Needle felting is a method of creating felted objects without using water. The special needles used to make 3D sculpture, jewelry, adornments and 2D art have notches along the shaft of the needle that catch fibers and tangle them with other fibers to produce felt. These notches are sometimes erroneously called "barbs", but barbs are protrusions (like barbed wire) and would be too difficult to thrust into the wool and nearly impossible to pull out. There are many sizes and types of notched needles for different uses while working. Needle felting is used in industrial processes as well as in individual crafting.
Needles used for crafting are often very thin needles, sometimes fitted in holders that allow the user to utilize 2 or more needles at one time to sculpt wool objects and shapes. The single thin needles are used for detail and the multiple needles that are paired together are used for larger areas or to form the base of the project. At any point in time a variety of fiber colors may be added for detail and individuality, using needles to incorporate them into the project.
The kawaii style of needle felting was made popular by the Japanese culture. Kawaii means cute in Japanese and to felt in the kawaii style just means to make the object cute. Most kawaii needle felt sculptures have small, minimal detail, faces and are brightly colored. They are more cute and playful compared to the more traditional needle felt which is more rustic and earthy.