Easy Peasy Guide To Felting Needles
Overwhelmed by all those felting needle choices out there? Are you seeing stars (and triangles, and spirals)??
Have no fear! With just two or three different needles in your arsenal, you can felt pretty much anything under the sun!
Here’s a quick overview to set your mind at ease!
With the exception of a reverse barb needle, most felting needle “types” are very similar to each other. Sure, there are little “nuances” that differentiate one from the next, but in the end, those differences are very subtle. Similar to paint brushes, it all quickly becomes a matter of personal preference, so play around, experiment, and have fun!
TRIANGLE BLADE NEEDLES: A triangle felting needle has 3 sides, typically with two or three barbs per side. Triangle needles are the most common needle type and can be used for both sculptural and 2-dimensional needle felting
STAR BLADE NEEDLES: A star felting needle has 4 sides, typically with two or three barbs per side. Because they have 4 sides, they push more wool with each poke when compared to a triangle needle. Just like the triangle needle, they are great for all purpose felting.
SPIRAL BLADE NEEDLES: A spiral (or twisted) felting needle is the same as a triangle needle, except that the blade is twisted. Instead of the barbs being located on three distinct sides, they are evenly spaced as they “corkscrew” up the blade. Contrary to popular belief, a spiral needle does not “twist” the fibers as you felt. The only way that happens is if you physically twist the blade while it is submerged in your work—and you could easily do that with any type of felting needle to achieve the same result (although we don’t know of anyone who does that!) One nice advantage of spiral-shaped needles is that they seem to leave less noticeable needle hole marks when compared to the same size needle in a triangle or star design. That’s always a plus!!
REVERSE (INVERTED) BARB NEEDLES: A reverse/inverted barb needle works opposite of the way a regular felting needle works. Instead of catching and pushing fibers down as you poke the needle into your project (as would happen with a triangle, star, or spiral needle) a reverse needle will pull fiber out of your project as you withdraw it from your work. Reverse needles are great for creating fuzzy textures (as with animal fur) and they are also great for blending layers of colored fiber.
When it comes to felting needles, it's all about the gauge!! You can felt pretty much anything from start to finish with a standard 38 gauge felting needle (triangle, star, or spiral), but your fuzzy felting endeavors will become MUCH easier and efficient if you keep the following in mind: Heavy gauge felting needles grab lots of fiber, where as fine gauge needles grab very little. Heavy gauge needles make quick progress when starting projects, but they don’t work well for adding tiny details. Fine gauge needles are perfect for smoothing and finishing the surface of your projects and for adding fine lines and details, but you’ll be poking forever if you try to start a large project from scratch with one! Fine gauge needles also leave less noticeable needle holes in/on your finished work.
As your project gets “tighter,” switch from a heavier gauge needle to a fine gauge needle. (Fine gauge needles will penetrate dense work more easily and will allow you to continue firming and shaping.)
The term “gauge” refers to the thickness of the needle— the higher the gauge number, the thinner the needle (and the lower the gauge number, the thicker the needle). Heavy gauge needles are much sturdier than fine gauge needles. Fine gauge needles break very easily, and so always be extra careful when using them!
Purple Moose Felting carries needles in the following gauges:
32 Gauge - Heavy
36 Gauge - Heavy/Medium
38 Gauge - Medium
40 Gauge - Medium/Fine
42 Gauge - Fine
Quick Reference Guide To
Purple Moose Felting Color Coded Needles
TRIANGLE BLADE NEEDLES:
Dark Purple: 32 gauge heavy triangular (Good for starting large projects - it is a VERY aggressive, thick needle, that only penetrates very loose fiber. It is only suitable for the very beginning stages of felting.)
White: 36 gauge medium/heavy triangular (Great for starting small projects since it grabs lots of wool very quickly. Also great for joining felted pieces together. This needle is NOT suited for fine detail work.)
Green: 38 gauge medium triangular (A great all purpose needle. You can felt many projects from start to finish using just a 38 gauge triangular needle!)
Yellow: 40 gauge medium/fine triangular (A medium/fine gauge needle that is thin - and fragile! This needle is perfect for the finishing stages of your project when you want to fine tune any details without distorting the overall shape of your work. It is great for final smoothing and fuzz-clean-up because it won't leave big, noticeable holes the way a thicker needle would.)
Pink: 42 gauge fine triangular (A fine gauge needle that is ultra thin - and ultra fragile! This needle is great for defining those super tiny details and for anywhere that you want ultimate control over your work. Also great for any type of finish work!)
STAR BLADE NEEDLES:
Light Blue: 36 gauge medium star needle (Great for starting small projects since it grabs lots of wool very quickly. Also great for joining felted pieces together. This needle is NOT suited for fine detail work.)
Orange: 38 gauge medium star needle (A nice medium gauge needle for general felting.)
SPIRAL BLADE NEEDES:
Beige: 36 gauge heavy/medium spiral/twisted blade needle (Great for starting projects and joining large pieces together.)
Red: 38 gauge medium spiral/twisted blade needle (Great for general felting.)
Blue: 40 gauge medium/fine spiral/twisted blade needle (Great for finishing work. The spiral blade design helps diminish the appearance of holes.)
REVERSE BLADE NEEDES:
Aqua: 36 gauge heavy/medium reverse blade needle (Great for pulling lots of fiber for blending or creating fuzzy texture)
Black: 38 gauge medium reverse blade (Great for pulling small amounts of fiber for blending or creating fuzzy texture)
Gray: 40 gauge medium/fine reverse needle (Great for pulling miniscule amounts of fiber for blending or creating fuzzy texture)
Just starting out and not sure where to begin? We highly recommend our "Triangle 10 Pack"!
This is a standard assortment of 5 different-gauged triangle felting needles (two of each size) that will allow you to felt anything that your heart desires! Perfect for beginners and professionals alike, you can’t go wrong with a good set of triangle felting needles! (5 Pack also available)