Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Made Cafe Class: Feeling Felty - my favourite class yet!

A few weeks ago I attended the Feeling Felty class, held at Made Cafe Whitley Bay, the last time the class ran must have been a good 6 months ago, I've been dead keen to try it since seeing the creations from the previous class and I like birds - and decided that I wanted one for my house (as a pet).

I've always had a thing for birds, when I was growing up my dad had an aviary and kept budgies, doves, cockatiels, finches and canaries and we had birds as family pets; a budgie called Brian, a cockatiel called John, we nursed a baby cockatiel for a few weeks called Percy.  Even now, my dad and brother race pigeons and dad has chickens.  I have an ornament-budgie as my office-desk companion and I would love to have chickens (I currently have 2 carboard cutouts in the house) and I'd like to have a pet  Myna bird (who I'd call him Verloc).  And I am a bit of a twitcher (I used to be a member of the Young Ornithologists Club with the RSPB).

Back to the class.

The class was led by a lady called Carolin from Birds in the Attic and Feltwerk she provided us with all the equipment we needed to create a needlefelted bird.

There were 6 on the class and no one had any real experience of needle felting before.
Carolin talked through the process of needlefelting and creating basic shapes.
We made a Christmas pudding decoration first (pic at the end) which helped us to get the basic technique of stabbing the barbed needle through the wool, creating shapes and adding layers of colour - everyone created their own unique take on the Christmas Pudding.

And then we were ready to create our birds - and staying with the Christmas theme we chose to make robins.

We had a couple of pictures of robins on the table to work from (if we wanted), but essentially we could make them how we wanted.  I was keen to make a 'real' looking bird so made sure I kept checking with the pictures on the table.

A ball of un-spun wool

So here's how my robin (now called Steve) was made....

We began with this 'uncarded wool batt' which looked like a cross between the stuff you get out of your hoover/tumble drier and belly-button fluff.  It was actually un-spun wool- the stuff that people would turn into wool using a spinning wheel.  We were also advised that it wasn't merino wool, because apparently merino wool is quite hair-like and a bit different to work with.

Carolin gave us two different sized (ever-so-sharp) needlefelting needles to work with and talked through the process of getting started, which was all incredibly simple. 

Watch the birdie
Then we all fell silent, stabbing the wool and creating the birdiness, the head, the wings and the back - leaving the tail until the end.  We were all engrossed, in flow, as they say - and loving the transformation, turning a bouffant of wool (akin to my hair when i let it dry naturally) into a smooth, tight, defined shape that began to resemble a bird.

The fiddliest part of the course was creating the legs - from copper wire, and everyone seemed to struggle a bit, not as easy as Carolin made it look.  Adding the the legs to the body was easy - just needlefelt them in place (no sewing, no glue).

Once the base colour had been needlefelted we then added other colours in thin layers, the white breast colours, the tell tale red breast, the dark-brown head and back.

We were all absorbed in the activity, and nearly didn't stop for a cuppa, but we did.  Jeannie brought a plateful of delicious cakes to nibble on (all part of the workshop). 

Teabreak over, we worked on: thinned, shaped, needlefelted and cut the tail into shape, finished off with eyes (needlefelted) and beak (yes, needlefelted too) and he was done. 

Oh hang on, I just need to tinker with it a bit more...
and a bit more....
and a bit more....

And now he was done.

Steve the robin
 And here he is with the other robins that were made on the day, as you can see everyone's was completely different.


It was a lovely craft to learn how to do and I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in it, it's definitely something I'd like to do again, and I've already been researching googling where to buy supplies from, and listing what I'd like to make next: a pigeon, a blue macaw, a rabbit, a snowman and a cat (for my auntie).  Oh and here's that Christmas Pudding (it's a Christmas tree decoration).

Steve is now living nesting on the mantle piece in our living room - I'll give him a stroke and say hello to him every day.  I love Steve.


  1. They are amazing!

    ps you were a "No Reply" Commenter so I thought I would leave you a note here to let you know my Fabric Club is now live and available! Check it out here and do ask if anything isn't clear. Thanks for your enthusiasm and hope you will sign up! Perfect Chrissy pressie ;-)

  2. Your Robin is really lovely. I LOVE Robins. I have nearly finished making mine to hang on our Christmas Tree. I only turned the PC on to find a photo of a real Robin as I couldn't remember how big his red chest should be. I will post a photo of him soon. Marion x