb and fork.) Unfortunately, the way we use them is by gauge, working from larger diameter-courser gauges to smaller-finer gauges, which is much trickier to guess by eye. While a 32g is drastically different when compared to a 42g, sorting a bunch of 40g’s from the 42g’s or 38g’s is much more challenging.

Let’s do a quick review of gauges (you can skip to the end if you have this memorized!)

  • Courser needles (32g and some people also list 36g)
    • for courser fibre,
    • move fibre more quickly,
    • good for building the under-layers of sculptures and used for adding appendages/parts.
  • Medium Needles (36g to 38g)
    • For medium fibre,
    • Not as aggressive fibre movement as the course needles,
    • Good for under layers of colour for a picture or more fine-tuning the shapes of a sculpture
  • Fine needles (40 to 42g)
    • For fine fibres
    • For the final layer or finishing work in both sculpture and pictures
    • Moves less fiber but creates less resistance and leaves less dent entering the felt
  • Extremely fine (46g)
    • For fine fibres
    • For the final layer or finishing work in both sculpture and pictures
    • Moves the least fibre, but creates the least resistance and leaves less dent entering the felt

Other needles that may be in your collection;

  • Reverse (36 to 42g) barbs pull fibre as the needle is extracted. Good for blending and for pulling up under-layer colours to create a nap on the surface.
  • Crown needles are easy to pick out with only one barb per side very close to the tip. They are excellent for shallow surface work or working on something very thin (pestle or wing membranes).

You may notice some resellers are less knowledgeable about what they are selling than others. I have found sellers, mostly on Amazon and from China, that describe their needles as “small, medium and large” which describes the length of the needle rather than the gauge. The ones I have seen with this listing have all been Triangle-shaped. Unless you are looking for an unidentified gauge it’s likely better to look at the ones that give you more information.

Part 2 will continue  on September 12 with  Keeping track of your Needle Gauges

Have a fabulous last long weekend of the summer, and the fall fibre festivals are just around the corner!! (except for those of you who are just about to come out of winter and begin  spring!!)

Thick with Green

Thick with Green

I have been busy trying to get pieces ready to go to the framers and I also needed to create my tree piece for the 3rd Quarter challenge, summer trees. Here’s the piece I created called Thick with Green. I am sorry about the quality of most of these photos. Somehow, many are blurry but at least the final few photos came out OK, my apologies.

Sketchbook Page with Painted Birch Trees in Summer

I was thinking about a thicket of birch trees from a distance with green leaves. The sketchbook page above was created in one of my art and design classes. I used this as inspiration.

For the background, I used a piece of nuno felt. The silk is on the back this time. I had some white yarn that I decided to couch down to make distant tree trunks.

Then being inspired by the leaves Ann M. used on her summer tree, I decided to try some variegated green cheesecloth. I tore it into pieces and stretched it to give a more organic feel. Then I hand stitched it in place. The stitching disappears into the cheesecloth.

Nuno Felt Green and Blue Background with Birch Tree Trunks.

Then I added more tree trunks. This time I twisted two pieces of the yarn together and couched them in place.

Nuno Felt Green and Blue Background with Birch Tree Trunks and Stitched Pieces of Cheesecloth for Leaves.

More cheesecloth was stitched down on top of these tree trunks. Now what to do with the ground? I feel like I am always saying that about my landscapes. I never seem to plan the ground very well in advance. I don’t do much needle felting but I decided in this case, it would work the best. I felt like stitching would be too detailed since this was supposed to be a more distant landscape.

Nuno Felt Green and Blue Background with Birch Tree Trunks and Stitched Pieces of Cheesecloth for Leaves, Grass Needle Felted at Base of Trees.

Here’s the grass added with a variety of green roving and needle felted in place.

Nuno Felt Landscape with Summer Birch Trees on Green Matte Ready to Frame.

Then I found I already had some green fabric that would work for the “matte”. I stitched the nuno landscape down and laced it around card. This piece ended up to be 8″ x 12″ and it’s ready to frame. Now to take all the pieces to be framed and then send them off to the gallery. Check, another task off my list.

The Bull

The Bull

We have three public houses in Sturminster Newton (at one time there were 11 in our small market town!) and The Bull Tavern is one of the oldest. The building consists mainly of a 3 roomed 17th Century cottage with an attic room, built of old timber infilled with wattle and daub. Some additions were made in the 18th Century. Records show that the cottage was definitely an alehouse by the late 1700s. Apparently there was a slaughter house at the rear and a Pound where straying animals were kept until collected – upon payment of a fee of 1 shilling (which must have been a fortune when you consider that a married man’s weekly wages at the Town’s Workhouse were all of 9 shillings and a single man’s only 6). Part of the C18th additions was a stable block (which eventually became a skittle alley and later part of the restaurant of the pub). It is rumoured that the horses stabled there were used to help get carriages and carts up the adjoining steep hill leading to Sturminster Common and the small community of Broad Oak.

The building, known to Thomas Hardy (one of our famous inhabitants) as The Old Bull Inn,  is shown on the earliest known map of the area dated 1783, as being part of the Pitt-Rivers Estate.  You can learn more about the Pitt-Rivers family here:

About 18 months ago, after our then favourite landlords moved from the White Horse Inn in Hinton St Mary, the pub was closed for refurbishment. Hinton is a village about 1.25 miles away, where the Pitt-Rivers manor house is situated.  We used to walk there 3 times a week – our exercise with benefits – but since the benefits had disappeared we decided to patronise The Bull – for our exercise of course.  The only trouble with that was that it’s uphill on the way home whereas it was down hill from the White Horse.

During that time we had come to enjoy the chats with Marianne and Lance, the Bull’s managers.  Lance being the very good chef, and Marianne “Front of House”.  Early in January 2021, they announced that on Christmas Day they had got engaged.

One of my felt paintings – commissioned by a mutual friend –  had been given to the White Horse landlords as a wedding present a few years ago, and Graham, my husband, suggested that I do something similar as a wedding present for Lance and Marianne.

