Buying Fiber for Felting
All animal fiber felts. There is no one fiber that felts the best - different varieties of sheep, alpaca, and rabbits produce fiber that create different felted textiles: coarse (good for a rug), fine (for a scarf or hat), lofty (ideal for needle felting), etc. The list below is for materials that I've found work well for the projects I teach in my classes.
Avoid wool roving in little packages sold at big craft chain stores – these work best for needle felting and don’t wet felt very well.
Be sure not to buy wool marked "superwash." It is chemically treated to not felt. That fiber is for spinning yarn.
Fibers that work best for needle felting are a little coarser and less processed (not combed) than the fiber I use for wet felting. These attributes help conceal the poke marks that the felting needle makes.
Felting Needles come in many different gauges. In my classes, we usually work with a 40 triangle needle - I find this felts pretty fast and also leaves a smooth finish on the felt. If you’re working bigger, or sculpting a core, use a coarser needle (36 or 38) and then work up to a 40 or 42 for finishing details.
You’ll need a foam base to be a soft place for the felting needle to land. I recommend a dense upholstery foam, available at fabric stores, and very often available for cheap at SCRAP.
Portland Area Stores with Felting Supplies
Silverton, OR: Apples to Oranges
Support our local fibershed! At these events you can buy fiber direct from the farmer, and sometimes meet the animals who grew it. These events also have a good selection of fiber-related workshops onsite.
Other sources for materials we use in class
Oregon Leather Co. - leather by the pound for making slipper soles.
Fiber Trends - pre-cut and pre-punched suede slipper soles (or pads).
Georgie's Clay Co. - liquid latex for painting on slipper bottoms.
Uline - 1/4" packing foam for resist material (comes on an 85' roll).
Biokleen all natural dish soap, olive oil soap - available at food co-ops, natural grocery stores.
Rug non-slip mat - brand not important, this is just an example.
Pencil Roving - easily felt stripes and lines in both wet felting and needle felting.