Adding a handle to your needle makes felting more comfortable and gives you more control. It's also a neat way to identify which needle is which at a glance. The trick is to create handles that suit your particular grip but if you're like me, you will use different grips depending on which task you're doing. Here's how to make your own handles and mould them to make felting even more fun.
YOU WILL NEED
Your collection of felting needles
A felting mat
It doesn't matter which type of wool you use for your handle. I've experimented with natural, coarse wools and super-fine merino fibres and both work well.
The main thing to remember is that you will need to felt the wool really firmly once you're happy with the shape so that there's absolutely no movement whatsoever.
Start by scrunching up a scrap of wool and felting it into a rough ball until it's quite firm but loose enough that you can insert a needle through it.
Flat felt a small disc of wool on your mat and, while the edges are still fluffy but the centre is nice and firm, attach it to the top of the ball to trap the needle in place.
Continue shaping the ball and making it really firm all over. Hold it in your hand and work out what shape you would like. For precise work and fine spiral needles, think about leaving the ball quite small. Shape it to rest comfortably in your palm or the crook of your finger while still allowing you to slide your third (guide) finger down the needle shaft for delicate, finishing work.
When you're creating a felted core with star or triangular needles, you will be using lots of firm, deep stabs and so it's more comfortable to create a longer handle. Simply add more wool to the top of the ball and felt it into a sausage shape before moulding the centre slightly to suit your grip.
What about shaping the handle with a custom curve? I find this really easy to use for both core work and fine detail. To make it, I created a soft ball on top of my initial shape and then carefully worked it into a shape that fit neatly into my thumb and forefinger.
This shape suits the way I hold my needle but yours may be different, so have a play, make a few different styles and see which works best.
Colour code your different needles so you can easily see which one is which.
If you would like to try out some different needles, we sell a three-pack in our store, which includes a triangular, a star and a spiral needle. You can purchase them here with free UK delivery.
Triangular needles - Good all-rounders for creating intricate shapes and adding details.
Star needles - Have more surfaces and more barbs, perfect for felting the main body area quickly.
Twisted needles - Felt evenly and make smaller entry holes. Good for creating a smooth finish.
I hope you have fun customising your needles and that this helps you improve your felting skills. If you're looking for some new projects to try, check out the digital download section here.