Felt picture of sepia tint image of old public house
My interpretation of an early image of The White Horse, Hinton St Mary

Although The Bull itself is a very interesting building, I wondered if I should do a picture of an actual bull for them. No date had been set for the wedding at that time, but I thought I should at least start collecting reference pictures, both of the pub itself, including some of their Pub sign and of some animals. I thought about breeds that might have been around in the 16th Century – White Park Cattle and black Gloucesters; and also looked at Herefords since that was the breed on the Pub sign.

image of Bull Tavern sign with hereford bull above image of the public house
The Bull Tavern and it’s sign
image of black bull with winners rosettes and image of large white bull
Gloucester and Park White Bulls
image of hereford bull head, image of bull grazing, image of bull in field
3 Hereford Bulls. I eventually picked the one at top left.

In the end I decided on a Hereford bull. After a lot of thought and manipulation of pictures, and also starting on a background field for the bull to stand in, I still could not come up with a layout that I was happy with. One idea was to surround the image of the bull with cameo pictures of nearby local landmarks – the water mill and the mediaeval bridge – with perhaps an image of the pub itself as well.

Then, just after Christmas 2022, Marianne said that they had set the date for the wedding – 10th June 2023.  Now I had to get my ideas together and get on with it.  The picture would need to be simplified if I was going to get it done and framed in time.

It was about then that my picture of the horse on the hillside in Devon was finished and it occurred to me that I could use a similar method of producing a figure with more depth.

image of felted horse on background of trees and stream
Detail from my Glorious Devon picture showing the horse added to the finished landscape.

  I finally decided upon a cameo type picture of the bull’s head and shoulders and I would use the background which I had made back at the beginning of this saga.  I would paint (with wool) the shoulders and neck and outline of the head on to a piece of flat wet felted core fibres.  With a separate face and ears, and a further separate set of horns and the nose on another piece.  I would cut all of the pieces from the backing when these were substantially finished.  I would fix the torso and neck onto the original background and layer on the face and ears, horns and nose, then I would do the final titivating and framing.  I made a start and here are the initial progress pictures:

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As I said earlier, it was intended that this picture would be a wedding present for Lance and Marianne, but at the beginning of April this year, they told us that, because of various unforeseen difficulties arising out of successive pandemic lockdowns (which included them catching Covid between lockdowns so having to shut the pub again)  they had decided to give up the tenancy of the pub.  They had obtained a job, with accommodation, managing a Touring Caravan Park in Cornwall.  Marianne was leaving almost immediately and Lance would stay on for a couple of weeks, with his last trading day on the 19th April.  So the picture was going to have to be a leaving present.

That caused a bit of a panic at home as you can imagine, so I had to get my head down and finish it NOW!  These were the final steps;

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I managed to finish the picture and, with Graham’s help, I mounted it in a deep box frame in time to hand it over to Lance on the 19th, when we went in for a final lunchtime meal.

So here’s the completed and framed picture – my entry for the 2023 Third Quarter Challenge – Something Special About Our Town.

image of felted bull head and torso on a field and sky landscape in wooden box frame
Finished and framed.
Dose the twisted needle twist as it goes into the wool?

Dose the twisted needle twist as it goes into the wool?

Recently I was asked more questions about needles. (I do love finding out about needles, how they are used in industry and how we use them by hand. I hope you still have a bit of curiosity about them too, after all my enthusiastic chatting!) To answer the second question, I still want to get my hands on a forked needle (how can I be fair in my investigation if I don’t actually get my hands on one?) A quick review, In industry there are two types of structuring needles. Structuring needles are not technically felting needles (since they don’t make the felt) but are used to create surface texture on non-woven material.  One is the Forked needle, and the other is a crown needle (which we have chatted about before. If you don’t remember that chat you will find it here;    Since I have not had success locally finding a fork needle, let’s turn to the other question about needles. It involved one of the Needles found in the group of needles which do make the industrial Felt.

Does the twisted (also called a spiral) needle twist as it goes into the wool?

Ok, this is a question about mechanics, and how the needle works.  So let’s review the parts of a triangle needle and compare that to the twisted / spiral needle.

diagram of parts of a regular felting needle and a spiral felting needle1)Parts of a regular felting needle and parts of a spiral needle

We can see that all the usual parts are present with a spiral / twisted needle. The difference is in the working part. you can see both clearly have a triangular cross section in the working part but the spiral/twisted needle has that triangular shape rotating in the cross section through the working part.

diagram of a twisted needle close up2) Twisted Needle showing close up of working part

Let’s have a quick review of what shapes are most common in the cross section of the felting needles most often used by hand needle felters. Our most common shape is the triangle, but the 3 and 4-sided stars are also quite available. While some are not as common, there is a spiral or twisted versions of each of the three main shapes.

Common Cross sections of working parts of main felting needles3) Common cross-sectional shapes of felting needles

Let’s go back and look specifically at the spiral or twisted shaped needle. If you look at the cross-section of the spiral at various spots, you can see that it is a triangle rotating around a central point.

4) Cross sections of a twisted needle across section of the working part   5) Looking from the tip up the needle through the segments shows how the tip of the triangle changes position up the length of the working section. (i have updated diagram 5 to more clearly show the location of each edge.)

As you know with all needles, the barb is located on the edge of the needle. With most needles, the barbs are located vertically, one above the other, along each edge. There will be one, two or three barbs per side depending on the specifications for that needle.

The exceptions, for vertically stacked barbs, at present are; the Crown needle (which only has one barb per edge), the fork needle (that has no barbs and a cylindrical shaft) and the spiral needle (whose barbs follow the curve of the needle’s edge).  The last exception to the vertical barb rule, is more of a technicality; the conical needles has barb aligned vertically but because of the taper in the working part, it will engage fibre laterally (we can chat about that further in another note. If you are curious?)

So as the spiral/twisted needle is inserted into our felt how is it engaging the fibre it catches in its barbs?  it is grabbing segmentally as each barb enters the web of fibre. It will create more of a circular Spiral of engagement rather than the three barb points a regular triangle needle will engage.

