Felting Talk

I’m still enjoying learning the art of 2D needle felting and have had a stab – no pun intended – at doing a portrait of my boy Stan.

This probably wasn’t the best photo to choose to copy as he was much younger then and the light is making his black coat look as if it has purple and blue in it – and that bow tie!!

As I am completely in love with this new activity I thought I’d talk you through what 2D needle felting involves in case you’re interested and you’ve never come across it before.

 Firstly, I did a few free online tutorials with felting artist Sophie Wheatley – remember the hamster I did?  Sophie felts a picture from beginning to end and you can follow along live or watch later. (a link to her website at the end in case you feel it’s something that would appeal to you).

I immeditely knew I was going to love the craft and, as I love dogs just a bit too, I thought I would join her paid course for the dog portraits which is probably the best money I’ve ever spent on a crafting course of any description.

With Sophie’s method, you don’t have to be able to draw – which is good because I can’t.  Instead, you choose a really good, in focus photo where there’s not too much shine or shadow and the features are clear.

Then you transfer the photo on to your background fabric.  100% wool felt sheets are good because they help the felting process begin but you can use whatever fabric you can get a felting needle through.  I used linen for Stan’s first portrait.

I don’t use the method Sophie uses to transfer the photo although most of the students seem to.  I use a lightbox and trace the outline and as many markings as I can in pencil.

I turn the traced image over and, again using the lightbox to highlight the lines, I go over the drawing with a transferable pen.

Then, I turn the paper over again so that the transferable pen lines are against the backing fabric and iron it, making sure all the lines are transferred.

Then you really look closely at the original photograph on your screen, zooming in on the detail and see what colours you have in there.

Sophie recommends using carded wool batts rather than roving (wool tops) as the batts are already slightly matted and will felt down much quicker.

I have quite a few neutral colours as both my dogs are black with varying degrees of white but I also needed tans and creams and browns.  Luckily, you only need small pieces of wool as you don’t actually use much at all.

Felting needles come in different gauges but, basically, they have barbs on the end which you repeatedly poke down into the wool and this is what causes the fibres to come together and become ‘felted’.

A foam pad is one of the types of support you can use beneath your work.

Generally, it’s good to start with the eyes because they immediately give the portrait some life and encourage you to move on.

I have a tendency to make the eyes too big and this right eye was removed at a later stage and re-done.  This is possible if you don’t felt the wool down too firmly at first.  you can always go over it all at the end to firm it up.

I sent a photo of the first finished ‘draft’ to my daughter on WhatsApp and she sent me back a link to ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch.

Everyone’s a critic 🙄

So both eyes came out at that point and got re-done.

Anyway, I’m pleased enough with my finished portrait of Stan to put him in a hoop (for now) but I still have a lot to learn and will do some more practice before I try one of Flo and another one of Stan with the grey hairs he has now.

If you fancy having a go, Sophie has some free tutorials on her site ‘All Things Felt and Beautiful’  which was where I learnt to do the hamster and, just last weekend, this lemur – which I’m quite proud of actually.

I’m glad I started learning this before the current lockdown situation otherwise I might have found it hard to get the materials.  It’s been the perfect distraction – the time flies while you’re doing it.  I did think the other day that I’d like to try Tunisian crochet but although I could get instructions and patterns on PDF files, I haven’t got any of the special hooks so that will have to wait.

I hope you’ve found this quick run down on 2D needle felting of interest but, I thought, if i’m going to talk about it in future posts, you might want to know what it involves even if you’re not going to try it yourself.

Have you started anything new during the current situation to take your mind off things or have you taken the opportunity to finish current projects or can’t you concentrate on anything at all for long at the moment?

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  1. #1 by nanacathy2 on April 3, 2020 - 09:52

    Wow, you are good. Love the dog and lemur. I have packed all my felt supplies in boxes for the removal firm , but I shall enjoy watching your progress. Crafting has deserted me for the time being..

