Needle Sizes and Testing for Density

felt hearts

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching.  Being that my husband  showers me with gifts each Valentine’s, I can’t help but be drawn to all the hearts in shades of soft pink and purples in anticipation!  I began this felted task with a light heart and dreamily thinking of my beloved husband while pushing in and out with my sharp fantastic barbed needle in a size 36 T, but alas my swiftness and excitement were brought to an abrupt halt!

I had managed to construct 2 hearts, before the accident happened.  A larger purple heart and a smaller mint green one.  Then, while I was working on a Valentine’s puppy, my LAST 36T needle broke.  I managed to retrieve the broken end and resurrect my puppy, but now I had only the wrong sized needles for the projects at hand.  Not only, did I have to stop work on my puppy, but my bowlful of multicolored hearts that I had imagined also came to a quick stop.

felt hearts

needle felted puppy with heart
Now, that the sob story is out of the way; I will share the importance of this lesson.  The lesson is this, “needle size does matter!”.  A size 42 needle is going to get you nowhere, when you begin a new felted project a size 36 is a must to get you going efficiently; the soft mass of wool will simply take forever to felt if your needle size is too small.  By the way, with felting needles the smaller the number the larger the needle and vice versa.

To visually display this phenomenon, I will use my green heart which I began felting using a 36 size needle and a pink heart which I felted with a 38 and 40 needle.  The green heart(which I had the correct needle for the job!) is much denser than the pink heart.  You can test for denseness, using what I call the “squish test” or “pinch test”.  Simply “squish” the felted object between your fingers and see if it maintains its basic shape and when you release it, that it retakes its intended shape.  In the images below you can see that the green heart maintained its shape and that the pink heart was much more squishable.
pink hearts
green heart

pink felt heart

green felt hearts

Also I should add that not only will a larger needle(36) provide for a denser felted object, but they are much more efficient.  My green heart took 10 minutes to felt and the pink one took 45 minutes and I was still not satisfied with the outcome!

Squishiness and denseness is a matter of taste and style when it comes to your felted objects.  Perhaps, felting a sheep, you might want a softer, messier look; but with most of the objects I felt I prefer a very dense, clean look.  And I definitely think that the clean look is near impossible without the right needle.  That being said,  try your different needles and see which size you prefer for the beginning stage, like I said style and design can change your preference.  But for me, I definitely think a size 36 needle is essential in the beginning stages in order for me to get my desired outcome.  No worries, though, I have ordered 10 needles in a size 36 and they should be here very soon.  Hopefully I can finish my puppy and bowlful of hearts before the big day!

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One comment on “Needle Sizes and Testing for Density

  1. I’ve just started needle felting and wasn’t sure if it was ‘right’ to have a softer shape.. haha! I’m glad it’s really about preferences, and thanks for the info about needles and density!

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