Here are two ways to visualize how the needle’s barbs are grabbing the fibres as they enter the web. As you know the barb will engage (grab) the fibres it encounters which will be at or close to the surface of the felt web of fibres. For clarity of the diagram, I have had the barbs that are deeper in the web engaging with fibre closer to the barb. If I had more correctly illustrated the crossing fibres, which the barbs are affecting, all the fibres would be at or near the surface layer(and the diagram would be a confusing-looking mess!)

diagram of how barbs on sides 1 to 3 interact with fibers as the needle is inserted6) How each barb distorts the web in a different position as the needle is inserted

I am hopeful you can see the spiral engagement of one edge, then the next, then the third. I have added colours (Red, Purple and black) to the edges to try to make it easier to see how the spiralling of the triangle shape interacts with the order of the barbs as they encounter the fibres.

Here is another way of looking at the order of engagement of the barbs around the centre of the needle.

Diagram the order of barb engagement as the needle is inserted into the felt7) The order of barb engagement


A few more particulars about Spiral Twisted needle

If you read the technical details on the Groz-Breckert site, (one of the needle manufacturers, this one headquartered in Germany) you can find that Spiral/twisted needles are available in:

  • gauges from 38G to 42G
  • Length of 3 or 2.5 inches
  • Usually has 2 barbs per side, but only one barb style is common
    • has a modified barb arrangement (spiral location around the needle)
    • the needle placement gives higher fibre engagement
    • the needle is a bit stronger from barb placement (in the felting machine, both the “machine direction” (8%) and to a lesser degree “cross direction”(4%).)  It may be a bit less prone to breakage with small vector changes if used by hand!  it would still be better to try to go out at the same angle that you inserted the needle.
    • it is listed as having more chance of splitting fibres when using microfibers (we should be ok we tend to take our frustrations out on natural fibres such as wool, silk, alpaca, dog or cat hair)
  • Fiber transport is listed as “Substantially Higher” for a twisted needle, rather than a regular (triangular) needle (of the same gauge and barb shape).
    • It can move about 10% more fibre than a standard felting needle with the same barb dimensions. (It is More Aggressive when compared to the same gauge and barb style of a standard needle)
  • Uses industrially are; Automotive sector (visible areas such as trunk lining and other non-woven surfaces) and Filtration fabrics.

Doer Needles from China sample of 38G Spiral needle8) Doer Industries (China) 38G-222 Triangular Spiral (they also have 40G-222 with the same barb spacing.)

Hand Needle Felting Uses;

  • Good fibre movement(more than a Triangle needle of the same gauge and barb type)
  • Good for compacting fibre or generalized initial sculpting. You may find it a bit aggressive for fine detail at larger gauges. Try a finer gauge if you find it more aggressive than you desire.
  • Used on a sharp angle (surface work), good for catching loose fibres that need embedding
  • Good with short fibres will grab and embed them quickly
  • If you require a 42G needle but don’t have the patents that such a fine gauge requires, a 42G Spiral needle may be for you. (it’s a little bit faster!)

Watch for;

  • May not be as effective when multiple needles of this type are used close together (held together with an elastic or some holders with close spacing) you may find with medium to longer fibres you are trying to engage the same fibre with adjacent needles

Let’s consider the question, “So, Dose the twisted needle twist as it goes into the wool?” What do you think so far?

I know you will remember that the needle itself is descending in a straight line, it is not moving other than in one vector (up and down in this depiction). There is no rotational component of insertion necessary. The movement of the needle descending into the fibre is creating the spiral engagement (grabbing) of the fibres. So technically, the needle is not turning in a spiral but the engagement of the fiber is interacting in a spiral. Each barb has not rotated but descending in a straight line. The fibre cot by the barb is also descending in a straight line, but as each barb above it engages fibre it will be grabbing a bit that is offset from the barb below it. This gives an illusion of spiralling while engaging a more even amount of fibre surrounding the needle than a regular triangular needle would (with barbs stacked vertically in 3 spots). So the answer would be “the needle no but the fibre looks like it is from the surface but is actually not.” Well, now you are likely disappointed after such a long explanation. But there is one more thing to consider.

That being said, it is possible to turn a needle as you insert it into the felt. Rotating the needle can be used to grab flyaway fibre, or catch something that is loose on the surface. It involves rolling the needle between the thumb and first finger. This is not a good long-term technique since it is engaging little muscles that get tired more quickly than larger muscles and can be strained easily when compared to larger muscle groups. Instead of spinning a triangle needle trying to grab fibre, you may find that a Spiral/Twisted needle is a bit easier to engage loose fibre.

I hope this gives you an overview of the spiral or twisted needles. Their a bit more aggressive than an equivalent triangular needle,  so they may be helpful for finer gauge work if you are not patent. I hope, if you get the opportunity, you will try them for 2D or 3D felting.

PS; the needles will work without having to know all the details of how they work, but knowing may give you creative ideas and inspire you to use them to solve challenges while you’re felting. Even better, I did not add any exam questions at the end!!!


Summer tree Finished.

Summer tree Finished.

Thankfully I have friends with grey wool. Jan and Bernadette found me some grey in many shades so I could complete my picture. I explained to both that I only needed a little bit, a handful would be more than was needed. I just needed it for a few rocks on my picture

Picture of wool

picture of me taking a picture
I didn’t take any progress pictures of the rocks. I was busy poking and talking.

And finally the finished picture, or so I thought. when you take a picture, you can see so much more sometimes. I really don’t like the roots over the rock. I had tried putting a rock in front of the tree but that looked worse. So, I will take the roots off and continue from there.

I managed to take the roots off and played with the rock some more and now I think it really is done.

Safty First; a look at wool

Safty First; a look at wool

I am still not up to the next step in the phone-carrying project, mega-stega-blob (fibre layout and wet felting come next). No, I am not just avoiding getting wet! I have tried to do non-offensive activities beyond lying down, watching movies and reading my audiobook (mostly not all at the same time). Monday I got to the guild studio and worked on the library (the books felt heavier and more tome like than usual.) Tuesday I pulled photos then pulled weeds, while sitting and started my blog chatting with you! Since I am still waiting for a few items from Aliexpress to arrive, (they may be in a literal slow boat from China) I think I should consider a few other aspects of the topic they will cover. (Ooh I’m being verbose, cryptic and obscure! I am defiantly feeling better!)

