To make the ornaments shown in the 2008 issue of Quilting Arts Gifts, you need to make felted wool balls.
Warning: once you start making these, it may be really hard to stop.
To make the wool balls you will need:
wool yarn- this is a great way to use up leftover yarn
colored wool roving- my favorite place to order roving is from Outback Fibers, the colors are gorgeous and it’s very reasonable.
Begin by rolling golf ball size yarn balls as a base for the felted ball. Wind yarn into oblong shapes to make a berry shaped ornament. I usually use wool yarn because I know it will felt better, but in a pinch I have used other yarn fibers too.
Unwind a length of roving, while holding it in one hand, grasp the end portion with the other hand and gently pull off “tufts” roughly 5-6 inches in length. Spread the fibers into a thin flat layer with all the strands going in one direction. Pull off another tuft of roving and layer it on top of the first at a 90 degree angle. Repeat this process several more times, criss-crossing 4-6 thin layers.
When lifting the blanket of roving there should not be thin spots or holes. Changing the colors of yarn in the layers will create a heathered multicolored wool ball.
Wrap the roving blanket you have created around a yarn ball, making sure there is full coverage of fluffy roving with no bare or thin spots.
Close the roving covered yarn ball in your hand and bring it to the foot of a knee hi panty hose. (buy cheap ones at the dollar store, or use those ancient ones in the back of your sock drawer) Gently remove your hand from around the ball and tie a knot with a small piece of yarn around the hose to secure the ball in place.
When all the balls have been wrapped in the hose, place them in the washing machine, set the water to lowest level and hottest setting. Add a small amount of detergent, about a tablespoon, the exact measurement is not crucial but soap is important in the felting process. I usually run it on a long cycle, the more agitation the better the felting.
When you take the chain of balls out of the machine, you will see little fibers have come though the mesh of the hose. Snip the tied yarn between the balls, gently peel away the hose removing the ball and roll the ball in your hands to smooth the fibers.
Let the balls dry before stitching, they’ll dry in a couple hours in the open air or if you’re impatient toss them in the dryer and let them bounce around for about 15 minutes.
These make great cat toys, but dogs will want to shred them to smithereens. My chihuahua thinks there is nothing more fun than stealing felted balls when I am not looking and peel all the fuzz off.
These are some of the ornaments I made stitching wool felt onto the balls with embroidery floss.
Theses ornaments make a great portable project. Everything you need fits in a baggie; a couple felted balls, several small pieces of wool felt, embroidery floss, scissors, crewel needles and a couple pins to hold things in place when you begin to stitch.
They look pretty stitched simply with beads too.
They make great hostess gifts for holiday parties and are perfect for ornament exchanges.
Check out some of the other 12/12/12 handmade art ideas on the Sketchbook Challenge blog.