Thanks go out to Alicia Dollieslager for challenging me to make a needle-felted sloth. I had never needle felted before and that made this challenge even more exciting. I learned that needle felting is pretty fun and simple enough that anyone could do it, but because the needles are very sharp, it might not be suitable for young children. I love how Jane Davis puts it in her book Felting: the Complete Guide. She says, “Unfortunately, when starting out in needle felting it is almost inevitable that you will stab yourself with those sharp needles at least once, so have first aid supplies on hand and keep your tetanus shot up to date.” I guess I should feel pretty lucky that I completed this project unscathed.
The basic idea of felting is that when you move your needle in and out of the wool, barbs on the shaft of the needle grab the fibers and tangle them together to create felt. On the subject of needles, the package I purchased came with four types: a 38-gauge star-point needle for felting large areas, a 36-gauge triangle-point needle for fast felting, a 38-gauge triangle-point needle for attaching one item to another, and a 40-gauge triangle-point needle for detail felting and smoothing the surface. After trying them all out, I ended up using the 38-gauge needles for everything except the details on the face and the surface, for which I used the 40-gauge needle.
A foam pad is used as a work surface, both to protect your fingers and to help form the wool into the shape you desire. I started by poking the wool fairly deep to ensure that the center of the figure was felted. Then I switched to the 40-gauge needle to felt the surface. It’s amazing how quickly the wool begins to take shape and how forgiving this medium is.
Use my instructions to make a felted sloth of your own! Continue reading