Recently I have had a few different questions about aspects of safety. I want to chat about how to keep you and your needles safely not attached to each other, by stabbing, poking and other forms of impalement. I have been making a chart of the different types of options and want to also test them, with Ann, with the enthusiastic needle felting tools we both purchased last winter. The chart is underway, but with more possible safety items on their way, let’s wait on that aspect of safety.

Instead, let’s turn from the sharp pointy blood-inducing excitement of needles to something softer that can also be dangerous to felters. Wool (and other fibres).  What could be dangerous,  concerning or even caution inducing about wool? It’s so soft and fluffy! It has that lovely sheepy aroma when it’s fresh off the sheep. Sometimes it’s even still warm if it’s really fresh off the sheep.

skirting a fleece. 2 sets of hand pick through part of a fleece sitting on a table. skirting dirty raw wool at the OVWSG studio.

Ok you can get muscle aches or strains washing it, wet wool is quite heavy and moving big bins of water around can defiantly get painful. When I phoned my doctor to mention my tetanus shot was due and I was about to wash a bunch of dirty sheep fleece, she had me come in the next day to get my booster.  (This was near the start of covid when restrictions were most enthusiastically applied, so I was very surprised at how insistent she was that I should come into the office and have the tetanus shot before working with dirty wool.  I would rather be safe than sick or sorry. Even if it means getting the other kind of needle.)

Most of us avoid any thoughts of buying aromatic wool, tetanus or the fun of skirting a fleece by just purchasing prepared fibre, usually even pre-died.

So if you are avoiding working with raw wool in your endeavours, have we avoided all potential problems with wool? No, but don’t rush off to throw out your fibre horde of fabulous feeling fibres and colours!!  The precautions for wool are quite specific and can be mitigated. As you probably remember I love anatomy, physiology and pathology.  I know not everyone is quite so excited about how it all works or how it all can go wrong!  So I will not get into the details of alveoli to capillaries’ oxygen exchange (whew, I bet you are breathing a sigh of relief and thankful there is no exam at the end of this post!!)  You are likely already aware but I do want to mention a bit about the historical problem with the wool-to-yarn industry.

For many activities or professions, there is a pathology associated with it.

  • Tennis has Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis),
  • golfers can get golfers elbow (medial epicondylitis) or
  • Weavers can get Weavers bottom, (a false bursa on the ischial tuberosity). Weavers get their pathology from many hours of rocking side to side while sitting on a hard loom bench.

By the time of the industrial revolution and the introduction of large mills, we see a rise of a pathology with wool (Wool Lung) and a slightly different one (Byssinosis) associated with breathing in cotton dust or dust from other vegetable fibres such as flax, hemp, or sisal. This was exacerbated by working with the fibres in enclosed, poorly ventilated areas (the mill buildings) for long periods of time (working for years, at 6 work days a week).

The pathology wool lung is neither as cozy nor warm as it sounds. (Wool lung sounds like someone kindly wrapped your lungs in a soft fluffy blanket of wool.) The way the pathology works is that small airborne particles lodge in the lung. Over time these partials make breathing increasingly difficult and interfere with the lung’s ability to bring air into the body. A similar problem can develop with breathing in dust from other vegetable fibres.  If you are a weaver look under the loom after you have woven a tea towel with tow linen, (for non-weavers, you probably have a lot of dust and bits of broken fibre under the loom to clean up.)

There is another potential problem with wool, (even if you skip working in an early industrial mill, and avoid raw fleece processing), is the nature of the fibre and its ability to get airborne. Think of it as the quality of fluffability. Finer fibres, shorter fibres and older brittle fibres that can break into even smaller pieces will all become airborne more easily than courser, heavier, and longer fibres.  I have found that I have the most airborne fibre particulate from older dry short fibres. Fine fibres that attract static can also be problematic.

Grater fluffatude: Fibers and parasitical are more likely to get airborne.

  • Finer,
  • shorter,
  • older fibres that are dryer and prone to breakage,
  • dusty fibres

less fluffiness: are Less likely to get airborne

  • course,
  • longer,
  • less fragile fibres

In my stash, I have many types of fibre. Some are brand new and recently acquired and some are quite old, second-hand acquisitions or appreciated gifts of often unknown age. I have a few bits in the fibre stash that are brittle and quite suspect but are just the colour I wanted. So if I don’t want to just avoid using fibre that I suspect may have nefarious plans for my health, there are ways to keep us safer. (Re; not wanting to throw away fibre may require Fiber AAA: I have trouble throwing out wool, I know it’s a problem but the first step is to admit it is a problem.)

Most fibre we use is not a problem or is only mildly so. If we have decided to keep a fibre we know or suspect is problematic, that the fibres are likely to get mobile and try to end up in our lungs, what should we do to reduce this possibility?

There are a few things we can do to mitigate getting fibre, dust, and bacterial content from the fibres, into our lungs.

Keep the fibre from getting in the lungs: (its so much nicer when wool is on the outside of the body)

  1. Protect your lungs. We all have N95 masks from the pandemic. There are also wonderful repertory masks, with even finer particulate-blocking abilities. (They are more industrial looking and are not as stylish as the blue medical ones from covid). (There is more about this at the end of the blog)
  2. Improve ventilation. This can be working in an outside studio (when weather permits), or using a good air filter if you are working in a smaller indoor studio. I would not suggest an oscillating fan near your fibre work to improve air circulation, that can go terribly wrong –think parts of your 2-D picture can decide to just wander off as the fan turns farther than you thought it was set to turn!!! I guess that mountain was not inclined to be there, (like the Frank slide the mountainside got up and left!) we will now have to add a grassy plane or maybe more sky?
  3. Label your stash, if you cannot part with something that is problematic, (but the colour, crimp, or lustre is just too good to part with) label it or leave a paper mask with the bag so you will remember to avoid getting wool on the inside of your body.
  4. Be aware of which fibres are likely to get airborne (short, brittle, older, or finer) and protect yourself if those are the fibres you need to use in your projects.
  5. Check with your Doctor, If you are going to be working with raw wool or doing fibre prep, of wool or other fibres, you may want to check your tetanus shot is up to date. We used old slightly rusty hackles when processing flax and I have never seen a sheep have a thorough bath before getting their haircut! So, I suspect the enthusiasm of my doctor to make sure I had mine was not just her wanting to stab me with a needle. (really I don’t bug her very often!)
  6. Reduce static: Ann had a spray bottle to mist fibre as she used her big drum carder. This reduced static and thus reduced the amount of fly-away fibre. Misting wool, if you are needle felting, may be problematic if you get the wool too wet. Wet wool can reduce the life of the needle.  I have heard that leaving a dryer sheet, (or a piece of cloth that had been soaked in fabric softener (unscented) and left to dry will work) will reduce the static in fine loose fibres like angora rabbit.
  7. Use the weather to help you. (this is probably more of a sub-point to #6 (maybe 6.1) but it’s nice to have lots of options) Use the weather to help you keep the fibres in line. if it’s humid, as it tends to be in parts of our summers, fibre is not as likely to get airborne as it will if the humidity drops which happens in our winters.
  8. read #1 again and don’t forget to wear a mask if you are working with problematic fibres.

