I’ve picked up a new hobby, which should be no surprise. I seem to dabble a little in all the needle crafts. I’ve been trying to find something to do that can be constantly interrupted, while not being yanked out of my hands, bumped, unravelled, and so on. I received my pack of wool roving and needle yesterday, and have made my first creation.

Needlefelting is the new craft sweeping the nation, ahem, and is simply wool poked a whole lot of times with a needle until it becomes felted. It’s a special needle, with little barbs on it. You still end up poking your fingers, of course, so I had to re-learn the trick of putting on the band-aids before I poked myself, instead of after.

You’ll notice he’s a little fuzzy, and that’s because I have only the coarse needle, I need to buy a fine one (and you can’t buy just one of course, you need to buy a packet, and by then you might as well order more wool colors!). The fine needle is for finishing, and will smooth him out.

At first I was getting caught up in the excitement of it–why spend $3 or $4 per ounce of wool? Why, I can buy a whole shorn sheep wool at the fair, wash and card it myself, and then dye it whatever I want! But then I was thinking about the work involved in all of that, spending the money on the carders, buying the dyes, and it all still adds up. So I’ll just buy a little bit of wool here and there until it looks like this won’t be another throw away hobby.

Speaking of carding, I’ve been meaning to explain something about fibers. I think about this every time I put on one of my high-quality tee shirts, and also every time I put on one of my very cheap tee shirts. The high quality one gets softer and softer with time. The cheap one gets scratchy and stiff. I read this a long time ago, let’s see if I can explain it to you. When the tag reads “combed cotton” it means that the fibers have been aligned all in the same direction. Picture a box of matches with all the matches lying aligned. And then picture a box of matches with the matches all laying higgeldy piggeldy. When the fibers are all combed and lying in the same direction, they mat down with each washing and become sort of felted. When the fibers start out all higgeldy piggeldy, they get even more messed up with time in the washer and drier.

This is noticeable in poor quality bath towels. The expensive towels absorb water off your body, the scratchy cheap towels mostly move the water around and thins it out a bit so it evaporates quicker. Cotton loses its absorbency after time, so the scratchy towel really is almost useless even though technically it is still a towel. You probably notice this if you stay at a cheap motel–the towels are next to useless.

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