Updated – if you are looking to buy this fibre from The Felt Box it is listed as ‘carded wool’ and not NZ Carded Wool specifically.
Time to be honest here: I’ve been putting off this review for a long time. A reeeeally long time. No matter how many times I attempt it, no matter how I approach it, I don’t feel that I can do it true justice. It’s a Herculean task I have before me – to review New Zealand (NZ) Carded wool. THE alpha and omega of fibres. The idiot-proof fibre. The fibre that never fails.
I have loved this fibre since the moment I discovered it, early on in my felting forays. If I’m honest, if I hadn’t come across this fibre early on, and especially The Felt Box (the online store where I buy it) there’s a very significant chance I would have given up felting by now. For every person who has ever asked ‘how do I get my creations smooth?’, NZ Carded is the answer. For every felter who has struggled to make a seamless gradient with their top colours, or who has wrestled with tiny features on a model, look no further. NZ Carded is the way and the future, and we worship no other fibre but thee.
Carded fibre, by its nature, is not suitable for every type of felting; this I can’t deny. But when it comes to the techniques it is suitable for, this is the fibre that excels. This fibre is the king of fibres and, as is fitting, it deserves the most glowing of reviews.
The question remains – am I up to it?
- Can be purchased at The Felt Box, which has an incredible variety of colours and pricing ranges
- Incredibly versatile and easy to use
- Provides very smooth, seamless coverage quickly and easily
- One of the more durable wools
- Easy to create stunning effects
- Not suitable for realistic hair/ long fur
- Felts small,so whilst it can be used as a core you’d probably do better to use something else for bigger pieces of work
Test One – The Coverage Test
The first part of this test involves testing how quickly and effectively a small ball (made from sheep wool) can be covered by the fibre being tested. This involves two separate stages – the first involves ‘light coverage’ (taking a thin layer of the wool to see how much coverage it provides), and the second involves ‘complete coverage’ (covering the ball so that the core colour is no longer visible.)
So this is where I start – with a small, solid core wool lozenge and a hefty handful of the rich Royal Purple you see in the image above.
Part A – Light Coverage
One of the things I like most about this fibre is the way it is layered, built up of sheets upon sheets of fibre so thin it’s almost translucent. This means that you can pull away very thin layers at a time to create some beautiful marble effects, as seen above. Here you can see the original core showing through the purple, and it gives a lovely, almost mystical effect. Using an even thinner layer makes it even more marble-like.
Felting a thin layer onto a core shape is incredibly easy and takes almost no time at all.
Part B – Complete Coverage
When you first unroll your carded batt, the roll has its own natural thickness, and this is the thickness you would use if you wanted complete coverage. The fibre felts onto the core easily and quickly, although if you want to achieve a very smooth surface with minimal fuzz or needle holes you would need to work at it a little bit longer – the more you work at it the smoother the results.
Part C – The Thumb Test
After giving the ball a relatively smooth finish, the next test involves me gently rubbing my thumb over the surface to see how quickly it gets scruffy. Honestly, I don’t have much to report here! It doesn’t scuff up much – gets a little fuzzy, but not much. It can certainly stand a fair amount of gentle handling without ruining your creation.
Test Two – Overlaying Contrasting Colours
The second test involves layering a thin layer of fibre in a contrasting colour to the original covered ball, in order to see the effect that this produces.
For this test I used the tube-shape I covered in purple earlier and chose a pale pink (‘baby pink’, I think it was) shade to overlay it with. Obviously I didn’t want to completely cover the original shape as… Well, that would be a pretty pointless test! Instead I layered lightly.
It looks so pretty, and the image is actually pulling a bit of an optical illusion on you here – it is completely smooth. Only the addition of the pink colour is making it look fluffy.
Test Three – Overlaying Similar Colours
As above, this test is designed to examine the effects of layering two different colours (with the under-colour felted on with complete coverage).
For this test I chose a darker green as the base colour and overlayed it with the paler green. The techniques used were exactly the same as in the tests above. I went from this…
Using complimentary colours in this manner is a brilliant way of creating a much more natural effect, as many of the colours are such close shades to each other that they transition both smoothly and naturally.
Test Four – Felting down smoothly
So, how smooth can you felt down this fibre? Well, here I present to you one of my earlier pieces:
Here you can see not only how smoothly the fibres have felted down (and it didn’t take an excessively long time to get it that smooth), but you can also see some of the effects that can be created by overlaying each colour over each other. Note that every colour you can see in the picture here is NZ Carded.
Is there really anything else for me to say? This fibre is so versatile, so easy to use, and produces such great results you’d be mad to not use it. Most of the creations in my portfolio are largely covered in this fibre, and for an example of the great control you can have over it, I present to you this – my Barn Owl which, with the exception of the white on the face, chest and legs, was entirely covered in NZ carded.
There are other clear benefits to this wool too. A crazy choice of colours and pricing ranges is one of my favourites, but the fact is this wool is just so usable. It’s fast felting, very easy to control, you can pinch tiny pieces off for detail work, make intricate shapes easily – even pulling sections off the main batt is easier than pulling wool off a rope of core tops. Honestly, I cannot recommend this wool more.
Would you create a whole model in this wool?
Yes, definitely – and I am specifically referring to the carded version seen in this review. However, I rarely do – and I’ll explain why.
NZ carded fibres felt small. That means that if you were to make a core shape it would end up about 25 – 50% smaller than the same core shape if you used the equivalent amount of core tops. So right off the bat you’re using more fibre to get something the same size. Secondly, this fibre is more expensive that core tops. Not massively more expensive, and honestly the Felt Box pricing is extremely good value (with some very very cheap options if you want to order smaller amounts). Even so, the main reason behind using core wool is so you can use cheaper materials to build up the hidden bulk without wasting your ‘good stuff’. So save your money and build the core out of core wool – and spend everything you just saved buying every colour in stock!
Please note that different clips may produce wool that differs from the descriptions given above. All reviews are based on the quality of the clip I am using at the time of review.
Some photographs have been edited to ensure images represent the wool as true-to-life as possible, as apparently the ability to take accurate pictures of wool is not one of my strengths.