Masks a quick overview of options:

Dust mask, medical blue mask and fiber Dusk mask, medical mask and 3 types of fibre (Short turquoise, older dry brown top and unwashed short locks)

Masks come in various options, from large full-face and half-face air filtering masks, (they look very cool and Sci-Fi but may not be the strong fashion statement you wanted to make while working.) I have a half-face mask with the lovely double respirators but took it to a workshop and now I can’t find where it is.  If you ask Mr. Google to show you a “Half face woodworking respirator mask” you can see ones similar to what I picked up at Princess Auto on sale. There are other options that are less striking in their fashion statement in case your workspace may be visible to others. (this may be a good option if you have preexisting respiratory issues.)

I also have what used to be sold as a painter or dust mask (possibly for automotive painting?) the Dollar Store used to have them regularly. They hold the mask away from the nose so are more comfortable for some people.

"Dust mask" in packaging N95 designation “Dust mask” in packaging N95 designation

You may still have the blue paper filter masks that were very popular (or unpopular in parts of Canada and the States). I was ahead of the crowd and had one hanging by my office desk for use with old dry wool well before covid arrived.  I have since used up all the masks I had for work and for wool, stupid covid.

edge of blue 3 layer paper medical mask and short wool fiber in blue/green colour Short fibre, this particular fibre is standing in for some of the equity short but much more fly away fibre that is hiding in the basement and would not come out for the photo shoot.

Not all fibre has this problem, in fact, most do not, but if you bump into some that make your nose twitch and your Kleenex seems an odd colour when you sneeze (the colour of the wool you’re working with) then its time to grab a mask, improve the ventilation, use an air filter in your studio or use the outside studio, and reduce the static/lack of humidity.  Once the offensive fibre is well embedded in your wet or dry felting, it should not be a danger to us or others, being that it is no longer airborne. (Well, unless you are using some fabulous aroma added to your felting work and there is a lot of wool sniffing going on!) hummmm….. no don’t get distracted!

I am hopeful I will be back to the Mega-Stega-Blob soon! Have fun, stay healthy and keep felting.

Adding leaves to my summer tree.

Adding leaves to my summer tree.

The next step to do for my summer tree is to get it some leaves. I decided I wanted some texture so thought I would use some silk fabric to make some needle felted nuno felt.

I found some of my boxes of fabric and had a rummage for some green I found mostly silk and some stuff labelled nylon which is a very good imitation of silk.

The green and brown was my first thought but best to try them all.

I pulled out my sampling tree. The one that looks like a peg having a bad hair day. 😉

I then thought maybe I could put the dark fabric down and then add some other fibre on top. the dark fabric is the nylon. It’s a very loose weave so it pulls threads when you poke it.

I tried adding some loose threads but they just looked messy. I think they would make great vines in a swampy picture

I decided it was a waste of fabric to put the dark green down first It would be too hard to leave some showing properly and it would prevent any of the branches from showing.

On to the real tree, I did fiddled with the branches in the middle and it does look better naked. Not that much of it will show but still, it was good practice.

I tried adding it all as one piece but I couldn’t scrunch it properly. So I pulled it off.

I added the silk in small amounts

and all done, I left a few holes for the sky and a few branches peek through. I left the edged raggy to add to the texture.




And here’s the finished overall look. I like the overall look. I am going to have to fiddle with the roots. Combined with the slant of the land, they are making the tree look like it’s leaning over. I think a little poking in on one side and poking out on the other should fix it. I am going to have a look for the wool I used for the grass portion of the background to maybe put a little over the roots. I will have to do some googling for pictures of roots.

Next, I think I will add some rocks around the roots and maybe a few around the field in the thin spots. Then maybe some tufts of grass with stitching.  I may fiddle with the cloud too. I am still thinking.

Guest Artist – Diane Coe

Guest Artist – Diane Coe

This is a guest post from Diane Coe, one of our readers, who recently submitted a photo for our 3rd Quarter Challenge. Thanks for sharing Diane!

My name is Diane Coe and I live in Featherston, New Zealand. I started being creative at a young age. Drawing, painting, and learning to knit from my Granny. I used to make tiny felt mice and exhibit them at a local annual art show as a young teen. Later on in life, in the 80s, I discovered Leadlight and produced for markets and made windows for houses. Then I progressed to Mosaics which I enjoyed for a while. I discovered a local felting group in 2014, and have been hooked ever since. Mainly I use wet felting with some needlefelt.
Sign of The Last Call of the Ruru
I was inspired to create Te Karanga Whakamutunga Ote Ruru (The Last Call of the Ruru (Morepork) from Maori Folklore, in which the Ruru is regarded as a guardian. With much of our planet being endangered, I wanted to portray the Ruru guarding the NZ Bush as a last call, as time is running out unless there is a change and more protection.

I wet felted the background and then needle felted, adding wool roving and balls of wool recycling from Op shops. The Kiwi is a scrap of possum fur. I spread out all my colours and fibres and picked up pieces to needlefelt as I went along, choosing what would work best for what I wanted to portray in each piece of the picture.

