When you last tuned in, your hero (uh--me!) left you with something that looked like this:
Now I'm going to explain as best I can in words and images, the craft of needle felting.
First you need a felting needle.What it is essentially is a pointy needle with tiny barbs on the end of it, poking out of the sides. You can buy them at AC Moore craft store in the knitting section, or here. They're fairly inexpensive, but you will need a few. Some have coarser barbs and others have smaller, closer together ones that are used for more detailed, tinier sections.
Here's my stash, stuck in a ball of felt inside an old silver punch cup.
Once you have a needle, you really should have a chunk of upholstery foam to lay the felt on while you're poking the needle into it.
I just hold the felt in my hands, but you're likely to poke yourself, which I often do. I just forget to pick one up when I'm at the fabric store.
Here's that felt again. I started molding it into the shape I wanted while it was damp.
When it dried in the morning, it kept its shape. One might call this "blocking" which is what knitters do to shape their knits. See my Entrelac Headband post.
To begin, you need some wool, roughly twice the size of the design you want to add to your piece of felt.
I want to make polka dots on the larger piece of felt, each about the size of a pea, so I took a chunk the size you see above.
Next, I twist it up and wrap it around itself into a circle for the polka dot.
Then lay it on the felt where I want it to go. With my coarser felting needle, I start punching into the wool, connecting it to the larger piece of felt behind it.
What's happening is that the barbs are connecting the fibers, bit by bit. You bring the needle in and out, pulling the fibers together. It's as if the fibers are being sewn together with the felting needle. When factories are making commercial-grade wool felt, they use large machines with hundreds of these type of needles to adhere the wool together.
Here's the felt with green dots. Each one took about 2-3 minutes.I added more dots in blue and magenta, and then turned the felt back into that circular shape and needle-felted it together, forming a tube. The final result: a coffee or tea cozy for hot paper cups.
I'd like to add some embroidery when I get a chance. Sorry I didn't have a paper cup on hand to model this. I thought about cutting the edges down, but I like the raw, organic line that it creates. I did roll the top down a bit, since I just liked how it looked.
This is what the inside looks like. You can see the colored wool fibers poking though to the inside.
As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless. I've seen needle felted dolls, animals, ornaments, and embellishments of all time. Just do a search for it and you'll find tons of examples.
Hope this post made sense, and that maybe you'll try needle felting sometime!