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Beside quiet waters (landscape felting ideas)

Felting is relaxing and fun especially when shared!!

Last week I travelled back to where I grew up; Grantham in South Lincolnshire, to spend a week with my family and catch up with old friends.

I had a relaxing time away from my office job, walked the quaint streets of Stamford and visited the home of the Bakewell pudding in the Peak District. And… you may have guessed  –  (as I am quite addicted to my felting)-  that I also took some of my wools with me to get on with my latest creation.

I also had the opportunity to spend one of my days showing my mum some basic needle felting techniques. Felting is not just for times alone just you, the wool and needles and your imagination but is so much fun to do with others – especially for friendship craft days, and in my case family time! for me and my mum, together sharing quality time. 🙂

Haha, my dad peered in from time to time and watched and enjoyed the artistic flair (claiming I got it all from him). They are both artistic!    I think we all can be in so many different ways!

My week was sooooo relaxing and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city and work. Home cooked food and love and hugs and then some felting (of course)- all I could wish for in a holiday.

So I wanted to show you some pictures of my mum’s very first landscape piece. My mum is a painter and loves going to her art class each week and produces some beautiful water colour paintings. She loves using colour and really appreciates nature just like me which is illustrated in her work!

So here we go, she needed no help from me after I showed her a few basic hints. I think it is really great. My mum used soft luxurious merino wool from World of wool.

I have named it ‘Beside quiet waters’ as it reminds me of David’s Psalm 23 in the bible and really sums up my week with them. Thanks mum for our time together!

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Mum then painted the sky onto her canvas and stuck the felted piece onto it…. beautiful!!

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Of course on leaving to come back to London I left some wools and some needles with mum.. can’t wait to see what she makes next…

How to needle felt long animal fur

How to needle felt long animal fur

Ever wondered how to get those luscious layers of long fluffy fur on your needle felted animal? more importantly how can you get them to look natural and stay put!?

Whilst making a badger I took some photos of him along the way to show you. It is fairly simple to do but does take quite a long time although once done it does give you a real sense of satisfaction and the fur really does feel soft and fur-like. Of course the end result texture does depend on the type of animal you are felting and the type of wool you wish to use.

If you are new to this amazing art form then before you get started – check out my tutorial ‘what is needle felting’ for basic needle felting techniques.

What wools to choose? 

For my needle felted badger I had already made his body shape by sculpting with natural carded wool. I recommend wool batts which come in long thick sheets, making it easy to pull sections off and the wool is really fast to felt with.

Then for the top coat (which I will be demonstrating in this tutorial) I mixed grey and black merino wool tops with a few strands of some natural undyed wool tops for a rich cream colour. I particularly love the merino sheep wool as it comes in a variety of animal colour options and is lovely and soft to touch. Natural wool tops in breeds such as Jacob or corriedale are quick to felt and are a little more fibrous to the look and feel. When using wool tops the fibres all lay in one direction so they are perfect for cutting lengths and adding these to resemble long fur on your needle felted animal.  If you would like to you could use other luxurious fibres such as baby alpaca.

What tools will you need to attach the fur?

Very simple you just need:

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NB I didn’t want to completely flatten my fur down but allow it to stand out with some volume so only used one needle at a time rather than a multi-needle tool and changed my needle depending on detail and thickness of wool being needled. .

As you can see I have completed my badger except for his back fur and tail at this point. For how to make a badger head please see my tutorial here.

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I love the fur on a badger’s back, it is greyish in colour but with flecks of black, brown and cream.

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Now you could use carding brushes or dog brushes to blend the colours of wool but I wanted to keep the fibres all going in one direction as much as possible at this point and with block strands of full colour in black / cream / grey so not fully blended.

To achieve this lay lengths of each colour on top of each other and then using your thumb and first finger of each hand at each end of the wool lengths, pull your hands apart pulling the wool away from each other. Lay each layer again on top of each other (fibres all in same direction) and keep going until all the wool is blended as much as you want it to be.

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Then take narrow strands of the mixed wool the width of one or two fingers

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… and cut these into small pieces, roughly the same length. The length will vary as we felt as some areas will have longer fur than others…

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They don’t need to be perfect as no badger will have its own hairdresser with a perfect hair cut. 🙂

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I will now demonstrate what you will do with each piece..

Take a piece and slightly pull in the centre in a bow-like shape

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To layer the fur we need to felt from the back end of the animal layer over layer until reaching the head… so place the first piece at the very bottom of the badger’s rump.

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Felt using your barbed needle along the centre parting of the wool piece in various directions, the depth should go down to the first few barbs but the aim is to felt shallow but in many directions for the wool to stay put.

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You can also felted slightly below the centre line onto the bottom half of the piece to ensure it is in place.

