Since I just got back from CHA, I’m already feeling a little bit of trade show overload, so I spent most of yesterday wandering the marketplace floor and stopping to chat whenever I saw someone I knew. The highlight of the day: I stopped by the Kollabora booth and Brett Bara taught me how to make a pom pom! (She also snapped the photo of it on my head.) As I’ve mentioned before, I can only make complicated things—if you ask me to do something really easy, I’ll screw it up spectacularly. Turns out, pom poms are no exception. Mine was pretty bad. (Mind you, I tied it onto my head and wore it all day anyway.) Today, I think I’ll do a little shopping—I’ve got my eye on some needles and a few skeins of yarn—then park it in a random spot and knit with whomever passes by. I mean, a girl’s gotta take a break sometime!
For a recent project, I needed a whole pile of fairly uniform felted wool balls. I thought it would be easy enough to make my own—I’d seen quite a few tutorials kicking around the crafty blogosphere—but no matter what method I tried, I always seemed to end up with the same ugly ridges, cracks and creases. In my frustration, I started experimenting with different combinations of felting techniques, and finally stumbled upon the answer for creating perfect round felted wool balls, with no washing machine or wool yarn core required!
Supplies: * Wool roving, dyed or natural * Detergent, mild and unscented * Hot water
Step 1 Gather a large handful of wool roving, fluffing and separating the fibers.
Step 2 Wrap the roving into a tight ball. (There will be some flyaway fiber at the beginning of the process, so don’t expect immediate perfection!)
This ball will be about twice the size of your finished felted ball.
Step 3 Place the balled fiber onto the felting surface. With a felting tool or felting needle, begin to intertwine the fibers and fuse them together by poking the needle into the center of the ball.
Step 4 Continue working your way around the ball, smoothing any loose fibers down and poking them into place. In areas where layers of roving overlap, take special care to poke the layers together until the surface is smooth and uniform, and no evidence of the overlap remains. (This will prevent ridges and gaps from forming in your finished felted balls.)
When your needle felted ball is round and has a mostly smooth surface, you’re ready to move on to water felting.
Step 6 Add a few drops of gentle detergent to the bottom of a large bowl, then fill it with the hottest water that your hands can safely stand. Dip a needle felted ball into the water and begin to roll it lightly between your palms in a circular motion. As the fibers fuse, periodically return the ball to the water bowl, then continue rolling, increasing the pressure of your hands slightly as the ball becomes firmer. The rolling process will take at least one to two minutes per felted ball.
Note: When you first start rolling, resist the urge to press hard—this could create creases on the surface of your felted ball.
Step 7 When the surface of your ball is completely smooth and uniform, the felting process is complete. Squeeze any water out of the ball, then press the ball in a towel. Once excess water is removed, roll the ball in your hands one last time to round it out, then allow it to dry for at least 12 hours before using.
In the middle of holiday crafting madness, my fellow CRAFT writers and I decided to take on one more crazy last-minute project: a CRAFT holiday ornament swap with a one week deadline. (I know, we’re insane.) I made these quick felted mitten ornaments for the team, and now you can too!
Here’s the tutorial for all of your Christmas Eve crafting needs:
Supplies: * Wool felt craft sheets in your favorite colors or upcycled felted sweaters * Additional felting wool (optional) * Silver thread (or thread in contrasting colors to the felt) * Decorative ribbon
Tools: * Needle felting needle * Foam rubber block at least 4″ thick or felting mat * Card stock or cardboard * Marker * Fabric scissors * Paper scissors * Paper hole punch * Hand sewing needle * Straight pins
Step 1 Make a pattern by drawing a mitten shape on a piece of card stock or cardboard, then cut it out with paper scissors.
Step 2 Pin the pattern to a piece of felt and cut out two mitten shapes. One piece is for the front of the ornament and one is for the back—they can be different colors.
Step 3 Using the paper hole punch, cut out as many felt dots as you would like to put on your ornament.
Step 4 Place the first mitten shape on the foam rubber block or felting mat. Using the felting needle, felt the polka dots to the mitten shape until each dot is completely attached to the mitten. Repeat the process with the second mitten shape, making sure that it’s facing the opposite direction as the front so that the dots will be on the outside when the two sides are sewn together.
* You can also use felting wool to create your own shapes and patterns.
Step 5 With wrong sides facing, whipstitch the two sides of the ornament together in a counterclockwise direction, starting at the top left corner. Right before you finish stitching around the top, insert a 6″ length of ribbon into the top of the ornament and stitch it in place with two cross stitches. When you reach the beginning, tie off the thread and tuck the knot into the space between the ornaments.
Done! Plus, for the especially crafty, mitten ornaments also make great gift toppers.
Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you have a fantastic rest of the weekend, and get everything on your crafty wish list.