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At the start of my felting journey I attended a local felting group meeting where the issue of breeds and shrinkage was being discussed. I realised just how little I knew about the subject (which was, in retrospect, a fraction of the tip of the iceberg) and so I went book hunting to discover more. I discovered Ruth Lane’s (American Textile Artist) book and am so pleased that I did because it very quickly became the foundation for my knowledge base on the topic and a go to reference book in the intervening years.
Before I start I think it’s only fair that I declare an interest here. While Ruth and I have not met in person, I have more recently written guest posts for the Felting and Fiber Studio, for which Ruth is one of the coordinators and we have gotten to know each other a little during (author) group meet-ups on Zoom. That said, my opinion on her book was established long before we came into contact with each other.
This is a big book and the sections are helpfully colour coded at the top of each page. The reader is given a brief introduction to the history of felting and the following section gets straight down to business discussing wool its properties and varieties. This section also provides a good grounding in the language of fibre, grading systems; count, microns, staple length crimp etc. Results of experiments on various readily available breeds are discussed as is possible usage and the felting capabilities of other non-ovine breeds. Embellishments are also discussed.
Section 2 covers fleece preparation through to carding and dyeing and there is a short section on colour theory and inspiration and design.
Section 3 focuses on traditional wet felting and takes the reader on a step by step journey through the process of wet felting two and three dimensional pieces. There’s a great section on attachments and inclusions and also a very understandable segment which clarifies shrinkage calculation.
Section 4 provides tips and techniques on Nuno felting and a variety of fabrics are tested for shrinkage rate and overall appearance.
Section 5 investigates needle felting from recommended fibre and equipment to sculpting 3D shapes, covering the core, making a face, making and covering wire armatures etc. Suffice to say there is sufficient guidance in this section for even the novice needle felt maker to produce the cute teddy bear project while a more experienced individual could produce the ‘old man’ project which is based on the techniques learnt throughout this section. Techniques for needle felting (hand and machine) 2D pictures are shared and there are two projects to try while using these techniques.
The final section showcases spectacular work from felting artists worldwide.
This book is full of thought provoking and interesting material. It is packed with well photographed instructions that are easy to follow. It is well written and easy to understand. This still is one of my go to reference books so I would recommend it for both novice and established felt makers.

By Ruth Lane

Published by Creative Publishing

Book Categories.
Level of experienceBeginner, Intermediate, Experienced
Print statusIn print