I’ve tried to make felt balls before but I really didn’t like the process – gather felt, roll into ball, dip into hot and sudsy water *over and over* until the shape holds and is hard – which for me, at a little over 10 minutes/ball, wasn’t really fun. Last week, I heard from a friend that there’s a super-simple way to do them, it takes no time at all, and they come out needing only a tiny bit of neatening.
Wool for felting (sometimes called wool roving or wool tops)
Pair of pantyhose you don’t mind giving up for this process
Felting needle, for the final neatening
Washing Machine, Dryer (dryer is optional)
(above:) gather your felting wool, and gently tear off very small amounts of felt. If it’s very important to you that all the balls be the exact same size, you can use a kitchen scale to make certain with their weight. Since this was my first time using this method and I was just making these for fun, I did somewhat different sizes, but they’ll still look pretty in a little bowl (or maybe I’ll let Tchotchke, our cat, have a couple to play with).
(above:) I took a little felt and laid it out right-left and the next layer up-down to help start the basic felting process. I picked up the felt in one hand, and rolled it around from palm to palm just to make a simple circle shape.
(above:) here’s the very basic circle shape I made with the felt.
(above:) I took one leg of the pantyhose and made a knot at the toe. I placed the first ball down to the knot, and made a tight knot just above it.
(above:) Here’s my first group – I made eight balls. Now, take the pantyhose and put them in the washing machine with a little detergent. Just program the washer for a quick wash (30 minutes or so) using hot water and the fastest spin. Once my set came out of the washer, I put them in the dryer for about ten minutes.
(above:) Here they are, just out of the dryer. Take scissors and cut the knots to release each of the felt balls.
(above:)Here’s my felting needle (I tried to do a close-up shot to show the little ‘barbs’ at the bottom of a felting needle – these barbs are what catches the fibers and causes them to mesh, or felt). My friend was right – the felt balls were completely felted when I cut them out of the pantyhose, and they just needed a little touchup with a felting needle to make them completely, perfectly round.
Here’s the first one! This method was great – so easy. Next time, I’m going to do even more of them per batch, and try making a couple of necklaces (just poke a hole through the ball before it’s completely hardened to make space to string it through).
There’s also a nice tutorial from Martha Stewart Kids on how to make felt balls here.