Do you know your Merino from your Herdwick? We’ve rounded all the best felting wools so you can do your best work. All the felting wool we’ve chosen for this article is natural and ethically sourced – so read on to find out which is the best core wool versus that which is best for adding details. Do you have a favourite breed that we’ve missed out on? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re new to needle felting or need a refresher, check out our beginner’s guide to needle felting for all the tools and equipment needed, as well as a super easy needle felted ball project to get you started. We also have several brilliant needle felting projects here on Gathered. Check out these needle felted birds and these needle felted animals, both created by needle felting superstar, Gretel Parker. We’ve also rounded up some of the best needle felting books you can buy – we think they would make an ideal stocking filler or birthday gift! Want needle felting stuff ready to go out of the box? Browse all the best needle felting kits.
What is felting wool?
Felting wool is wool that has been processed and carded into a rope of fleece fibre. You will often see felting wool advertised as slivers, batts (large, thick sheets of wool), tops (long ropes of carded wool), rovings, or combined wool. Natural felting wool mostly comes from sheep, goats, and alpacas. Merino felting wool is one of the most popular types of felting wool and comes in a wide range of different colours – you’ll often see Merino in bundles of bright colours on Amazon or in craft stores.
What to look for in felting wool
Look for 100% natural felting wool from reputable companies. In particular, when buying angora, look for a cruelty-free company – angora rabbits moult naturally every 4-ish months, so there is no need to remove the fur any other way than helping with a gentle brush or occasional snip for the rabbits’ welfare. Goats, sheep and alpacas are sheared as normal and this does not harm the animal.
Felting wool that contains a man-made component (such as nylon), are better suited to spinning and as such, will not felt as well and are best avoided for needle felting projects.
Different breeds of sheep produce different types of wool. For example, Wensleydale sheep produce beautiful curly fleece, which is great for adding surface texture to a finished piece (or a mop of curly hair to your needle-felted people!).
When starting out – the easiest thing to look at is whether the felting wool is coarse, medium or fine. If you’re buying felting wool online, then the seller will often list their felting wool with micron measurements – these refer to the thickness of each strand, so the smaller the number, the finer the felting wool.
If you’re working on average or larger projects (including the needle felting projects we have here on Gathered), then it’s a good idea to use medium or coarse wool. The strands in fine wool are so thin that you need to use much more, and it would take much longer to create a finished piece. Fine wool is ideal for adding details, colour, or surface features, while coarse wool or medium wool is best for building up the main bulk of the project. However, for wet felting, fine wool is recommended.
You’ll already be familiar with fine wool breeds – they include cashmere, alpaca and angora. Medium wool breeds include Texel and Moorit, while coarse wool breeds include Swaledale and Herdwick.
17 of the best felting wool
1. Corriedale Cross sheep felting wool
Corriedale sheep have a medium-fine, dense fleece with a lovely crimp. As a result, it felts quickly making this an excellent core material (often called “core wool”) for needle felting projects (ie – for making the bulk, or the insides of a project). Wool from this New Zealand breed is rarely dyed but is favoured instead for the natural colours of the fleece – from silver through to blacks, fawns and reddy-browns. When using Corriedale felting wool, we recommend adding details or surface colour with finer Merino felting wool on top.
2. Angora fibres from Pippin and Clara (grey and chocolate)
Buy now: £10, Angoras of Eden on Etsy
When buying angora fibre, it is very easy to buy unethically obtained fur – but thankfully such malpractices are gradually being exposed and ethical sellers are now standing head and shoulders above the rest. Angoras of Eden are one such seller, and their much-loved pet rabbits, Pippin and Clara, produce the softest grey and chocolate coloured fibres for felting, which they sell in their Etsy shop. Angora is great for blending with other fibres.
3. Hand-dyed Wensleydale locks
Buy now: £5, Chilton Wensleydales on Etsy
This gorgeous felting wool comes from pedigree Wensleydale sheep, who graze the rich pastures of Chilton Grounds Farm in rural Buckinghamshire. It’s hand-dyed using Gaywool dye from Australia, and with five-star reviews across the board – it’s easy to see why buyers are raving about this felting wool. Ideal for adding the finishing touches to projects.
4. Teeswater natural white curly locks
Buy now: £4.99, Crafty Jam on Etsy
Teeswater sheep have a very distinctive fleece that hangs in long, curly locks. The felting wool produced from these sheep is soft with gorgeous natural colouring tints. These natural locks have been taken just before the wool is carded (brushed), and Crafty Jam on Etsy produces this felting wool in Devon from happy sheep:
5. British breeds felting bundle #1
Buy now: £12, Hawthorn Handmade on Etsy
This bundle of felting wool contains five natural shades from British breeds of sheep, including Manx Loaghtan (brown), Blue Faced Leicester (oatmeal), Blue Faced Leicester (white), Jacob (dark grey) and Swaledale (light grey). Ideal for needle felting animals or people, these natural shades are great for adding detail and colour – and with five different breeds in the pack, you’ll get a feeling for which you like best for bigger projects.
