Ok, time to tell the truth. I can’t sew. I know, I know; I’ve started an artsy-crafty creative blog and I can’t even sew! Or knit. I expect I can learn – it’s not entirely hopeless just yet – but at this point in time, I can’t sew. I’ve never darned a sock or adjusted an item of clothing. I never even finished the rather flimsy kite I half heartedly began in school.
All that said, I love making things, and that’s why needle felting appealed to me so much. It’s more sculpture than anything else, and when I discovered Black Dog and Ginger Cat needle felting kits I couldn’t wait to have a go!
The kits include everything you need, even plasters for inevitable finger pricks, and the instructions are simple to follow for the most part, but the odd diagram here and there was very handy.
It was a lovely day so I invited my mum round for an old fashioned crafty afternoon in the garden and we set to work. Me on my brown hare, she on her white bear.
This was a first for both of us, though my mum has always made toys and clothes and been very creative so I thought this would be right up her street. I thought wrong, but we’ll come to that later!
The secret to needle felt, it turns out, is to be VERY STABBY. You ball, or fold, or twist your wool and then (whilst leaning on some sponge for support and safety) stab-stab-stab a large, barbed needle through it to condense and sculpt pieces into shape. It’s incredibly satisfying, especially after a hard day in the office I should think!
As you work through your wool, it becomes much firmer, but if you make a mistake you can tease it back out and try again.
It took a couple of hours and a few finger pricks (mostly for my mum, who got a bit impatient and kept asking if she could go home. No, she couldn’t.), but our wisps of wool took shape! Once all the individual parts were formed, it was time to bring it all together.
The only bit of sewing involved here was to attach the eyes, and the bear paws (my obliging mother sewed for both our animals), otherwise it was more very careful stabbing to fasten the pieces together.
And then, ta da! A bit wibbly, far from perfect, but rather lovely! Or as my mum said “Oh god, you’re not putting this on the internet are you?”.
You can buy a range of needle felt kits from Black Dog and Ginger Cat, all for £20. I’m definitely going to try my hand at some more. That’s all children’s (and a few adult’s) birthdays sorted for the foreseeable future.
Lydia Needle is the very aptly named heart and mind behind Black Dog and Ginger Cat. As well as selling kits, she runs classes in Somerset, sells her own work at fairs and on Folksy and even does pet portraits!
More than all this, Lydia also creates and sells black dogs, a common metaphor for depression, with 10% of proceeds going to the mental health charity SANE. A lovely idea, a worthy cause, and I especially love the Spaced reference on her black dogs page.
I’m buying one now. You know. For security.
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