    • #2 by tialys on April 3, 2020 - 10:43

      Thanks Cathy, I think I’m getting there. I’m sorry you’re not finding comfort in your usual pursuits at the moment, maybe the desire to create something lovely will come back to you soon. xx

  2. #3 by thecontentedcrafter on April 3, 2020 - 10:16

    As I have settled into drawing and doodling again in the last couple of days I am aware once more of the peace that concentrating on a small piece of work brings – it’s like a meditation – and I can well imagine that felting does this too. I think making a portrait of someone you love is quite challenging , but you seem to have achieved a commendable likeness of your younger Stan in his spiffy bow tie. I have to say I love the lemur too – you have hit the proportions just right there. I’m impressed with how quickly you have picked this up and made it your own.

    • #4 by tialys on April 3, 2020 - 10:47

      It’s true that the time flies by and you can lose yourself in a small project isn’t it? I think those of us who can manage it are very lucky to find some relief in that way and will also end up with something worth looking at too.
      I think proportions are the key here – as with painting I guess – and I can see my progress with each project so I’m quite pleased. I’ve started another dog portrait – a practice piece, not a dog I know – so we’ll see how that turns out.

  3. #5 by claire93 on April 3, 2020 - 10:34

    you’re getting really good at this, Lynn!

    • #6 by tialys on April 3, 2020 - 10:48

      I’m definitely seeing some progress from my first stabbings so hopefully I’ll continue to improve until you won’t be able to tell the difference between the photograph and the portrait! That’s my aim anyway.

  4. #7 by SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️ on April 3, 2020 - 10:51

    Wow!

  5. #10 by Dartmoor Yarns on April 3, 2020 - 11:27

    Wow! That’s brilliant. Very impressive. The picture is a great choice and why not have purple and blue reflecting in his fur? – so pretty. The bow tie adds a wonderful touch too. As you can seen I’ve completely ignored all the stuff about needle felting and focused on beautiful beautiful beautiful Stan. But I would say, you have definitely done him proud 🙂

    • #11 by tialys on April 3, 2020 - 12:04

      Thank you. I think I’m moving in the right direction and making progress which is always encouraging isn’t it?

      • #12 by Dartmoor Yarns on April 3, 2020 - 16:44

        Definitely looks like the right direction to me 🙂

  6. #13 by katechiconi on April 3, 2020 - 12:45

    You almost tempt me to fish out my felting needle. Almost… But seriously, I have far too many other activities going on. It’s a very good first effort at Stan, and I reckon you’ll improve by leaps and bounds with practice.

  7. #16 by Laurie Graves on April 3, 2020 - 16:09

    I am going to add a Maine “Wowsah!” This post sure brightened my day.

  8. #19 by craftycreeky on April 3, 2020 - 16:30

    Wow, these area amazing, you might even tempt me to have a go 🙂

    • #20 by tialys on April 3, 2020 - 19:06

      Go on – you’ve probably got the time at the moment 😉

  9. #21 by Kim on April 3, 2020 - 17:22

    Flat out gorgeous!

  10. #23 by Lilbitbrit Christine on April 3, 2020 - 19:46

    I think you’ve done a great job.

    • #24 by tialys on April 3, 2020 - 20:53

      Thank you. I’m unashamedly showing what I hope will be my progress from beginner to competent – warts and all.

  11. #25 by anne54 on April 4, 2020 - 00:02

    If this is beginner work, warts and all, your felting future is looking bright! These are great.I can only imagine how textural they feel.

    • #26 by tialys on April 4, 2020 - 10:32

      You’re supposed to felt it down until it’s fairly smooth and even but, of course, with it being wool, there is definitely some texture. On the reverse, it’s like a fluffy little carpet.

  12. #27 by kathyreeves on April 4, 2020 - 03:10

    Stan looks amazing, you have a gift for felting Lynn! I’m looking forward to your next unveiling,

    • #28 by tialys on April 4, 2020 - 10:15

      Thanks Kathy – I’m working on a Trailhound at the moment. It’s a practice piece as I don’t know anybody with a Trailhound but I think I can see more progress which is the important thing.

  13. #29 by kathyreeves on April 4, 2020 - 03:12

    Oh wow, Lynn, you have a gift for this! Stan looks amazing, and that lemur, he’s just fantastic!

