So you would like to start needle felting but where do you start?
I see a lot of people posting on various felting pages that they have bought a cheap kit online with tools and wool included. My advice is don't. These kits often contain a fine fibre that comes from China and to be honest I often wonder if it is even wool. It is also often Merino which is not really suitable for needle felting and it puts people off.
You are better off buying a beginners kit from one of the many small businesses to try. I sell a beginners kit myself which has full photographic instructions and everything you need to make a simple sheep, and have some fibre left over to make another, or a brooch.
I shall try and explain about some of the wool I use for needle felting but please do ask via the contact me page if there is one I haven't covered.
All my sculptures first start off with core wool. This is usually a short fibre, cheaper wool that is usually undyed that needle felts very easily. So basically it has been washed and carded and is ready to use. It may have little bits of vegetable matter (VM) in it which can be picked out but I tend to leave it, as it either felts in or the needle will pull it out. Vegetable matter is bits of grass and vegetation. The more you felt it the firmer it gets and you can really sculpt it well as it gets firmer. I like to leave mine so you can still squeeze it a little as when you start adding a top coat the sculpture will firm up more.
I buy core wool from various places such as Wingham Wool, World of Wool and I have also started processing my own. There are many other places that sell it and everyone has their favourite.
If you are a beginner 100g is quite a fair bit of wool and will be plenty to get you started.
This is wool that has been washed, possibly dyed and carded so that it is in big fluffy sheets. Often core wool comes like this but finer wools can do too. You can then pull off a handful or a layer to start your project.
Wool that has been carded and then drawn into a long strip with the fibres all parallel. It is usually then wrapped into a ball. It is great for wrapping wire if you are using it for an armature and you can build up layers and blend colours with it easily. My favourite to use for needle felting are the Corriedale slivers from World of Wool which are very popular with a lot of people. They come in a huge range of colours, can be used for core wool and are very affordable.
Wool tops or roving as some countries call it, is wool that has been carded and then combed into a long strip with the fibres all running in one direction. The fibres are smoother, finer and almost look like hair as the shorter fibres will have been removed.
It may be sold as needle felting fibre, but you will find it difficult to cover your project well as it is too smooth due to being combed. However, you could use some dog brushes to card it by hand to roughen it up if you have bought one of the previous mentioned starter kits. It is however excellent for creating a long fur effect for animals, makes beautiful hair for fairies and dolls etc. It is often merino but you can buy other sheep breeds and fibre tops such as bamboo or viscose.
Wool locks are used for texture. They are left in their curly individual form, not carded and can be dyed. Depending on breed they can be short, long, teeny tiny or extra curly. They are fabulous for hair, beards or creating curly coats on an animal. By stabbing the end in that has been cut you can leave them hanging or just tuck them up and create short curls.