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Now carefully pull down the top section

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… and ensure there are no stray edges by encouraging the wool in from both sides..

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Now felt along the top folded edge until it is firmly in place.

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Felting along the centre and then on the top edge in this way helps the wool to stay in place. Give a tiny tug to check it doesn’t easily pull out. NB a really good tug will likely pull fur out hence why these cute little animals are not meant to be toys to be pulled around…they should take cuddles and some handling though so ensure you felt well.

Again ensure you felt in many directions and then continue on to the next piece…layering the wool to create a fur look..

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When moving up to the next layer, position the wool just above the last layer – you don’t want gaps in between of core wool showing so don’t leave too big a gap…

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Don’t worry about the fur being too long or tufts sticking out, as you can give the end of the fur a trim as you go (time to use your hairdressing skills :-))

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By the way this doesn’t need too much skill and I am definitely no hairdresser, just trim in various directions for a more natural fluffy look.

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Any bits you trim off can be used for other felting projects or even for any areas you wish to fill in later at the edges so don’t waste them just put aside in a neat pile for later..

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Optional; For the back end of the badger I wanted this to be extra fluffy with the fur standing up slightly on end so to achieve this, run fingers through the strands of wool to fluff up and stab the wool all over between the strands, not to felt down but to fluff up…(

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As you can see we have a way to go but we are on our way !!

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Aw look at him waiting so patiently to be finished 🙂

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You may find it easier to turn his body as you go – work with whatever position you find comfortable and whatever means less squishing of his cute little nose into the felting mat..

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As you reach the main length of his body you may now decide to cut the lengths of wool a bit longer

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For a more realistic look vary the colours so that you sometimes get more black or cream in the strand you felt…mix it up a bit..

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Keep going…

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Almost there… take a breather – have a hot chocolate !!

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Specifically for the badger- when reaching the neck line, overlay some strands of black wool at the base of the ears …

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Then finish off with some more of the cream at the base of his head..

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You can use a normal sewing needle now if you wish to carefully fluff up the fur where it may have flattened slightly..

And there you have a gorgeous badger! fully furred waiting to be cuddled and fit to be loved!!

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I added his tail after this which also had several layers of wool as fur…

Here he is all completed !! so playful !!

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Long Animal Fur video!

Find it easier to learn by watching how it is done?  

3 My ‘Long animal fur’ video tutorial is NOW AVAILABLE on my YouTube channel in 4 parts.

<<<Click the donkey picture to start watching part 1

 You’ll learn even more techniques for adding long fur (as demonstrated on this adorable miniature donkey).

Did you find this tutorial helpful? What would you like to learn about next? Please leave comments. Why not post a photo of your own creations?

Don’t ever miss out on my latest tutorials! Insert your email address and click the ‘Follow’ button on the right hand panel to receive notifications of when the next post is up..:-)

Needle felted badger!

Needle felted badger!

Finally this weekend I finished needle felting my little badger!

Thank you to those of you who voted on facebook or twitter for the next felted British animal of your choice! there were some great suggestions! The badger however was the obvious favourite and it is understandable why!

Badgers are just so adorable and at the moment they need all the help they can get….so here he is !!! he is a very happy and playful young badger and ‘fit to be loved!’

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This little needle felted badger, just like all my other pieces is made of 100 % wool (a mix of merino and corriedale) and took many hours of labour but tonnes of love to give him his cute playful character.

He will soon be for sale in my Etsy shop and 20% of his sale price will be donated to the Badger Trust who are ‘working hard to help badgers, by tackling the threats they  face, promoting their interests, and by providing vital help for around 60 local badger protection groups across England and Wales’.

For those who would like have a go at making your own needle felted badger -see my previous post which shows you step by step how to start off with a badger head.

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As quiet as a mouse!

So I really have kept ‘as quiet as a mouse’ about this one!!

I made this little mouse as a surprise birthday present for my mum (who I love beyond words).

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Yesterday my mum, dad and sister came to visit Ade and I for the day all the way from Lincolnshire and we celebrated my mum’s 65th birthday! She wasn’t too pleased though at receiving cards with ’65’ on them. …Mum you are beautiful and do not look your age at all, you have a young heart and I love you!

Mum just loves seeing the odd picture texted to her of my needle felt creations as I usually can’t wait until the final finished product to show her how I am getting on. She often sees my latest creations not looking like very much and often without ears and legs or fur… but loves them all the same.:-)

When making her mouse it has been so hard not to tell her or show her a photo. She didn’t expect it and of course was so excited to be given a box on her birthday and find this cute (in her words) little mouse inside!

Her little mouse is saying ‘I love you’, with a flower in his right hand and left hand on his heart. He is lovingly hand-made from 100% wool.

