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Poking and Stabbing

I have been having a brilliant time running a needle felting classes recently and thought that this might be a good opportunity to put down some of the needling hints, tips and techniques that I use when I am needle felting. I won’t cover needle types and grades in this blog – I’ll save that for later – but I will cover some of the main techniques which I use on a regular basis.

Basic Needling

I am not going to spend too much time on the basic needling technique except to make a couple of obvious points:

  • When needling make sure you stab your needle straight in and out of the wool. If you bend your needle while it is in your piece, it could break.

  • When starting a new piece, stab right the way through the wool for the first few minutes to make sure you felt right the way through and do not end up with a hollow piece. After you are sure the centre has started felting up, you can start using shorter stabs.

  • The fibre will compress in the direction of stabbing so use this knowledge to shape your piece.

Swirl and stab

I use this when I am making circular shapes or when I am working with a stray piece of wool which is refusing to behave itself.

Take your needle and give a couple of normal stabs to anchor the fibre into your piece, then swirl your needletip in the loose fibre pieces and stab the needle into the piece. The swirling catches the fibres onto your needle and the stabbing anchors the fibre to your piece. You should only need to do this a couple of times to get control of the fibre/get a nice circular shape.

Drag and stab

Remember when I mentioned stabbing the needle straight in and out of the wool? The drag and stab is the one time when I will, very carefully, put sideways pressure on my needle. I use this technique for drawing narrow lines with my fleece.

Working with the tiniest bit of fleece, stab the fleece to anchor it in place at one end of your line. With your needle at a low angle to the surface of your piece gently drag the needle along the trace of the line you are trying to make, stabbing as you go (you could also add some swirling if the fibre is refusing to cooperate). Be very careful not to overstress the needle or it will break. You can go back over the line with more fleece if you need to emphasise it more or thicken it up.

Mohican stabbing

If you want to get an effect whereby you have fibre strands poking straight up out of your piece, this is a very easy technique to do. You can use if for making horse’s manes, or for making the piece of grass popping out of a sheep’s mouth.

Take a piece of fibre and place it so that the centre of the fibre is on the spot where you want the Mohican effect. Needle through the centre of the fibre and as you needle, the sides will rise up. Keep needling until the fibre is sticking straight up, like a Mohican.

More tips and techniques soon, but I will just leave you with a picture of makes from students at one of my recent classes. They are did a brill job and had a great time.

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