Close up of the felted picture of the Ruru

This close up photo shows more details of the intricate work.

There is hidden in the picture a Powelliphanta (native NZ giant snail). The piece took months to complete and is framed in native Totora farm posts.

Wool painting by Diane Coe, The Last Call of the Ruru

This is the photo that I submitted of the piece for the Third Quarter Challenge. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Here I am in my studio, creating another landscape.

Friend of Diane Coe holding portrait of dog created by Diane Coe with dog sitting opposite.

I have created other pictures like the portrait of my friends dog.

Diane Coe with felted attire with hat.

I have also entered recently a national competition in NZ called WoolOn, in which you can enter anything wool. It will be on the Catwalk and judged later in August 2003. Felting is a beautiful artform and a wonderful natural product. There is always so much to learn and create with.


Thanks so much Diane for telling us about your felting journey. 

If you would like to submit a photo for one of our challenges, you can do so here. If you are interested in telling us more about yourself and your fiber art, we would love for you to write a guest post. Just fill out the Contact Us form to let us know of your interest. 

Whenever Showering, You Need Soap!

Whenever Showering, You Need Soap!

photo layout. shows 6 felted wool, bars of soap, flowered accents applied to top of each
A sampling of 6 felted bars.

This title made me chuckle. 🤭 It sounds like I’m going to lecture, about good hygiene. But no, my post is about felting soaps, as take-away gifts, for my niece Lauren’s bridal shower. The shower was in Phoenix, this past weekend. I declined my invitation, knowing I would surely melt in July’s hot temperatures – never dreaming there would be a triple digit heatwave. However, as her only aunt, I wanted to send something special, to help with the shower. Felted soaps are always appreciated, by any recipient I give them to…so I asked her mother what she thought? I explained they are lovely, and useful, pieces of hand made art. With a few questions, about colors and theme, I was ready to tackle the job.

The theme: Petals and Prosecco.

21 bars of soap, wrapped in wool, then felted
The first 21 bars felted, using assorted carded batts.

I taught soap felting classes, at a fiber show, and a couple fiber retreats. In doing so, I developed a descriptive narrative, to help people understand the process. I experienced many pitfalls, in my learning process. I like to share my mistakes, to prevent my students from experiencing the fate. Felting soap, while not hard to do, can humble any experienced Felter. [Truthfully I had 2 bars fail this time.] Sometimes it just happens!

Generally, the following method works pretty well for beginners. This recitation, is close to what I usually say to my students, as we felt our soap together. I have inserted photos as illustration, where necessary.

1. Use wool that felts well! – For my batts, I try to blend dyed merino, with another easily feltable wool. Add fancy fibers, like silks and angelina, sparingly. I tend to add those fibers to the top of my batts; that allows me to pull small amounts of the add-ins, as decoration. Always try to add a thin web of wool fiber, on top of your silks and fancy fibers. It helps them felt in better.

Photo #2 demonstrates peeling all sharp edges from soap, with a vegetable peeler. Remaining photos, all #3, demonstrates amount of fiber, and wrapping technique.

2. Use a vegetable peeler to remove all 90 degree, or pointy edges of your soap.My best advice – use less wool than you think. Lay out 3 very thin layers of fiber; only enough to cover the area of your bar of soap, with a small overlap. (Photos)

3. Wrap bar of soap, being mindful to cover corners of the bar. This is where you can add wool yarn embellishments, if you choose.

Wool wrapped bar of soap.
I wrapped this bar with boucle yarn, and what I thought was wool yarn. It didn’t felt, so must’ve been super wash wool. So I pulled it off and kept right on going.

4. Carefully wrap in a nylon knee high stocking. Better yet, use cheap nylon footies – ones you use to try on shoes with. [Amazon sells them – $8 for 144.] Grab the wool wrapped bar, with your socked hand, and carefully pull it over.

5. Add luke warm water to a 2 quart bowl. Wet wrapped bar – dipping quickly. Pull wrapped bar out of water, and begin pressing air out of the wool. (You will hear the air leaving the wool – sounding like little farts.) Press sides, press edges, press ends…keep pressing as the air continues to bubble out. Do this for a minute or two. As you press, soap suds begin to form. Some soaps foam more than others.

6. Quick dip in water again, begin pressing the fiber as before. Keep pressing. You should be able to feel all of the contours of the bar of soap. The wool should feel so tight, on the bar, you almost don’t feel it present.

*Only after about 5 minutes of pressing and pressing, around the bar…should you attempt to start rubbing. ***This is where the felting problems happen. Ask me how I know this?? When I am in a hurry, and rush the process, the wool says “No, no, no!”

7. When you do rub, imagine your bar of soap is a new-born baby. You wouldn’t rub your baby roughly…start by rubbing very very gently. After a minute or two, your baby is 1-2 months old, so add a little more rubbing for a minute. Rub all the edges and ends too. Now, your baby is older and you can begin building up the rubbing. [Wipe your soapy hands off with a towel – don’t add more water unless you absolutely have to. Trust me!]

8. You can peel your stocking/footie back, to make sure the wool is tight to the soap, and not sticking to the nylon. If still sticking, you need more rubbing, so wrap it back up and rub some more. Otherwise, remove the stocking, and rub all over some more.

9. Here if you feel the need to felt a bit more, you can rub the soap bar on bubble wrap, or something with a little texture. Make sure every edge is tight to the bar, and you’re pretty much done.

10. Start running some warm water, in your kitchen sink. Rinse your hands off, and quickly like before rinse the bar. Press all the water out, dry outside of bar with paper towel, then set aside to dry.

I generally stop at this point feeling satisfied with the beauty of this simple look. But for the shower, I planned to try something different. I decided to use bits of fiber and felted scraps, to needle felt a loose flower shape. I didn’t take pictures of that process, but I did think to photograph my leaf process:

I dug in my bin of felted pieces and off cuts. I found a lightly felted bit of prefelt, in various shades green. Perfect for leaves.

Leaf shape cut from green felt.
Leaf shape cut from a piece of lightly felted green piece.
Leaf shape in hand
I placed the cut shape in one hand, and rolled it back and forth, to round and felt the cut edges a bit.

