Great Balls of Felt
December 20, 2005
OK, so I’m in a hurry because I sort of need to pack to go to Omaha, um, today. Didja hear about our little transit strike? I think we might be walking to Newark to catch our flight.
I’ve been doing a modest amount of seasonally-induced crafting. So I’m going to show you a bunch of pictures now, and then I’ll be away from the blog for about a week.
As a warm-up for full-blown Felting Season, I did a little felt-ball making with the kids. Here’s the recipe for Felt Balls My Way:
2 small boys, more or less enthusiastic
2 bowls of water, 1 warm and soapy, 1 cold and clear
latex gloves (which you won’t use but the boys will enjoy filling up with water, blowing up like balloons, etc.)
a large surface that is well protected or that you don’t care about
Wool roving in a variety of colors (I used a big bag of Penny Candy from Decadent Fibers.)
Roll up boys’ sleeves. Give a pep talk about not slopping water all over the dining room (pep talk will be accompanied by boys slopping water all over the dining room). Decide you don’t care about the dining room. Take a deep breath, and just Let It Go. Pull off golf-ball sized chunks of roving in colors chosen by boys, roll into loose balls. Allow boys to dip the balls in warm water and roll in their hands (“like play-doh!” “like cookies!”) until very foamy with soap, then dip in cool water. Keep rolling and dipping in warm and then cold water until the balls begin to shrink and harden slightly. When balls are ‘done’ as determined by boys, make more balls. When sister comes home, set her to work. Continue to make felt balls yourself as boys tire and sister does homework. Try not to think about the dining room table.
Place finished balls on radiator to dry. (This is my innovation. Yes I’m proud.)
Left to right, we have Joseph’s, Kay’s and Carrie’s. (Joseph doesn’t like an overfelted ball; he makes his al dente. )
Expect to find felted balls in various stages of feltedness in and around the dining room, for several days.
What I learned: The soapy water doesn’t have to be hot. The balls will be smoother on the outside, and less prone to cracks and crevices, if you work them slowly and softly at the beginning. When you feel them starting to shrink, that’s when you can apply more pressure to shape them.
What To Do With Felt Balls
Felt balls are a joy in themselves. They toil not. They need no purpose. But they can be useful:
…filling up a wedding present flower vase that always tips over when filled with flowers and water.
…making ornaments to accompany Teacher Chocolate. These ornaments involved buttons, craft glue, and tiny beads and more dining room trauma. Between you and me, we’re not doing the craft glue. Ever again.
Other Applications for Handmade Felt
When I visited Cristina a couple of weeks ago, we made some felt stuff. Not a lot, due to time constraints and the fact that I wouldn’t stop talking for 5 minutes.
I made Felt Ring Stitch Markers. I wound roving around the handle of a wooden spoon and felted this tube using my hands and one of those sushi-rolling mats. Later, when the tube was dry, Cristina snipped little calamari rings. Which I think make excellent stitch markers because they won’t get stuck on knitting, nor will they go zinging across the floor.
Cristina made a small flat piece of felt.
Which she later turned into this and gave to me. Note the blue moon. I know. What can I say. (Cherish is a word I use to describe/all the feelings that I have hooting here for you inside.)
Open the Pod Bay Doors Hal
This just in: I’ve made a robot.
MY NAME IS N-D-GO BOT, FROM THE PLANET E-LANN.
MY MISSION IS TO GET THOSE WHO HAVE NO DESIRE TO MAKE KNITTED TOYS, TO MAKE THEM ANYWAY.
I succombed to the lure of the Jess Hutchison toys. Can you blame me? Look at him! World’s cutest handknit mechanical device!
As toys go, the bot is not too fiddly–his lines are all straight and his body, legs and head are made in 2 pieces, front and back. The best moment is when you start stuffing the legs and they go all roly-poly on you. (Shut up! You have to either try it or take my word for it.) My next toy will be: Squarey. I’ve got a serious crush on Squarey.
Happy whatever you’re celebrating down there with the bourbon milkshakes and the ultra-festive heirloom sweaters. We’re off for a good old-fashioned Chrismukkah in Omaha.