  14. #30 by knettycraft on April 4, 2020 - 09:59

    Your portraits turned out gorgeous! Wow! I never tried this. I do homeoffice since three weeks… and it turns out to be not the way of work for me. I’m kind of ‘always at work’… it feels like. I miss my ‘leaving the office’ and way home to have a cut between work and home. I just started with finishing some FOs… and there are a lot of it… some knitting, a handsewn hexie bag, several quilts (!), the hexie thing from your tutorial (there is only the cover to be sewn)… related to all what is to be done I could stay at home for years 😁

    • #31 by tialys on April 4, 2020 - 10:13

      My husband is working from home but he’s more used to it than most as he does it two out of every four weeks anyway. My daughter, on the other hand, is finding it difficult. Maybe you could do something slightly different at the end of the working part of your day as a cut-off point. I don’t know, something like making a hot drink, going out for a quick walk (if that’s allowed where you are) or phoning a friend or family member. But, yes, on the crafting front, us crafters would probably have enough to keep us going for a long time 😁

  15. #32 by Mrs G on April 4, 2020 - 12:24

    Perhaps your daughter intended more of a ‘that’s fab’ scream? In any case, you did well. I have felting needles and wool in a box and instruction books and links to YouTube videos but can’t build up any enthusiasm for it at the moment. Instead, I will be making scrub bags for my local NHS hospital. When I run out of fabric for those I might then actually have a go at the felting! Hope you continue to keep well and corona virus free.

    • #33 by tialys on April 4, 2020 - 13:05

      Thank you. I bought myself some wool tops and felting needle a few years ago and, having tried to make a round bead without much success, put it away and half forgot about it. It was only when my daughter was looking for a hobby that I suggested it to her and, although she’s having none of it, I found that I was newly enthused. I started off with 3D sculptural figures which I like and will probably go back to but, I am fascinated with the 2D aspect at the moment. I think the secret is to find some projects you really want to do. The book I had originally had some slightly ‘meh’ projects in that didn’t appeal to me. I can really recommend Sophie’s methods and she’s so gentle and kind so, once you’ve run out of fabric for the scrubs which is a wonderful thing to do!, and feel like doing something for yourself again, you could give her free ‘needle felt with me’ tutorials a try – they are free so nothing to lose. She starts with an avocado so nice and simple while you get the feel of it.
      Keep well yourself and thanks for your comment.

  16. #34 by Lindashee on April 4, 2020 - 21:38

    That looks beautiful ! You’re doing really well, felting isn’t an easy art but I like that it is fairly forgiving (like you said you can always try to add, rip wool to correct something) – I’ve never tried 2d felting but it might actually be easier than stabbing myself while trying to make little balls inside my hand haha

    • #35 by tialys on April 5, 2020 - 10:27

      Yes, the stabbing hurts if you miss your target – there has been some ripe language from time to time.

  17. #36 by Beads and Barnacles on April 5, 2020 - 11:24

    Ooh this new hobby looks great. You really got some personality in those portraits.
    If you want to learn Tunisian crochet then there are lots of patterns that can be done on a normal crochet hook.
    Check out https://instagram.com/aoibheni for some inspiration

    • #37 by tialys on April 5, 2020 - 17:20

      Yes, I saw there were some smaller items you could make with an ordinary crochet hook just to get the hang of it. I might have a go at it. I needed another hobby of course!!

      • #38 by Beads and Barnacles on April 5, 2020 - 18:48

        I’m sure you do need another hobby ☺️
        Yeah there are some amazing large projects made using just a short hook, like shawls etc

  18. #39 by Jamie@hookthisweavethat on April 5, 2020 - 11:50

    Wow, well done. That looks great.

    • #40 by tialys on April 5, 2020 - 17:21

      Thank you. Just finished another dog today which I’m quite pleased with and I’m pretty sure I can see progress which is encouraging.

  19. #41 by Sheepishly Made by CS on April 6, 2020 - 04:08

    This! I fell in love with 2D felting after trying making felted sculptures for a while. This is way more in my realm. Nice work!

    • #42 by tialys on April 6, 2020 - 09:19

      Thank you. I enjoyed the little bit of sculpture I did too but this has definitely diverted me for the moment.
      I had a quick look at your FB page and it seems you are ideally placed for your woolly supplies! 😃🐑🐑

  20. #43 by Robin @ Imperial Crochet on April 6, 2020 - 11:59

    I’ve been wanting to try this. Yours are gorgeous!

    • #44 by tialys on April 6, 2020 - 12:16

      You should give it a try – it’s quite addictive 😊

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