Needles, Wool, Mistakes, Advice and the One Tip - Fiona McGravie from Lola Grey's Lovely Things

1. How did you discover needle felting, what inspired you to have a go and what was the first thing you made? 

About 10 years ago, I was going to be home alone for a couple of weeks and needed something to occupy myself. I bought myself a hare needle felting kit from Jenny Barnett and I was instantly hooked!

2. Do you have a favourite needle felting artist whose work you follow?

I’ve been a huge fan of Jenny Barnett since I bought my first ever felting kit. I absolutely love her creations!

3. Which projects do you find the trickiest and what has been the hardest thing to learn?

When I first started felting, legs and tails used to give me nightmares! Learning to wrap wool around wire helped!

Nowadays, I find freehand leaves tricky at times but the use of scales to get the correct amount of wool makes a big difference.

Judging by the state of my fingers, I don’t think I’ve learned to use finger protectors enough!

4. What are your favourite needles to use?

When I’m working, I always have a variety of needles beside me: 36, 38, 40, 42 triangle, 38 star, 38, 40 spiral and a reverse felting needle. Different needles work on different projects, but my ‘go-to’ needles are 38 star and a 40 spiral. A 38 star felts quite quickly and a 40 spiral gives a nice smooth finish. I often finish all over with a 42 triangle too.

5. What is your favourite type of wool to work with?

Without doubt, my favourite wool to work with is NZ. I’ve used it for almost 10 years and I’m now comfortable with how it ‘behaves’. I also like Maori and Shetland. I’m really not keen on working with finer wools.

6. What is the worst piece of advice you keep hearing for needle felters?

That everything has to be done on a full armature. I personally don’t always do this and I often find making limbs separately is easier. But find what works for you. There’s no right or wrong way!

7. What common mistakes do people make when they start out?

I think it’s felting too loosely. With a bit of extra work, you’ll get a firmer item which will last longer and be able to add more detail and definition.

8. What is the one thing a beginner could learn today that would  make a difference to their work?

Don’t give up. We all make mistakes and sometimes things don’t turn out the way you want them to. It can be disheartening when you’re just learning but please persevere!

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