This tutorial is designed to specifically show you how to use the remarkable Hamanaka Felting Yarn, which you can purchase from Sweet Pea Dolls (review coming soon). This is an easy-to-use felting yarn that you use in addition to normal techniques, giving your finished creation a cute woolly texture.
For this tutorial you will need:
- Core wool
- White carded fibre (I used Hamanaka Aclaine white from Sweet Pea Dolls)
- Black carded fibre (I used Hamanaka Aclaine black from Sweet Pea Dolls)
- Pink carded fibre
- Grey Hamanaka Felting Yarn from Sweet Pea Dolls
- 2 x black beads (plus sewing needle, black thread and scissors)
- Grey thread (for the nose)
- Black polymer clay (ie Fimo)
- Felting needles (star/triangle 36 and 38)
- Felting mat
- Glue – I prefer to use fabric glue
Step 1 – Making the head and body
1.1 – Create a small ball using a 36 triangle/ star needle and the black fibre, and add some additional fibre to the top of it to create the shape shown in 1.1
1.2 – Using your core wool, and your 36 triangle/ star needle, create a lozenge shape that is quite firm to the touch, then cover with the white fibre. This will be the body – it should be 2 1/2 times the length of the head, and approximately the same width as the head.
1.3 – Sew the two beads tightly onto the face, one a little higher than the other (and don’t forget to cover up the thread entry/ exit points with some more black fibre).
1.4 – Using a pinch of the white fibre, add some white around the beads to make the eyes more visable and cartoonish.
From this point onwards, for the rest of the tutorial, switch to your 38 (star or triangle) needle.
You should also sew a large X across the sheep’s muzzle at this point, using your grey thread – this will represent the nose.
1.5 – Sew the head and the body together tightly.
1.6 – Take the pink fibre and wrap it around the bottom quarter of the torso – this will be the ‘naked’ part of the sheep showing.
Step 2 – Adding the wool
2.1 – Take one end of the Hamanaka Felting yarn and lay the very end right in the join between the head and the body.
In the picture below you can see that the yarn has quite an unusual texture – it’s made of alternating loops of yarn and straighter pieces linking them. The trick when it comes to using this yarn is to ONLY felt the straighter yarn that’s between the loops.
2.2 – Starting from the point where the head meets the body, slowly start wrapping the Felting Yarn around the torso. As you start winding the fibre around, felt the yarn between the loops directly onto the torso – it will felt onto a felted surface in the same way normal felting wool does.
2.3 – Carry on wrapping the Felting Yarn around the body until you pass the beginning of the pink wool – it really is that simple! There are just a few things to remember:
- Leave a tail of the Felting Yarn approx 6 inches long! You will need this later.
- Go slowly. Felt the wool down as you go along – don’t wrap the wool round everything first and then try to felt it down. It you do that the yarn will slip out of position, or might bunch up.
- Make sure each new row is very close to the previous row – this yarn is quite thin, so you need to keep the rows right next to each other.
- To get the best coverage and most even distribution, try and arrange it so that the loops on each row interlock with each other.
2.4 – Once you’ve cut the Felting Yarn (having left a longish tail, as mentioned in the previous step), it’s time to start adding wool to the top of the head. Felt the end of the wool to the top of the head to keep the starting point secure.
2.5 – You will felt this to your sheep in the same way as before – work from the outside going in, creating a circle around the head like a crown.
2.6 – Once finished, the added Felting Yarn will give more height to the head.
Step 3 – MAking the limbs
3.1 – Take a piece of black polymer clay and roll it into a rod approx 0.75cm thick. Divide it into for sections approx 1.5cm – 2cm long each.
3.2 – Pinch one half of each piece and roll it gently to make half of the limb narrower and longer – this will turn each piece into a limb with a foot attached.
3.3 – Using a long thin tool like an awl or a lollipop stick, press an indentation into the base of the hoof. Bend two of the limbs slightly as in the image below (these will be the arms).
Cook your limbs in an oven as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to let them cool before you place them onto the sheep!
Step 4 – Making the ears
4.1 – To make the ears, take two small pieces of the black fibre, approximately the same size, and felt them onto your mat in oval shapes. The wool will stick to your mat when you felts them directly like this, so when you are happy with the shape peel them off and carefully felt the sides in to emphasise the shapes and to make them smooth. Leave one end of each ear looser, so that they felt onto your sheep easily.
4.2 – Felt the ears onto each side of the head, with the looser part described in step 4.1 being the part that actually joins onto the head.
Step 5 – Placing the limbs and finishing off
5.1 – To place the limbs, snip holes on your sheep where indicated in the image below. The holes need to be wide enough to accommodate the end of the limb, and approx 0.5cm deep – you may need to have a few tries to get this right.
Remember, if you have bent two of the limbs these should be the arms.
Be careful when inserting the limbs, as they may snap. Once you are happy that they will fit into the holes, remove them, cover the ends in glue and re-insert them. Leave to dry.
5.2 – With the limbs in position, make sure your sheep sits comfortably on its bottom.
And you’re done!
Well nearly! The very last thing for you to do is to take the tail of your Felting Yarn and drape it over one of its arms. It’s a good idea, once you are happy with its positioning, for you to glue it into place. Once the glue has dried and you are happy with it, feel free to snip off any excess wool on this ‘tail’ as you prefer.
I hope you enjoyed making this sheep, and if you have given it a try I’d love to hear from you in the comments, or on my Facebook page. Please feel free to share to Pinterest or Facebook etc, but if you do please credit me as the creator of this tutorial.