I placed my rough flower shape on the bar of soap. For this example, imagine a round piece of felt/fiber. I divided the round shape by eye into petals. Then at a petals edge, I grabbed it with my felting needle tip, and pushed toward the center of said flower. I did this 2 or 3 times around the flower. As shown in the photos above, I cut leaf shapes from the green prefelt and rolled it between my hands a couple times. Whenever my leaf rolled on itself, I flattened it out, and kept on going. (Note: that could work well for another project) For the stems, I used a US-E hook and green yarn to crochet a chain of about 10 stitches. Each of these flowers, stems, and leaves were totally different. I let the colors and fibers determine their own destiny.

felting needle inserted sideways, into leaf shape
This photo shows the best way I found to needle felt (applique) pieces to the felted bar surface. Catching the edge and running it between the felt and soap


close up of a flower, to show detail of work
This close up shows how this blob of wool and silk reminded me of a flower. I simply added some tucks from the edges to make petals

I broke 4 felting needles, on this project, before I figured out my mistake. I watched a YouTube video that said to “needle felt directly into the soap.” I beg to differ with them, unless they have an endless supply of felting needles. I found keeping my felting needle between the felt and the bar of soap worked fine. (See the edge of the leaf, photo above.)

While I am sharing tips with you, I should warn you, these soaps took a good bit of time. For these, I chose to use organic, specialty bars of soap, because they were for my niece’s family and friends. If you ever try selling them, as I have in the past, don’t bother using good soap. While purchasers enjoy, good quality soap, they rarely believe you have used it. I did a fiber show in Mississippi, and used “free” 2oz soaps, we got when traveling. I sold them for $5 ea, and they were gone in 40 minutes. I used a better quality, organic soap in my next batch, and couldn’t get people to part with $7.50. As I sit here writing this up, I don’t see these as money makers at all! But, if you have the supplies, and a bunch of soaps hanging around, they make pretty nice gifts, or stocking stuffers. And…they look so pretty on the tables at a shower.


3 New Chickadees for 3 new relatives

3 New Chickadees for 3 new relatives

Now a momentary pause from my last post and the horrors of math gone wrong.

Instead, I shifted gears back to a project I had started working on a couple of weeks ago but the deadline is now coming up quickly. As you may remember reading, as a commemorative of their parents, I had made each of my brothers-in-laws (there are 5 brothers in total), a chickadee.

6 sets of checkadee feet 1)Chickadee feet, birds in progress for the 5 brothers from 2021

We recently had exciting and unexpected news from one of the brothers. He had been contacted by new family members and was able to arrange a first meeting at the end of June.  I wanted to find a good way to have them feel welcome. When we lost both my in-laws, I made each of the five brothers a Chickadee. (There is a post about that somewhere in the blog.)  We all have fond memories of sitting on the back patio, or washing dishes in the kitchen sink and watching the birds, there were only a couple of bird feeders but so many birds!! The blue jays, cardinals, robins, finches, sparrows, other little ones (that I wasn’t too sure who they were) and the determined throng of chickadees. (There were also crows but I think I was the only one who liked them, plus an army of squirrels, oh and the occasional very cute rabbit.) I have inflicted photos of most of them on you already! Well, maybe just one more to inspire more felted birds.

Blue Jay stealing penuts2) Blue Jay steals Peanuts in Oakville

What we found out was that the brothers have gained a sister! (Ancestry has made a match!) And she has sons so we now have two new Nephews!!! (New to us, they are a bit older than brand new nephews usually are).  We knew that Brother #4 and family would be visiting in Ontario and could travel closer to the eastern end of the province so may be able to arrange a meeting. With a flurry of e-mails, all was arranged.

We were grateful to my brother and his wife for lending us their cottage.  This is the cottage from my childhood, where I honed my by-hand-hunting-skills with the local frogs (bull, leopard and occasionally tree frogs), snakes (black rat, Garter and grass snakes) and turtles (Snapping, painted and soft-shelled mud turtles). Unfortunately, I think my hunting days are behind me.) My brother focused on sneaking up and decapitating unsuspecting wildflowers (hunting) which were more appreciated by my Mom than my much more difficult to catch gifts. (Who could possibly say no to a tree frog? Ok, it was my Mom.)

We went up after work on Friday, it was a bit overcast but was forecast to be a hot weekend and it’s always cooler at the cottage than in the city. I packed up my box of chickadee supplies and was determined to finish all three before the new relatives arrived!

It is a fabulous spot looking out into the trees well above the level of the lake. It was a very inspiring spot to work. As you can see I took over the dining table and then spread to the coffee table. Felting is lighter to transport than spinning or weaving but it sure can take up a lot of space when it escapes from its confinement!

needle felting coving dining table in front of big windows at cottage 3)Wool expanding to fill the space provided (dining room table). Large windows showing trees and tiny glimpses of the lake, far below.

i left my hubby a bit of space to read as the rest of the table is covered with needle felting suplys4) I did leave my hubby a bit of space to read his book.

The Mer’s had come with us, as well as Miss Manta. The Mer’s tried out the teal chaise longue before checking out the window view. Once the Mer’s were happy, I got to work on finishing the Chickadees.

5)Mr and Mrs Mer, Necking on the chaise longue5) Necking on the chaise longue

Mrs and Mr Mer standing on there fins looking out window through trees to lake

I had gotten all three armatures wrapped in wool and to the point that they were ready to have their top coat added before leaving Ottawa.

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7.1- 7.5) Adding tail colour and underwing detail

One of the beaks was not behaving as well as I would like. I noticed the wool on the top upper end of the beak was just a bit looser than when I had wrapped it and was looking a bit fuzzy.  This suggests I either did not use quite as thin a bit of fibre or I had not kept wrapping and rubbing the fibres long enough after running out of wool on the beak. Under the wool is floral tape which is embedded with wax but I found it was not quite as sticky as other times (it may be the section of the roll or its age? I don’t do a lot (or any) wrapping of flowers so I’m not sure of all the factors. It could be that I just didn’t pull that section quite as enthusiastically and did not activate the stickiness correctly.

