Wet Felting: The Wool Ball

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Felted Wool BallsMaking a felted wool ball is incredibly easy.  This project requires no more than dishwashing liquidwarm waterwarm hands and carded wool.  Often called “wool roving,” carded wool can be purchased at local farms, craft stores or online through local or national distributors.  Wool is either carded by machine or by hand—the fibers are cleaned, separated and prepared for spinning or felting.  To find a local farm or folks who card wool, plug your zip code into LocalHarvest or search Etsy.  Remnant wool roving may be purchased online from Peace Fleece and  Halcyon Yarn—check out their “Bagettes” and “Babooshka Soup”—a random mix of remnant wool batts and pencil (thin) roving.

With carded wool in hand, pull off (don’t cut it with scissors) a small length of wool (maybe 8 inches) and divide it into four thin strips.  Wrap one strip as you would wind a ball of string.  Wrap the remaining strips around the first, winding the ball of wool until it is at least 1/3 larger than you’d like the finished product to be (don’t bite off more than you can chew—start fairly small).  Place a drop of dish detergent in your hands.  Dip your wool ball into a bowl of hot water until it is thoroughly wet.  Gently (very gently at first) roll the ball into shape with your hands.  When the fibers become entangled and the ball becomes firmer (you will notice this within a few minutes), rub and press harder, rewetting and adding a drop or two of soap as necessary.  When the ball is very firm, rinse it in cold water to remove the soap. Remove excess water by rolling the ball on a towel, and roll it tightly in your hands to make the final shape (but don’t squeeze).  If you are like me and your hands are perpetual icicles, you will find this project somewhat challenging—warm temperature is the key.

At this point, you must make a decision.  If you’d like to enjoy as is, that is fine.   Some folks may be content with that.  Allow to air dry for a few days until dry.  If you are unusually ambitious and would like to refine your abilities, feel free to polish your talents and build on this foundation.

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