Something happened when I was pregnant with our daughter. I think they call it nesting. Suddenly I had the urge to "create" things. Pretty things. I bought some awesome fabric from Ikea and made curtains for the nursery. I bought yarn and knitted a baby blanket - ok truth be told that project is still sitting half finished. One day I was browsing Etsy for inspiration (this was before Pinterest existed) and came across a mobile, made of felted balls, that I began to lust over. I considered just ordering it. I was sure that felting was something that was way outside of my comfort zone. But then I googled "felted balls" and realized this just might be something I could handle.
Well, after much deliberation I decided to take the crafting plunge and try my hand at making felted balls (and ultimately a mobile similar to the one I was pining over). It turned out to be surprisingly easy and I think it turned out well!
So, if you are crafty this is child's play. If you're not, well it's still pretty simple.
Here's what you need to get started:
- Yarn for making the balls. You can use pure wool if you want but it's not necessary. As long as the yarn you are using has some wool content they will work out just fine. It's a great way to use those little scraps from your other crafting or knitting projects.
- Roving. Now this has to be wool. This is the material that you will cover your balls with and that will create the "felted" part of your ball. Depending on what you have locally you may find this in a local fabric or specialty craft store. I bought my first batch on Ebay for a fabulous price. I later discovered that we have a locally owned wool store and purchased my second batch from them.
- Panty hose. Don't throw away those ones with the nasty runs in them. This is the perfect use for them!
- A washing machine. Ok, I'm sure you can find a way to do this without major appliances but for fast sure fire results this is the way to go.
- Laundry detergent. Just whatever you normally use is fine.
- The first thing you want to do is simply to make balls with your yarn. Just roll your yarn into tight golf ball (or whatever size you want really) size balls. Feel free to use multiple colors in your balls. Anything in the middle of your ball will not show.
- Once you have your balls rolled you are going to cover them in roving. If you don't know what roving looks like, well, it's sort of like cotton candy.
- Your roving will most likely come rolled up in a lose ball. You want to unroll the roving and pull of pieces about 5-6 inches long. Spread the tuft out into a thin layer and place on the table. Pull off another tuft and lay on the first layer at a 90 degree angle. Repeat this process until you have 5 or six layers.
- Essentially you are creating little blankets that will cover your yarn balls so make them big enough to completely cover your balls. You can use one color of roving (which I did for my mobile) or for a tie dye look you can use multiple colors (like in the picture above).
- Once you've made your roving blanket simply wrap it around your ball of yarn. Overlap is just fine, bald patches are not!
- Hold the ball firmly in your hand and slip it inside one leg of a pair of panty hose, all the way down to the foot. Once it's neatly in there let go of the ball and knot a small piece of yarn around the panty hose to secure the hose in place. Think of it as a giant necklace you are going to be making and you are putting your beads in place.
- Repeat the yarn and roving process until you have all the balls you need (or your panty hose are full), tying a piece of yarn around the panty hose between each ball.
- Place your pantyhose necklace in the washing machine. Add a small amount of detergent and run the machine at its hottest setting. Don't run the machine through a short or delicate setting. The more agitation the better.
- Once the load is done, remove the balls from the washer. You will probably find that some of the roving fibres are sticking out of the pantyhose. That's normal. Snip off the yarn you used to tie the balls in the hose and gently peel the hose off the balls. Roll the balls gently in your hand to smooth the fibres.
- That's it!
There are tons of uses for felt balls. They worked great for our mobile, they make really cute Christmas decorations (you can sew or glue anything to them) and I hear they make great cat toys too!