6. Pastels felting wool bundle
Buy now: £12, Hawthorn Handmade on Etsy
Hawthorn Handmade has a huge selection of felting wool in their Etsy shop – we love this pastels felting wool bundle! This Merino felting wool collection comes in ten beautiful colours: candyfloss (soft pink), catkin (yellow), eggshell (pale pink), lavender (soft purple), mink (warm taupe), peach (pale orange), peppermint (pale green/blue), salmon (deep pink), seal (grey) and teal (green/blue).
7. Baby alpaca fibre bundle
Buy now: £28.14, Uniquely Alpaca VA on Etsy
“Baby” alpaca actually refers to the softness grade – not necessarily the age of the animal. Carded alpaca fibre is one of the most versatile types of felting wool – it’s naturally soft, non-itchy, silky and lightweight. So it’s a good option for needle felting as the fibres bond together well, but also has a good handle when spinning.
8. Discovery pack
Buy now: £6.72, World of Wool
This pack of felting wool is a brilliant way to get to know your breeds, and it comes in at a very nice price point, too. The Discovery Pack from World of Wool includes a sample from each of their breeds: 25g x 18.5mic Merino, 25g x 23mic Merino, 25g x Blue Faced Leicester, 25g x Shetland, 25g x Jacob, 25g x Devon, 25g x Swaledale and 25g x Herdwick. You’ll soon be an expert on which felting wool is super soft, which is silky, and which is textured and bulky!
9. All creatures great and small – Merino bundle
Buy now: £19.92, World of Wool
Ideal for needle felting animals, the All Creatures Great and Small bundle from World of Wool contains 500g of 23micron dyed Merino wool in a variety of colours. Thanks to its fine texture, Merino wool is ideal for adding surface detail onto a body that has been largely made using a coarser type of felting wool.
10. Angora fibres from Wilfrid, Mistletoe and Snowdrop (white)
Buy now: £10, Angoras of Eden on Etsy
If it’s luxury you’re after, then Angoras of Eden on Etsy have you covered. These ethical producers of angora wool brush rabbits Wilfrid, Mistletoe and Snowdrop when they naturally start to moult to bring you a sustainably sourced supply of angora wool. We love this Etsy shop!
11. Hand-dyed White Water wool locks
Buy now: £5+, Tregaver Fibre on Etsy
White Water is a crossbreed of sheep – Teeswater and White-Faced Dartmoor. This felting wool is 100% hand processed and hand-dyed in a mixture of blue and green tones – we think it would be perfect for creating mermaid hair! Farmer Clive’s flock of White Water sheep are kept to high welfare standards – receiving recognition from the Royal Cornwall Show.
12. Felting wool from rescue sheep
Buy now: £6.99 from Ewe Love Shop on Etsy
Meryl Sheep (love it) over at Ewe Love Shop on Etsy rescues sheep and runs a sanctuary with over 170 rescued sheep! This felting wool comes from happy sheep that are safe for life – and the exact names of the sheep are listed in the product description – this batch is from Dolly, Billy, Eric & Ernie, Ellen, Leslie, Erin, Alfie, Sheila, Spotty and Edie! The felting wool has been washed and processed into soft cream wool slithers – it’s coarser, so great for building up the bulk of a project before going in with Merino detail. And if you want a specific amount, the seller is happy to accommodate – just message them for a quote. Can’t say fairer than that.
13. Shetland felting wool from rescue sheep
Buy now: £6.95, Ewe Love Shop on Etsy
Okay – we love this shop. Here’s another type of felting wool – Shetland wool. Like all the felting wool in Ewe Love Shop, it comes from rescue sheep, and Shetland wool is dense, durable and soft. It has a ‘wilder’ look to it, with lots of natural colour variation – but it felts well, and it’s also good for spinning.
14. Merino wool tops, pastel selection
Buy now: £8.20, Pure Wool Hut on Amazon
This selection of Merino wool from Pure Wool Hut contains 90g of a selection of pastel colours. Its silky soft texture allows you to create a luxury finish, and at 28-30 microns is thicker than some of the other types of felting wool, making it a good all-rounder option.
15. Felter’s palette Merino wool roving kit
Buy now: £17.12, Divinity Fibres on Etsy
This 19-micron felting wool is super fine, so it’s silky smooth and perfect for adding small details to your needle felted projects. The fine nature of this felting wool also makes it a good choice for other multimedia projects, such as incorporating it into embroidery pieces.
16. Bergschaf Tyrolean Wool
Buy now: £4.18+, Bure Bure Slippers on Etsy
This type of felting wool comes from mountain sheep found in Austria and Italy (also known as “rock sheep”). The coarse nature of the wool makes it an ideal choice for larger projects especially, and thanks to the thicker strands, it felts together exceptionally well. Felting projects will be quicker with this Tyrolean felting wool, and you can spend time shaping the character of your miniature masterpieces.
17. Light grey Herdwick wool/roving
Buy now: £3.75, The Wool Emporium on Etsy
Herdwick wool is much favoured among the needle felters, and The Wool Emporium over on Etsy have a lovely selection sourced from British sheep, including this beautiful light grey.