I had been crocheting for at least 7 years before I discovered that needle felting onto your projects was even a thing, and I’ve been absolutely in love with the method ever since! It opens up so many more amazing possibilities in your work that I find other methods just can’t compete with. Needle felting itself is pretty easy to get started with: all you need is a little bit of wool roving and a felting needle, and start stabbing away to get your desired shape! However, when I was getting started with using needle felting specifically for creating details on amigurumi, I found a lack of resources to help me out with getting started. Now that I’ve been using this method for a few years, I’ve compiled a guide of 5 tips and tricks that may help others who are looking to begin needle felting onto crochet!
Needle felting onto crochet: 5 Top Tips
1. Tools are important
Thankfully, you really don’t need much to get started with needle felting, and you won’t need any extra tools for felting onto crochet specifically versus normal felting methods. Of course, you’ll need a felting needle as your main tool, and some wool roving for your materials. There are lots of starter kits you can purchase online that offer a small toolkit including needles, along with a wide range of wool colours. There are a few small things that I’ve learned along the way that might make things easier when it comes to using these vital tools and materials on amigurumi!
First of all, your needle. When starting out I didn’t even consider the possibility that there were different needle sizes and that some might be easier than others to work with on crochet! I struggled with my first few projects as it turned out I was using a needle that was too big. After a bit of trial and error, I’d recommend going with a 42 gauge needle for the best results. This is the smallest size, often used for fine detail, and is much easier to handle than the bigger needle sizes specifically when felting onto amigurumi.
2. A sneaky material hack
Secondly, the wool material you use. A lot of the time, I’ll have a ball of yarn that is the perfect colour for an area I want to felt, especially if I want the colours between a crocheted area and felted area to match. What a shame you can’t translate yarn into the wool roving you need for needle felting… But wait – you can! Simply cut a short piece of yarn, separate the individual strands and tear/fluff them up a little, and volia! You’re good to go. I’ve used this trick countless times in my projects – it saves a lot of hassle in trying to find and match colours between crochet and felting.
Use reference pictures! When getting started it might be a good idea to either find pictures of existing characters online (your favourite Pokémon would work perfectly!), or draw your own design, before you take your needle to your crochet project. You’ll find it much easier to felt when you have a concrete plan to follow. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t be more experimental though, if you want to. As I said before, felting onto your projects opens up a world of opportunities so don’t be afraid to get out there and create something more spontaneous!
When working on original projects, a method I’ll often employ is to take a picture of my assembled amigurumi, take this picture into photo-editing software (I’ll either use Procreate for iPad or if I’m feeling lazy, just the photos app on my phone!) and then you can draw possible felting design ideas onto your crochet to your heart’s content. This way, you can work out a design and have a clear reference in your head before even taking your needle to your project.
4. Simplifying shapes
The number one tip I can give for felting onto crochet is the break it down into small, simple shapes. If something looks complicated or if there’s a lot of different colours, you need to split it apart. Thinking in just circles and ovals is much easier than thinking about felting an eye as one! Look at the pictures below as an example:
Here you can see that I built up Sprigatito’s eye in just a few simple steps – the white base, pink iris and then the smaller details inside like the pupil and highlights. It may initially look more complicated but actually, once you break it down, it’s just ovals and circles layered on top of one another!
5. Practice and patience!
So you have your tools and materials sorted, what now? Practice, practice, practice! It takes a lot of patience and needle stabbing to get to a good finished product. Try giving needle felting a go without the crochet to really get a feel for the method and how it works. This is actually how I started – I felted a few small stand-alone projects before I came anywhere near my crochet with a felting needle! Watch some tutorials and play around with the material, don’t be afraid to mess up – this is all good practice, after all!
Just like crochet, I view needle felting as a game of patience more than anything else. Take your time and enjoy the process! Both the learning journey and the actual act of needle felting demand a lot of time, so if you don’t get it right away then there’s no need to worry! Good luck, and if you’re looking for some good amigurumi needle felting projects to get started on, perhaps take a look at my patterns below.