A felting needle has small barbs in the end that, when stabbed through wool, catch on the scales of the fibre and push them together. The more and more you stab, the more fibres matt together slowly turning the wool into solid felt.
Felting needles are quite delicate and can break easily if used incorrectly. Make sure you are stabbing in and out at the same angle, not twisting or bending the needle. If the needle won’t go into the wool easily, don’t force it! Either change to a finer needle, or if the piece is very hard you probably want to stop felting it to avoid over felting.
Felting Needles do go blunt over time, and much quicker if you’re working on wire or pipe cleaners. If pieces are taking longer to felt you probably need to change your needle.
Felting needles come in different gauges. The gauge number refers to the diameter of the needle. The higher the number, the finer the needle so a 40 gauge needle is finer than a 36 gauge.
Different needles come with varying numbers of barbs. The more barbs, the quicker the felting but fewer barbs will give you more accuracy with fine detail work.
Imagine using felting needles as you would sandpaper. Start off with a bigger, quicker needle for bulk work and shaping, and move on to a slower but finer needle for surface and detail work.
Triangular Felting Needles – Barbs on 3 sides