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Mum really does love him and to see the teary but smiley look on her face has made the wait and the time to make him all worthwhile..

It was her and my dad who gave me my name Amanda which means ‘fit to be loved’. The journey of accepting and growing into the meaning of my name was the inspiration behind the name of my needle felting business ‘fit to be loved’ and my hope is that all my felted creations like this little mouse are as the name suggests ‘fit to be loved’. Read more about me and the name here.

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His core is made of natural undyed Corriedale wool from New Zealand. His fur and detail on his cute mousey paws, ears and face are of soft merino wool (non-mulesed) from South Africa (Cape) – chocolate brown, mink, raven and coral. I used coarser wools in purple and grass green for his flower to contrast with the soft contours of his body. You can see his size from the close up of me holding him in my hand. His eyes are made of wool too, so no glass or plastic but all 100% wool!

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Do you have a birthday for a loved one coming up? need a gift idea to say ‘I love you’ ? You can buy one just like him or another bespoke animal of your choice from my etsy shop.

To follow my blog and receive email updates about latest fit to be loved creations and tutorials, simply enter your email address on the top right panel of my ‘find out more’ page.

How to needle felt bunny ears!

How to needle felt bunny ears!
See here for more pictures or to order one just like him

See here for more pictures or to order one just like him

Now that I have revealed my latest needle felted bunny in my most recent post, I can share with you how I made his cute bunny ears. The real bunny, owned by Pete and his wife, had the most incredibly gorgeous long ears and I really wanted to take the time to detail their every curve and beauty. As I created them I took pictures at each phase to document how I made them for my own reference when making other ears in future and also to share with you now on my blog..

For those of you who have some experience of needle felting I am sure you have your own preferred technique but please do take a look – your ideas are very welcome as I am still fairly new to this and so far it has been trial and error but most enjoyable. For those who haven’t tried yet , I hope this inspires you to have a ‘stab’ at it!

This is specifically to show you how to create ears for the bunny I made above, but some of the methods are very similar for other animal ears so feel free to follow them for other projects..

To get started you will need:

  • Foam pad or felting brush base (so not to stab your knees and to provide a firm base to work on)
  • Felting needles of various sizes; wider for initial shaping and finer for detail later on
  • A needle holder; this is optional but for making basic shapes it saves time to use 2 or 3 needles at the same time. In the pictures you will see I use the 3 needle holder pen by Clover.
  • Wool to felt with; I used natural corriedale wool to make the basic ear shapes as I find it felts well and ends up nice and firm (especially to keep in alert bunny position). I then used merino wool as the top coat as it’s soft and comes in some lovely animal fur colours. I buy my wools at a very good price from World of Wool.
  • Finally…   some time, some love, some patience, a drink and bar of chocolate for long sitting periods, perhaps some music (not tv as you may be distracted and stab your finger) and don’t forget a photo or drawing of what you would like to make…

So…. on to the tutorial!

By the way….. the point at which I am about to felt the ears I will already have my head sculpted, I can then at any time measure up the ears to the head to ensure I am getting the right proportion.

Step 1: take two equal lengths (and density) of your core wool (corriedale in this case). Bear in mind that you will need the two ears to end up the same size so keep comparing them. I find it works better if I do a bit on one then do a bit on the other as I go along rather than finish one and then start the other afterwards.

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Step 2: fold the piece in half in an oval shape (you can see already this is forming a long  ear shape before you even use the needle!)

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Step 3: using the thicker felting needle/s start stabbing the wool to go through to the other side as well as shallower stabs to the first few barbs of the needle in many directions (ensure you lift the needle in the same direction as you placed it so not to break any needles). Then turn over and do the other side

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Step 4: now you have a basic flat shape you need to make it more 3d and ear-like so roll the sides in to form thicker edges and stab at 90 degrees but also inwards at an angle keeping the edges rounded where the ear edges need to curve. Do this on both ears as you go..

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Step 5: Use fingers to knead the wool and stab with your needle/s and give shape on both sides. NB I have left a long unfelted end at the bottom of my work to make it easier to fix my ears on to the bunny head later on…

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Step 6: keep pulling edges in and hollowing the middle section with your needle/s

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………and turn over to felt the other side as you go…

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…. remember to turn your work and use various angles to insert your needle/s to mould the wool into the desired shape.

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Step 7: Keep felting and keep checking your photo or drawing to see how big the edges are and which areas should be flatter.

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On a real bunny one edge of the ear is thicker than the other so I had to make sure this was the opposite way round on the other ear (as it is in real life) for a mirror effect. You may want to use one needle or just two needles to make more defined lines..

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And there we have some bunny ears (err… minus some colour and texture!)

So then comes the exciting part …..have your finer needles and bunny fur colours at the ready for the final step….

