Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A felted pet!

This little guy, who belongs to my brother, is named Edward.

This is a fun, cheap, and shockingly easy craft that makes a great little gift for someone sweet in your life - a valentine, perhaps.  Penguins are pretty romantic creatures in real life.

The project is a great idea from Martha Stewart.
  • half an ounce to an ounce of white or off-white wool roving
  • less than half an ounce of gray or black roving
  • itsy bits of orange and light-gray roving
  • a 6"x3/4" strip of wool, or a small amount of brightly-colored roving
  • a single felting needle, or a holder for several needles
  • needle-felting mat 
All of these supplies can be purchased online, or at a local knitting store.  Roving is the most gorgeous stuff; you'll want to buy extra just to roll in it.  It sells for a dollar or two per ounce.  Felting needles are covered in little notches or scales; it feels rough, and it takes the little wool fibers and hooks them together to make shapes, or adhere to other wool.  My needle holder keeps three needles, which makes the work go faster, and it's more comfortable in the hand than a single needle.

Gather a small fistful of white roving, and shape it with your hands into a clump the size and shape of an egg. Using one, two, or three needles, poke at it over and over again, turning it and manipulating it with your hands. The clump will begin to get denser and maintain its shape on its own. This is the penguin's body.

When you're satisfied with the body, make the head: repeat your moves, making a ball like a big grape.

Poke the head onto the body, wrapping some roving around to make a neck. Like magic, the shapes will begin to fuse!

Take a tiny bit of black roving, and gather it on the head to make the penguin's widow's peak. Poke that business on!

Make eyes and a beak: gather tiny bits of black and orange roving, shaping them into tiny balls and a cone, respectively, and poke them, now using a single needle, onto the poor penguin's face. You're going to feel terrible about this, stabbing a tiny penguin repeatedly in the eyes. You're a monster.

The penguin's body is probably a little swirly and pockmarked, so to make him soft and lovable, wrap another layer of roving around his neck and body, and poke all over with a single needle, just enough so that the wool holds on firmly but is still fluffy and soft.

For the penguin's wings, gather some dark roving, and lay it on the felting mat, poking with two or three needles until the wool begins to flatten and resemble felt. Continually neaten the edges, shaping the felt into ovals. If the wings are a bit fuzzy and messy for your taste, you can mist them with water and run an iron over them. Poke the wings onto Edward, just below his neck.

Gather a small bit of roving around the penguin's neck, and baste on with a single needle, as you did before with the body, letting the wool stay fluffy.

For the optional feet, repeat the felting technique you did for the wings, getting it really dense and flat. Then cut out a tiny, connected pair of feet - only the toes will be visible on your penguin. Now viciously stab the feet onto the penguin's bottom.

For a scarf, you can repeat the same felt-making process with some colorful roving, or just wrap some store-bought felt around the little guy's neck - it's cold out there in those piles of rock candy!

Ol' Martha has a tutorial for an adorable polar bear on her website - you could set up an ecologically inaccurate little tableau. You could also change the polar bear technique to make an Easter bunny. Who doesn't need a wool menagerie?!


  1. That penguine wouldn't happen to be standing in some rock candy, would he?

  2. He certainly is. Would you like a pound or two?