Needles, Wool, Mistakes, Advice and the One Tip - Joan Moncrieffe from Joan Prowse Art

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

I wanted to create images that weren't possible with my usual methods of creating artwork, so I began searching for a new medium. I went to a local Fibrefest show and stumbled across needle felting.

My work is inspired by my Christian faith and the very first item I created was "The tree of life" which was way too complicated to create with no experience, but I just wanted to produce the image I had in my head.

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

I am discovering needle felting artists all the time and thankfully the standard is improving as time goes on although I don't follow a specific one. When I started there were very few people using the technique and I was somewhat of a pioneer in Britain especially working at large scale.

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

I think the full size 3D lamb was the most technically challenging as it required structural support and a much more robust armature which was tough to work with. The sheer scale of it was another aspect!

4. What are your favourite needles to use?

Triangular twist needles 40g

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

It very much depends on what I am creating - merino is my preference for 2D pictures as well as alpaca and even angora rabbit fur as it is the whitest fibre I know. 3D work I prefer Jacob's fleece.

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

To buy finger guards and start on 3D figures with no experience. If you learn the correct technique and begin with 2D creations you can concentrate on getting the technique right and then finger guards will never be necessary unless you have a motor neuron problem or some other disability. While you may occasionally stab yourself as you progress, this will rarely happen just like the odd occasion when you might break a needle.

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

They run before they can walk. Although the technique is essentially simple, there are a few things that should be paid attention to which will enable you to enjoy the craft without injury or disappointment.

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

Do not think that using a coarser needle is better for a beginner - you will leave unsightly holes in your finished piece and if you are breaking needles regularly then it is down to technique rather than the needle size 9 times out of 10. For example, I have only ever used a 36g needle for one project in my needle felting career working on the core of a life size animal. I almost always work with a 40g or 42g needle for everything.

About the artist:

Joan has a facebook page @joanprowseartfelt. Her website is