Monkeying Around: Removing a Broken Felting Needle

Let me take you back a few days.  I’m in the middle of a felted project: a monkey!  These were my thoughts at the end of that project: “Wow, 4 hours and I’m finally close to done. This monkey is turning out so adorable. Ha, he’s holding a banana! Just one eye to touch up and I’m all ready to show him off. It broke? I can’t see the needle! Where is it?!”.

Has this ever happened to you?  I’ve broken a handful of needles before, but this was the first time it disappeared into my project.  I was heartbroken for a moment; then I realized maybe someone who is not a child could still enjoy it.  Perhaps I could give it as gift to an adult with the additional warning of “Please don’t let any child play with this.”.  But I intended this for a children’s toy and the disappointment just wouldn’t go away.

Felt Monkey Toy

But luckily I have the best husband in the whole world.  After working a very long day and before he even sat down to relax, he offered his hand at removing this broken felting needle from my project.  I was nervous that he was going to ruin it, but it was already unplayable so I eagerly jumped at his help.  He carefully started prying little fibers off with the sturdy end of the broken needle.  He told me that he was “going to have to remove his eye”.  I swallowed and watched him maim my once adorable little monkey.

Needle Felted Monkey Toy Being Repaired

Finally, he found the broken bit of needle.  It was right where I suspected just a little farther inside his head.  My husband proceeded to grab the tweezers as if he was removing a splinter from a child’s foot or playing the game “Operation”.  My childhood memories took over as I halfway expected to hear a buzz.  Finally, he pulled the little bit out of the monkey’s head!  I was so happy.  He handed me the fuzz that had been removed during the monkey’s surgery and told me I should replace exactly that much wool into the eye socket and then felt a new eye into place.  One eye!  That is all the repair that was needed.

My Felting Needle Broke

So I went to work the next day.  Definitely, this one eye took me longer than previously, because I had to go extremely slow and be very careful with the needle size I chose.  His head was very dense all ready and the wrong needle at the wrong angle could have landed me in the exact same spot.  But I did it.  I finished my little banana-holding, bright-eyed, big-earred monkey!

Needle Felted Monkey with Banana

I hope that this story gave you some insight as to the appropriate way to remove a broken felting needle from YOUR project.  Just remember the exact place that the needle broke and please don’t use scissors to cut open the project unless all else fails.  Cutting the fibers will make it very hard to refelt after removal.  Simply pry the fibers away in the exact spot you suspect the needle is lodged; you can use the sturdier end of the broken needle or tweezers to do this.  And remember felting a repair means that you are felting on dense material to start with and a very small needle is required to do this.  Unfortunately, the very small needles are the most brittle; so, extreme care is necessary in any repair.    And please, nobody ever give a child a needle felted piece with a broken needle in it; while the needle may seem like it will be lodged in there forever, over time it could weasel itself out and end up poking your young child’s hand or worse being swallowed by your child. Happy felting and don’t worry; you CAN locate that broken bit!


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