I’m a firm believer that people need hobbies.
For those of us who stitch, we can safely say that embroidery (or cross stitch or needlepoint or whatever kind of stitching we do) is our hobby. For many of us, it might be our only hobby. But for many of us, it might be one among several hobbies.
Over the years as I’ve corresponded with lots of embroiderers around the world, I’ve noticed that many of us pursue various textile-related hobbies. I’ve noticed that many of us have other hobbies across the whole gamut of the visual arts. And I’ve noticed that many have hobbies that go beyond the visual arts and into completely different realms of creativity.
We tend to be hobby-rich people. And I think that’s a good thing!
Although I consider embroidery my main hobby (and my profession – I think it can be both!), and although I have a couple other hobbies I indulge in pretty regularly, I felt like I needed (yet another) hobby outside of embroidery.
Strangely enough, my hobbies seem to be seasonal. One of my late-in-the-year hobbies is needle felting.
This autumn and moving into the pre-holiday season, we’re planning a few local workshops here in Kansas. Two of the projects we’ll be working on in our “Crafternoon” workshops closer to November and December focus on Christmas embroidery, but the third one is needle felting with wool. We’ll be creating small sculptures that can be used as decoration and for practical purposes.
If you haven’t tried needle felting, you might consider it – especially if you’re a fiber enthusiast who likes to dabble across all mediums! There’s something thoroughly enchanting about it!
My favorite type of needle felting involves sculpting small three-dimensional critters and objects, like the pumpkin above.
As I’ve dabbled with needle felting, I’ve discovered that I prefer smaller sculptures that I can use. For example, sometimes, I use them as pincushions. The pumpkin works especially well as a pincushion year round, but I love having it out as autumn approaches. It’s nice to have a seasonal touch here and there in the studio!
Lately, I made a little penguin that stands on his own two feet, and I plan to use him as a pincushion as well.
Some small sculptures, like this little snowman, are easily transformed into tree ornaments with a little hanging twine felted into the top of the sculpture, or threaded through it. Before I prepare this one as an ornament, I plan to add a little touch of greenery to the hat and scarf with embroidery thread, and perhaps even a bit of beading. He still needs arms, too.
Sheep, penguins, hedgehogs, birds, and other small critters make terrific tree ornaments, too. Take them as they are, or add a cheery red bow, maybe some felted greenery – practically any small animal sculpture will fit right into Christmas decor. I like tying them to the outside of Christmas gifts, too, as an additional handmade touch.
Of course, needle felting goes way beyond Christmas, as dedicated felters well know. I tend to be an autumn-into-winter felter, because I associate working with wool with cooler weather. But I’ve found that it’s truly a year-round sport for those who felt with gusto!
The whole process of needle felting can be super-duper mesmerizing. Listening to the sound of the needle entering the felt and the felting pad, watching the shape slowly take form, feeling the wool firm up – it’s all rather addicting! It’s a very tactile and sensory experience. And, with the right kind of kit and instructions, it’s a great hobby for practically anyone from age 10 on up. Yep, even kids! They just need a little guidance on using the felting needle.
For our workshop purposes, I brought in beginner kits from Bear Creek Felting, out of North Dakota. Their kits are very thorough. They have everything you need to successfully felt the project: all the wool roving (and there’s usually leftovers) and any specialty wool required, needles, a thick felting cushion, glass eyes or any other extras when required, and instructions.
I selected this company’s kits in particular because they use their own wool from their own sheep, which is processed and dyed in an environmentally friendly fashion, and they do their own kitting, keeping everything right here in the US. Using their kits makes it very easy to run short two-hour workshops for youth and adults. The participants purchase the kits to reserve their seats, and then they have everything they need to finish the project. And the kits make terrific beginner projects that work well as exploratory introductions to the craft! And they make great gifts for creative people or for people who want to try something creative.
Besides their sculpture kits, they have these really adorable kits for felted pouches. They make up into these cute little tool pouches that are perfect for your scissors, small tools, or similar little items. For those who want something really functional and really cute, these fit the bill!
I’ve brought in a few other kits from other suppliers as well, for some local events coming up when we hope to have the studio open for walk-ins, for “pop-up” retail. Our city’s chamber of commerce is still working on getting these events planned and scheduled. If they work out for us and we can handle the logistics of participating, I’ll announce it here on the website. If you’re in NE Kansas or surrounds, maybe you could make a day of it and stop by!
Limited Quantities Available Now
For those who can’t make it to Kansas (!), I’m adding some of the kits to the online shop. I’ve got just a few beginner needle felting kits from Bear Creek available here in the shop, for those who want to take a stab at wool felting!
I don’t know if I’ll carry these year round, but while I’ve got them in stock here for local events, I thought I’d list a few on the website to gauge interest. After all, maybe I’m not the only person in the embroidery world who has the multi-hobby bug and who likes dabbling with other textiles, too!
Give It a Try!
So that’s a little information about my secret felting habit. In the fall, it provides an occasional break from embroidery, but it keeps me close to the whole Textile Thing.
Try it! It’s fun!