1. Core wool is a term used to describe the wool that is used to start your needle felted piece. Core is not a breed of sheep. It is not dyed and, therefore, less expensive.
2. There are over a thousand distinct breeds of sheep in the world. Wool is not just wool. Each breed, each animal, has its own characteristics.
3. Breeds with short, coarse fiber are best for needle felting. Romney, Corriedale, and Baby Doll, just to name a few.
4. Felting needles have notches slit into the tip of the needle. They grab onto the scales of the fiber as you poke and mesh the fibers together. The higher the number on the needle, the finer the needle is and leaves less of a hole in the fiber. You might start with a 32, 34, or 36 gauge felting needle. You might use a 40 or 42 gauge felting needle to finish.
5. Experiment. Experiment often. I find the best experiment to start with is to use a starter needle, and needle felt a large ball. Make it as large as a softball. A smaller ball is easier to felt up firmly and not an accurate measure for larger pieces. Note the characteristics of the wool. Is it hairy? Did it finish up smoothly? Were you able to get a firm ball?
6. Use as many needles on your ball as you have in your possession. You will find that you are going nowhere fast with a size 40 or 42 needle if you are adding wool to the ball. You will find using these same needles on the last layer will not shrink it further and will give it a smooth finish. A triangle needle has three sides with notches. A star needle has a fourth side with notches. There are spiral needles in various sizes and even reverse needles. Use them all on each ball so that you can get a feel for each needle. If you do this often, you will eventually recognize the size of the needle just by the feel of it piercing the fiber.
7. To be continued...…….
Needle Felting Tips