Needle felting with Gretel Parker

Needle felting as opposed to wet felting, is something that I can still do - and hurrah for that! In fact it was a felting needle that opened the door into the whole felting world for me (hence the name of this blog).

The technique involves using a sharp sliver of metal that has several "barbs" cut along it's length. When the needle is stabbed into a mass of wool, the barbs catch and entangle the fibres, thereby creating a nonwoven material. The main difference between wet and dry felting, is that in wet felting, entanglement is created by causing the scales on the wool fibre to open and catch with each other. In dry felting the wool fibres are tangled around each other without the fibre scales having to open. For this reason, it is possible to needle felt all sorts of fibres, not just protein based fibres such as wool.

However needle felting isn't on the City and Guilds syllabus, I thought I'd go and do a workshop  with one of the best in order to pick up some extra skills.

Gretel Parker  is a professional needle felter, designer, art toymaker, illustrator...  if it wasn't for the fact that she is so down to earth, you could hate her for being so talented.

 The little bird we created is one of her many designs and it is the design that makes Gretel's work so scrumptious. After making birds, people started on hares, sloths and a butterfly. As with all good things, the basics are quick to master, but a lifetime could be spent refining your skills.

Image from Mollie Makes website
Gretel's highly refined work is on this months copy of Mollie Makes - just leave me one to buy in the shops as I don't get a subscription! I can't stress enough that if you get the opportunity to see some of Gretel's work or take some tuition from her you should. She is very generous with her time, sketchbooks and ideas.

Thanks Gretel - it was a great day.


  1. Oh, goodness, I am blushing! I was hugely delighted and flattered that you and Jenny came all that way to attend, it was brilliant meeting you both (MUST do it again with more time) and was so pleased to pass on one or two things - your little bird looks lovely on that hill, making the wings jointed really brings it to life. Hope you can find time to try a doglet, would love to see it if you do!

  2. A fabulous day indeed...hope we get to see you again :-)

  3. Love that little bird. I came across a lady making one of Gretel's little dogs last week in a meeting and came straight home, ordered some wool and felting needles AND THEY'VE ARRIVED TODAY! Can't wait to get started - the kids might not get any tea ;-)