Do you know you can transform shapeless wool fibers into colorful felt balls that really bounce? Making a felt ball is incredibly easy; simply wind wisps of wool into a blob, dip it in hot, soapy water, and gently roll it into shape with your hands. Colors and patterns can be added to make the results resemble marbles or Super Balls. Smaller versions can be used to make necklaces and barrettes.
-Felting wool (Available in a wide range of colors, felting wool is prewashed and carded, or brushed straight.)
-Pitcher of hot soapy water (A formula of 4 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing detergent to 6 cups of water enables the wool fibers to cling together and become felt. Use detergent that does not contain scents or dyes.)
-Baking tray (to catch excess water)
-Sponge (to sop up the water so it can be reheated)
-Kitchen scale (To make several same-size balls, you'll need to weigh the wool before you start.)
Making Felt Balls
Photo 1: Begin with a small wad of wool, then wrap lengths of wool tightly around it. Keep adding layers until your fluffy ball is approximately twice the size you want it to eventually become. Saturate the ball in the hot, soapy water, and then gently roll it from hand to hand without squeezing. Keep doing this for about ten minutes, dipping it in the hot water as it cools. The wool will seem like a wet, scraggly mess, but don’t worry. Soon the ball will begin to harden.
Photo 2: Now add designs. To make stripes, work strips of wool into the ball with your fingertips. To make dots, wind some wool into a disk, like a cinnamon swirl, then dip it and work it in with your fingertips. After adding designs, roll the ball in your palms some more, dipping if it cools. Stop when it has shrunk to the size you desire. Rinse with cool water, and let dry.
Making Felt Beads
Photo 3: Make felt balls the size of large beads, and use a toothpick to poke a hole through each one before it hardens. To make a necklace, thread balls on embroidery floss, tying a knot on either side of each bead to space them apart. To make a barrette, pierce the bead off center; and slip a bobby pin through the hole.