Needles, Wool, Mistakes, Advice and the One Tip - Kara Wilson from Handmade by Kara

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

I was watching Kirstie's Handmade Xmas one year & there was a needle felt artist on & it just caught my eye & I decided I was going to give it a try. It looked like a craft I could do sitting in the lounge in an evening after work. My first make was a hare ! My fiancé told me I was being too ambitious but I was determined & I did finish him but looking back I think a smaller project would have been a better idea as a first attempt :)

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

No one in particular, when I first started out I discovered Sarafina Fiber Art & found her YouTube tutorials really helpful. But I usually just scroll through Instagram, Facebook, Google & find inspiration from there. There are so many talented people out there you're never short of ideas or tips on how to do something.

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

The hardest projects are always commissions of people's pets or animals. They are very time consuming & it's quite stressful trying to get them to look really lifelike & photos don't always show their colours correctly. There has been an occasion where I had finished a project & the customer sent more photos but the colour was very different to the first photos. I could have cried but luckily the first set of photos I received were the true colour. 

I think the craft is so adaptable to anyone's style if there's a technique which is difficult there is often an alternative way of achieving the same outcome. The hardest thing I have had to learn is to say no when I can't meet customer deadlines or feel that it's a project I don't think I can do.

4. What are your favourite needles to use?

I like the triangular needles, usually a 32 Gauge to start the wool off & then a 36 gauge to bring it tighter & then add finer detail with a 40 gauge. I like to smooth the final item off with a twisted 40 gauge needle. But the triangular 40 gauge is most certainly my go to needle.

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

IT has to be the carded wool from The Felt Box :) the range of colours is perfect & it gives a lovely finish. I also like the Blue Faced Leicester wool. It's a beautiful colour & all my hares have a woolly jacket made of it. I also found a lady on Facebook who supplies the loveliest locks of curly wool. She has an amazing range of sheep locks which has been essential when I have made poodles, cockapoos, Santa heads etc.

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

I think you just need to be true to what you want to make & how you want the finished item to look. I think everyone has their own idea of how something should look but at the end of the day each item is a little piece of art & all artists have their own style & view.

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

Buying a ready made kit. I started with one. The kit was lovely but came with merino wool & I still don't get on with using it as it's so hard to get the smooth finish I like. Love merino wool if I am creating an item which has a longer / fluffy coat.

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

Just to make what you enjoy making in the style you want & find the most enjoyable. The pieces I have enjoyed making always look the best & make you want to make more! Use as many different tips & ideas & mold them to your own style & skill. Always post them on social media, everyone is so friendly, helpful & encouraging.

About the artist:  

To find her creations, you may click the links below:

Facebook: Handmade by kara
Instagram: @handmade_bykara