If I have a bit that should be tight (tips of claws, beaks) and is not up to what I would like,  I can add a bit of conditioned wax.  Wax on its own can dry too brittle or not penetrate the wool, so something that makes it more pliable when dry is preferable. I did not have my wax mix from Sara (Sarafina fibre arts) so I resorted to a dip of wax from a blue candle that was conveniently sitting on the hutch. I first tried using the end of a felting needle to transfer the wax but found the wax cooled too quickly and did not penetrate the fibres, instead sitting above the felt. I cleaned off the unhelpful wax and finally just put the tip of the beak into the wax puddle, which worked.  I rubbed the wax as it cools and found it had penetrated into the wool nicely.  (I bet the little bird will not be looking for seeds in wax candles again!)

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I don’t think I have shown you this, it’s another way to make a line on the surface of your felt.  I wanted a line on the back that was visible, but not as hard-edged as one that is created by tacking down at one end and then drafting out. (I did use that technique along the wings.) For this I started with a wisp of fibre blended to the colour of the line I wanted, laying it over the area the line would go.  I used a needle (I think it was a T-36 or T-38 ( a finer gage would not entrap as much fiber so it would just take more poking and could make a finer more wispy line.)

lay a whisp over the area to add a line and (poke/stab/impale) embedding the fiber in the general line-ish shape you want9) Step 1 lay a whisp over the area to add a line and (poke/stab/impale) embedding the fibre in the general line-ish shape you want.

Lift the fiber up (vertically) away from the felt10) Lift the fibre up (vertically) away from the felt.

If you were wanting a semi-hard edge colour change you could flop the fibre down on one side of the line and blend away, but I wanted to see a slightly indistinct line so I lifted both sides up and used my curved blade embroidery scissors, you can see on the table, to remove the excess fibre.

 11) the excess fiber from the whisp has been cut away leaving a line embedded in the surface of the felt 11) the excess fibre from the whisp has been cut away leaving a line embedded in the surface of the felt

You may already know this way to make lines and have used a similar technique when adding fur to a sculpture but without such enthusiastic trimming.  I figured I should mention it in case you had not yet investigated further and seen further possibilities.  The only drawback to this form of line making is that the wisp can obscure where you are laying the line if the “wisps” is not as wispy as a wisp of fibre should be! (Well, that is the start of a good tung twister I am sure one of you can expand on that thought!) I have been finding the curved blade embroidery scissors work very well on curved felt surfaces. This red handled pair I found for sale online out of China.

When I had the backs ready I created little wing shapes in 3 pairs. I added detail. I had made a special trip to get a brighter white fibre. When I tried it on the first wing, I found that it looked very odd compared to the other tones. So, I went back to the off-white/natural white which looked much better.

12) Once I was pleased with all the wings I added them to the little bird bodies.12) Once I was pleased with all the wings I added them to the little bird bodies.

13) Here all the wings are on and looking good.13) Here all the wings are on and looking good.

One last step to do, now where is the thread, giant bead needle and the little black beads go? Ah! Not to panic the thread and needle were in the bottom of the little toolbox and the beads are in the bottom of the box marked Chickadee!

14) Eldest Nephew of brother #4 joins the Mer’s admiring the lake (through the trees)14) Eldest Nephew of brother #4 joins the Mer’s admiring the lake (through the trees)

Saturday afternoon Brother #4 and his family arrived and were impressed with the cottage. (Thank you again to my brother and his family!)

15) I had just finished putting on the eyes and tucking each bird into his little box when the new members of the family arrived.

I am not sure we were quite what they were expecting. (I hope we didn’t disappoint them too much!) I think my new sister-in-law may have been a bit overwhelmed but they were all fabulous!

16) New Neffue #1, New Ant!, New Nefue #216) New Nephew #1, New Ant!, New Nefue #2

They did seem quite interested in the needle felted birds (as well as the Mer’s and Miss Manta (who seems to have dodged all the photos), so I sent both my new nephews off with a bag of felting needles carefully labelled with gauges for them to try. I am determined that there will be a next generation of felting, spinning or weaving but I had thought it might be my nieces on Glenn’s side or maybe a niece on my side. This is fabulous I may have two more nephews to confuse with fibre!! I wonder what their thots on spinning wheels are? Maybe next visit! (I don’t want to frighten them!!)

It was fascinating to suddenly notice similarities between the nephews and their new uncles. I think nature is winning out over nurture again but all in a very good way.

17) New Sister, New Nephew #2, New Youngest Uncle, New Nephew #117) New Sister, New Nephew #2, New Youngest Uncle, New Nephew #1

We had a wonderful visit on Saturday afternoon and evening, then they returned on Sunday morning for breakfast. It was sad to see everyone headed home, but I am hopeful we will get to see them again soon.  We lingered to do a final clean-up of the cottage. While we were sweeping, vacuuming and collecting laundry, we found the Mer’s were cavorting or maybe that was air swimming, it’s hard to tell.

18) the Mer’s having fun at the cottage.18) the Mer’s having fun at the cottage.

Once we had persuaded everyone into their project bag, we took a moment just to enjoy the quiet (ok there were sea-doos and the loons and some other birds and that daredevil squirrel…) for a moment, before heading back to Ottawa.

19) Hubby taking a moment to relax and read his book.19) Hubby taking a moment to relax and read his book.

The lighting was truly fantastic and the living room made a perfect chickadee finishing spot.

20) one last look before heading out and back to Ottawa.20) one last look before heading out and back to Ottawa.

As we got closer to town, we noticed that haze was back, and then that the smell had returned …. More forest fires still burning. I was hoping so much that all the rain would have dissuaded the hungry flames.

It was a memorable weekend, it’s not every day your hubby and his brothers get a new sister and two adult nephews! They definitely seem like part of the family, Art, Music, and I suspect a lot of reading! I hope they will get to meet the other brothers/Uncles soon. In the meantime maybe I can distract them with a bit of needle felting! Or maybe they would prefer wet felting? Or maybe both!! I have pointed them to the blog, and Sara and Marie’s YouTube felt-a-longs, I can’t wait to see what they make! Maybe some more Mer-People? The Mers should have relatives too!

PS Happy 4 of July to our southern nabours and family!

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