I am so excited to share a tutorial on needle felting. You have shown interest in giving it a go and I encourage you to dive right in. Others of you who are hooked will agree, it is such a fun hobby and you'll be amazed at the things you can make. When I picked up my first needle three years ago, I was surprised at how quickly I took to it. One of the things I love most about needle felting is that you can finish a project in one sitting. You can sit down with a basket of wool and be holding a delightful pumpkin in your hands half an hour later. Of course, you can make wonderfully elaborate creations that take hours and hours but you can also make something in twenty minutes too. I like that.
This tutorial (and others like it) is published on my blog, The Magic Onions, in color if you'd rather follow the color, online, directions... www.themagiconions.blogspot.com (search: needle felted toadstools).
This is a tutorial on how to make a sweet, needle felted pumpkin... a simple and fast project for beginner needle felting.
Equipment - Needle felting requires three tools; wool roving, a felting needle and a protective foam board.Wool roving looks like cotton candy. When the sheep is sheered, the fleece is washed and dried and then it is 'carded' - brushed so that all the knots and clumps are brushed out and the fibers of the wool all run the same way. It is then dyed... any wonderful color under the sun :-) This roving can then be spun into yarn (for knitting) or it can be felted.
The protective foam board is not absolutely necessary but it is definitely recommended when you are learning to needle felt. The needle is very sharp and if you don't have a board upon which to steady your work, you will find yourself painfully stabbed more than once.
The felting needle is about 3 inches long. As I said before, it is very sharp. The tip of the needle has a number of small barbs and it is these barbs that felt the wool. It works because the outer surface of each fiber of wool has tiny, microscopic scales on it. When the fiber is agitated, the scales hook into one another, forming a tighter and tighter mass. The needle works because the barbs of the needle 'grab' the fibers as you stab it into the wool, depositing the fibers deeper into the wool. The little scales on the fibers lock together, ensuring that the fibers stay in their new place. By stabbing the wool hundreds of times with your needle, you have control over the form of your wool and can shape it as you wish. You can see the barbs if you look closely at the tip of your needle.
Making A Pumpkin:
For the pumpkin, we will start by making an orange ball. Break off a length of orange wool roving about the length of your hand.
Roll it between your hands as you would roll a ball of playdough into a snake.
Roll the wool 'snake' into a tight, fat, spiral. The tighter you can get it, the easier it will be to felt. The fatter your spiral, the rounder your ball will be.
Tip: I find that rolling is key in many of my felting projects... if I can roll the wool tightly to begin with, I can greatly reduce the time my form takes to felt.
When my orange wool has been rolled into a tight, fat, spiral, I set it down on the felting board and stab it with the needle many times around the outside of the spiral. Be slow and deliberate with your stabbing in the beginning, and concentrate, please... it hurts like a shot when you stab yourself... it's not the end of the world, but it is better avoided :-)
You will soon see that this stabbing holds the wool in place and your spiral will not unravel if you let it go.
Now, to clean up the tops of your orange ball and make it round, gently, with your thumb and forefinger, pull the outside layer of wool a loose, just a little. Fold this pulled layer over the spiraled wool and needle felt it gently. Duplicate with the other 'spiral' end of your ball and needle felting it until it is a smooth round ball.
To make the 'segments' of your pumpkin, we are going to use a needle and thread. Thread your needle with an appropriately colored, strong, thread... I use embroidery thread. Tie a knot in the end of the thread and 'catch' the thread in the base of your pumpkin by using a simple catch stitch (through a little roving at the base of your pumpkin, and through again, catching the roving in the stitch firmly).
Now, holding your 'pumpkin ball' horizontally, pass the needle through the ball from the base of the pumpkin to the top middle of the pumpkin, where the stalk will go.
With your thumb and forefinger, pinch the pumpkin ball tightly and pull the thread tight. Still pinching the ball tightly between your thumb and forefinger, pass the thread over the outside of the ball and then through the ball again, as above. Pull tightly and you will see that the thread on the outside of the pumpkin ball will make a perfect pumpkin indentation around the outside of the ball. Still pinching the ball between you thumb and forefinger, and spacing the next thread 'segment' a little distance apart from the first thread 'segment', repeat, passing the thread around the outside of the ball again and back through the center, pulling tight when it comes out at the stalk end of the pumpkin ball... you will see a that you have made a perfect little pumpkin segment.
Continue making thread segments the whole way around the pumpkin ball, spacing the segments roughly equal distance apart. Voila... your orange ball will now look wonderfully pumpkin like.
When all of your segments are completed, you can either tie a knot in your thread, again using a simple catch stitch in the wool at the base of the pumpkin and trim the thread. Or, if want to hang your pumpkin, pass the thread back through your pumpkin middle again after making your catch thread. make a loop for hanging, pass the thread back through the middle of the pumpkin again, leaving the loop for hanging and tie another catch stitch. Trim the thread short.
All this working with your orange pumpkin ball will have made it quite fuzzy. With your felting needle, clean up the fuzz buy needle felting it gently back into place. Play particular attention to the pumpkin segment indentations, making them lovely clean lines.
Now we will make the green stalk and little leaf and twirly vine. Break of a little piece of green wool about the size of your little finger, about half an inch long. Roll it in your hands as you would a ball of playdough into a snake.
Tightly roll this 'snake' up into a tight, thin, spiral. Still holding onto your small green spiral tightly, place it on the felting board and needle felt it along the outside of the spiral... all around until it is a tight stalk. Leave one end fluffy. Carefully needle felt the other end flat.
To attach the stalk to your pumpkin, needle felt the fluffy end into the orange, indented, top of your pumpkin, trying to avoid the thread that has made the segments.
To make the leaf, take baby-fingernail sized piece of green wool into a small ball. Needle felt it onto your orange pumpkin.
To make the twirly vine, take an even smaller piece of green wool, roll it between the palms of your hands, pulling it longways, until it is a long thread-like length. Needle felt it onto your pumpkin.
Voila! You have made a darling little pumpkin!!
I hope you have enjoyed this needle felting project. You have enough wool in your kit to make three little pumpkins :-)
I have other needle felting kits available in my shop if you wish to try something new... felted pebbles for lovely home decor, felted toadstools, felted balls as well as kits of lovely colored wool for you to make whatever your heart desires. Please visit my shop
www.fairyfolk.etsy.com and look under the Kits section.
Happy felting and don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about needle felting.
Blessings and magic,