This idea is not new to me and I have no idea where it originates! I am also very new at actually explaining how to do something in written form so I hope this is somewhat helpful! And excuse the sometimes wonky format…can’t figure it out.
I had wanted to get a wool ball for the girls for a long time and then when I scored a big bag of wool batting for just a few dollars, I decided to try it myself. After looking up a few videos and instructions, I went for it. I decided to make one for Cecily’s birthday. The first wet felting attempt, well, it went okay but I wanted the ball to be really firm and to bounce. So I did a little more research and decided to try the washer and dryer method with a couple more. I ended up with what looked like dreadlocks. So I went back to the original one and tried to salvage it so that we had a gift for Cecily for her birthday. She started pulling it apart pretty quick so I knew it was back to the drawing board. Being able to find videos and tutorials is great but for me there is nothing like the real thing so when Makiko offered to show me how to needle felt, I was excited. Through a combination of needle and wet felting, I ended up with this. I loved making it and the girls love playing with it. It is firm and has a little bounce. It is soft so won’t break things as easily and babies love to hold it. Wool is non-toxic and anti-bacterial so safe for even chewing babies. I haven’t seen any of the fibers in Cecily’s mouth yet and she loves to gnaw on it!
First Felted Wool Ball
I found a couple of videos that were pretty helpful in getting started and explain in ways that I couldn’t do with just pictures. Basically I will just add some tips and things that Ihave been figuring out as I go.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ydfz8JG_3UA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-JEppDINzI The first is a little long and has two parts but she explains really quite well.
A cute girl!
What you will need:
Wool Batting or Roving (100 % wool): I have undyed wool that I have been using for the inside and dyed for the outside. Felting Needle (a special barbed and very sharp! needle) Foam Block (one for felting specifically or just a thick one that is pretty soft.) Dish Soap, Hot Water and Rubber gloves (my own personal tip) and an old nylon
core of the ball, needle felted well. Keep adding thin layers and needle felting until you have the size that you want. To avoid breaking your needle, push it in straight up and down not at an angle. If you need an angle go soft and slow.
Using hot soapy water, felt the ball. I use rubber gloves so that the water can be really hot and so my hands don't start feeling like wool. I just do it in the sink so that I can heat the water as I need.
in the nylon ready for the washing machine
After the first felt in the washing machine and dryer.
Add some more layers and any design that you want...I forgot to take pictures of adding the design
Ready for the final cycle in the washing machine and dryer. I do them with a load of towels but make sure that your towels are darker than the ball otherwise you will dye your towels! You can give another quick hand wet felt if you want here.
The finished product beside one that I didn't hand felt before the washing machine.
This one is super squishy
I am squeezing the same amount and this one is much firmer.
A few extra ideas:
If you want a little jingle, add a bell right to the center at the very beginning. If you have access to a less expensive undyed wool use that for the core and add the color later. I do them with a load of towels (conserve energy and adds some felting umfph to the balls) but make sure that your towels are darker than the ball otherwise you will dye your towels. Give the ball a quick shape before putting it in the dryer. Finally, if you live near me and are like me and learn better hands on, I will be happy to show you how.