Step 8: carefully shallow felt the ears with your coloured merino wools (just to a depth of first 1 or 2 barbs on your finer needles) to fix the wool in place but not allow the wool to go through to the other side. You don’t want the darker colours to be seen through the lighter colours on the other side! and vice versa  (it would be a medley of pink and grey in this case).

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……..where needle holes can be seen – you can use fingers or a normal sewing needle to gently fluff up fibres

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…. add different shades of colour to give a more realistic look. I mixed my greys and blues to get the bluey-grey colours. Then I  used a mink colour for the middle of the ear with lighter pinks around the edges. Finally a strand of grey down the very centre for light and shadow and 3d effect…

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Then your ears are ready to fix on to your bunny head for full bunny character!!

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I hope you found this useful. Let me know what you would like me to write about and what you would like me to make!

My next post will be a photo gallery of how I made my bunny creation from start to finish….so you will get to see me fixing the ears in place…!

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What is needle felting?

Are you new to this amazing form of art?

So was I back in 2013, but we all need to start somewhere. Once I started I just couldn’t stop and no doubt you will feel the same way too as it is very addictive.

You have probably seen some of my needle felted animals in my Gallery but what is it that I do to get from a piece of wool to a detailed sculpted animal?

Here I will show you the basics..

Have you ever had a woollen jumper? … loved it, worn it ..and then oh dear..washed it in too hot a wash and failed to read the washing instructions properly? or maybe you have heard of others doing that…Well that happened to me when I went to uni and didn’t have my mum to show me how it should be done!. My new favourite jumper shrunk to about a 5th of the size it started out as!!. Lets just say my teddy bear (I know I took a teddy to uni!) had his very own jumper which fit him perfectly… sadly though it would never reshape back to my size..

Needle felting felting is not putting wools in the machine or adding soapy water (although there is a technique known as ‘wet felting’ which does just this!) but the concept of how wool fibres latch on to each other and don’t want to let go is what I am trying to demonstrate here.

With needle felting you use a single barbed needle or several at the same time to cause the wool to felt..

First of all you choose your wools. These are some of the delicious coloured merino wools I used to make a fox.

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You pull off a piece (pull sections with hands far apart rather than too close).

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Roll or fold your wool tightly to form the shape you need. Here I am forming a spherical shape to demonstrate. You can take the wool off of the foam pad (used here to ensure I don’t stab myself) and roll in a ball in your hands too if you like – just like a piece of play dough as the ‘squishing’ action helps bind it into the shape you need as well.

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Then using your barbed needle you stab away at the wool hundreds of times in various directions, turning as you go (avoiding your fingers as the needle is extremely sharp) and as you do the wool fibres hug each other tight and don’t let go 🙂

Make sure the needle exit at the same angle as it entered so not to bend to bend or break it. start off slow at first until you get used to it and you will speed up in no time.

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The more you stab (which is quite therapeutic by the way after a hard day at work) the firmer and more compact the wool becomes so you can sculpt shapes. 2013-07-29 14.22.13

It is like modelling clay but with wool and a needle. Instead of moulding an area with your fingers you work it with a needle.

What I love is that there is no sewing involved (all the facial features such as eyes and noses can be needle felted too!) you just stab wool into shapes and add shapes to other shapes… and hey presto!! you have an animal.

There is of course a lot more to it than this. If you take a look at my Tutorials, tips and ideas page you will find further techniques.

Some animals can be made by simply needle felting basic body parts and felting them together.

For some you could felt the wool onto a wire armature to give the animal more structure and poseability (is that a word?). For example for the fox, cat, dog and donkey I  wrapped the wool tightly around wire which I had first prepared (after looking at photos of skeletal structures) and used my needle to fix the wool in place, firm up and blend in loose edges. Then I added more wool shapes to build up anatomy parts onto the base structure.

Here I have just started to give the fox his shape before adding his head and fuller tail and torso.

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I tend to start off with core wool (usually corriedale batts) using my thicker needles to get started. Then for adding layers of realistic looking fur and to get the colours I love I use a blend of soft merino wool roving. Thinner sized needles are used for needle felting the details especially for the face and ears. I use no beads or buttons for eyes and noses…. just beautiful 100% wool!!

Did you find this tutorial helpful? What would you like to learn about next? Please leave comments. Why not post a photo of your own creations?

For more tutorials please visit my Tutorials, tips and ideas page.

Don’t ever miss out on my latest tutorials! Insert your email address and click the ‘Follow’ button on the right hand panel to receive notifications of when the next post is up..:-)

Don’t have time to make one but would love a one of a kind needle felted animal by Fit to be loved for yourself or for that special someone? Visit my Etsy shop today to see my latest creations. Or like my facebook page to see what I am making next.

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