It’s the first thing I talk about during my classes. It’s not that needle felting is inherently dangerous. I find working with a hot glue gun to be far more perilous. But it can be even safer if you adhere to the following suggestions.
Wear Finger Protection
Especially if you’re working on tiny projects. Rubber fingertips available at the office supply store are an inexpensive and useful tool to have in your felting box. Leather slips are available at some crafting supply stores, or you can make your own by snipping the fingers off a thin pair of second-hand leather gloves.
Store Everything in Bins
If you’ve got pets or kids in the house, this goes double. It’ll keep your fibres safe from bugs and dust and food smells, but it’ll also give you a safe place to put your stuff when not in use. On that note…
Always Pack Everything Up Before Leaving Your Workspace.
Or keep the door shut. If you have cats, this will save you a huge vet bill and a heap of heartache.
Use a Felting Pad
Might seem obvious, but I’m certainly guilty of trying to felt something real quick on my thigh or chest. Don’t do it. Not even once.
Foam block or Stabbit-Style, they will save your work surface and your skin.
Treat Yourself to New Needles
New needles require fewer pokes, go into work more easily, and are less likely to break or bend with a bad stab. Clean new needles are also less likely to cause infection if you should break skin with one. Treat yourself!
Neck, shoulder, and wrist injuries are a definite threat when needle felting. Taking regular breaks to move your body around, and change posture, is a great way to relieve stress on your vulnerable joints. Gentle stretching and a little walk will help you to be able to needle felt for longer, and more comfortably. If you’re starting to get sore, take a break.
Don’t Expect to Watch TV
You can’t listen to TV, but never stab while your eyes are otherwise engaged. It’s a surefire way to startle (or injure) yourself with a needle jab. Listen along to shows you’ve already seen, or enjoy a podcast instead. Audiobooks are a needle felter’s best friend.
Keep A Needle Count
If you’re using more than one needle, remember how many you have out so that you can account for them all when you’re packing up. Forgetting a needle in the couch or missing a dropped tool can have dire consequences for the next person using the chesterfield. You are a surgeon counting your sponges.
Be Aware of Your Non-Dominant Hand
If you’ve ever practiced knife safety, apply it to needle felting. If you’ve never practiced knife safety, please go learn about it. Seriously. It’s so important. Your local emergency room will thank you.
If your right hand doesn’t know what your left hand is doing, stop. Re-evaluate your choices. This is how you stab yourself. Think of your non-dominant hand as your guide hand, learn how to do “the claw” and keep that thing out of the way of your needles.
And, side note: if you do hurt yourself, take a break and wait to make sure there’s no blood. Sometimes the blood comes later, and the “blood, sweat and tears” we put into our artwork should really be figurative.
So with that I say: Stab on safely, friends.