When you are creating a felting project what kind of wool use for felting it is very important. There are a lot to choose from and lots of different terms. Knowing what these are can help. Although in the beginning, you may start with a kit it doesn’t take long to progress from this to choosing your own wool colours and types.
With felting, you have both wet felting and needle felting. The type of wool that you use will change depending on which one you choose and the type of project that you are doing. As you get more experienced you will gain your own preferences and this may not be in line with the recommended wools for the task. Below I outline all the different wools that are there are and which are suitable for needle felting and why that is.
The great thing about wool for needle felting is that it’s very versatile and you can create many different types of projects from very small and fine to very large coarse and chunky.
Deciding What Kind of Wool to Use for Felting Projects?
The type of wool that you use for your felting really depends on your project and personal preferences.
There are two things to think about when you’re buying the wool that is the type of wool and whether it is a roving or a batt etc.
The advice and given below is for general guidance only. The reason for this is because although certain things are better than others for particular projects in needle felting there are no overriding rules on this. If you feel that you want to use something that’s different, for instance, Merino is recommended for a particular project and you prefer to try something else then there is no reason why you shouldn’t.
To start with its best I think to stick to the guidelines and then to branch out what you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt. In addition, some countries have got wool suppliers that specialize in felting and needle felting wools. They have there wool bats, rovings etc designed specifically for this task which does change the qualities of the wool and what they will do slightly.
Types of Wool For Needle Felting
Merino wool has very distinctive qualities. It is a lovely soft wool, that feels very silky to the touch. All the fibres run in the same direction. The way fibres lay is an important consideration when choosing your wool. Also, the fibre length is about 7.5-10cm (3 to 4 inches).
I felt with Merino wool all the time making small creatures. It’s one of my favourite wools to use. I started using it because I was told it was the best when I first began to needle felt. However, at the time while I knew it was harder to use I didn’t realise that it was one of the most difficult to use as well or why. The reason is that I have already stated all of the barbs and fibres run in one direction with Merino. This is increases the difficulty and time for a needle felting anything. It’s definitely not the best thing to start learning with although it is what is in most kits.
Merino wool is most suited to wet felting rather than needle felting. That’s not to say you can’t use it; as I say I do use it all the time.
Merino wool comes from sheep from lots of different countries Including New Zealand, Australia, The Falkland Islands, South Africa and Spain. Although originally it started out in Spain.
Corriedale wool comes from New Zealand. It’s a bit rougher than either Marino or Shetland However, it’s still soft. And it felts up quite quickly and has a good length.
It naturally comes in a beautiful range of deep dark brown, soft cream and slate grey. If you want to use Carradale wool and have brighter colours there is also a good supply of dyed ranges.
Again Shetland wool is a bit bulkier than Merino wool however it’s still quite fine. And of course, as the name implies it comes from the Shetland Isles off of Scotland.
However, due to its popularity, you can now find it world over. It comes in both a range of natural colours and also you can get it dyed if you want to. It’s also, perfect for working on smaller felted pieces.
Manx Loaghtan is a lovely wool to needle felt with because it’s thick and chunky which means it felts really quickly perfect if you want to do a quick project. However, only comes in one colour, which is brown. Which is a bit of a pain. However, because of its soft lustrous nature, this toffee coloured wool is still very popular.
The Manx Loaghtan comes from The Isle of Man just off the coast of Britain It is a rare breed of sheep that was in decline however that has recently been reversed.
Jacobs wool is similar to the Manx Loaghtan wool. It’s difficult to know where this wool originated as there seems to be a little bit of dispute about it. It is a medium quality wool, that is perfect for many different projects. It comes in mostly natural colours such as white black cream and grey etc.
Herdwick wool isn’t a type of wool I really use like that mainly because it’s only suitable for adding extras as it’s difficult to felt Into a neat look. Which, in my view, makes it very limited. In addition, I can only find it and different shades of grey.
Herdwick comes from the old Norse word herdwyck which means a sheep pasture. Herdwick wool is native to Lake District in Cumbria in England.
Blue Faced Leicester Wool
Like Marino blue faced Leicester wool is softer and finer. Again this means that it will take a much longer to felt. If you’re planning on using Bluefaced Leicester it might be a good idea to use Core wool first and to cover your project with this afterwards.
Why not make your wool felted item extra special by using Norwegian wool which it’s wool comes from one of the oldest sheep breeds in the world. Norwegian sheep date back as far as the Neolithic period.
Norwegian wool is rougher than Merino wool. It’s fantastic for felting. However, due to its rough nature, it’s not ideal for projects where you want a smooth finish.
Alpaca wool, of course, comes from alpacas, not sheep. The wool has a soft luxurious silky cashmere feel to it.
While alpacas originate from Peru, these days you can find them all over the world.
Alpaca wool comes in a beautiful range of natural colours with everything from toffee brown grey-white, silver and a dark brown and of course black tops.
If you mix the darker colours with lighter ones you get a soft colour mix that looks stunning. It does make for perfect smaller animal projects. It may also be possible to get some in dyed colours.
Your needle felting wool will come in different microns. A micron is a measurement that shows you the diameter of your wool. Microns start the lower end of the scale with a very soft fine wool like Merino and work their way up to the coarser wool. Although of course with each type of wool that can come in different microns.
For general felting projects a good size mid-range micron is ideal this is about 23 to 25 mic.
To Sum Up
There are lots of different types of wool that you can choose for your wool bats and tops etc. Which one you choose will depend on your own personal preferences or the type of project that you are doing. You may have your favourites but it’s unlikely unless you are making very similar things that you’ll stick to the same type of wool all the time. It’s a good idea when starting out to experiment with the different types of wool so that you get a feel for each one.
Make it easy on yourself unlike what I did and start with an easy to felt wool.
What experiences do you have? And have you had any difficulties in the past? Or what wool would you like to try based on what I’ve said above?
The love to hear your experiences or issues in the comments section below.