May(de) DIY: Really Felt That

Not exactly an OOTD, but I wanted to show you guys something you can do with the leftover wool roving if you bought a bundle to do the heart applique remix. Wool beaded necklaces!

This year for Mother’s Day I was a bit spoilt: I got to see two of my three Mums (I have the full set: The Mother, the Mother-In-Law and the Step-Mother) and I’d been keen to try felting my own wool beads, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to whip up a couple of Mother’s Day necklaces for the visiting Mums.

There’s a reason this is one of the projects that consistently ends up in kid’s craft books, the step-by-step instructions are kind of embarrassingly easy.

There seems to be a lot of different techniques, especially if you want to get into fancy multicoloured and patterned beads, but for my first go I used the Martha Stewart Kid’s Craft Instructions as a starting point, and then kind of made it up until I had a process that worked for me:

To start with, you’ll need to spread a towel over whatever surface you’re working on. This is quite a soggy project. Then you’ll need some wool roving, a bowl of hot water with a few drops of liquid detergent in it, a ribbon and a sharp needle with a big eye (big enough to thread the ribbon through)

First step, pinch off equal amounts of wool roving so you’ve got a better chance of having similarly-sized beads. It’s hard to judge how much wool makes up a bead before you start rolling. Next take each bundle of roving and start wrapping bits of it around itself (like you’re rolling up a ball of wool) until it’s roughly spherical.

Next, dunk it in the hot soapy water (disregard how big the ball is in this picture – it was an experiment that didn’t end up working, and of course it was the only picture I took of this step!) The water should be as hot as you can stand, and you should keep topping it up so it stays hot. Felting with lukewarm water is just… well, a disaster. Also, try not to overdo it with the soap. Use too much and the bead will just become a sudsy mess.

Now start rolling the wet ball of roving gently between your palms. Don’t use too much pressure (at least to start). It actually has the opposite effect to what you’d think, and rather than making the bead smoother I always found it made the bead creased and misshapen.

Once you’ve made enough beads for the necklace give them a shock of boiling water, this apparently “sets” the felting process.

Then rise the beads quickly under cold water and pat them dry. They’ll still be a bit soft at this point, so it’s a good idea to do your threading now. Start by laying the beads down in the order that you’d like to have them (I didn’t quite manage identically-sized balls so I went with smallest on the outside moving in towards the big boombah beads on the middle)

Thread your sharp needle with the ribbon, then start stabbing through the beads and threading them onto the ribbon.

You’ll probably squish the balls a bit trying to get the needle through them, but just mould them back into shape after you’re done threading.

Finally, tie the ribbon up and leave to dry (it’ll take a while, at least a day).

The necklaces were a hit on the day!

18 thoughts on “May(de) DIY: Really Felt That

  1. I’m totally inspired and am going to give this a go. Just thought I’d share a great place for those of us in the Northern Suburbs. The Yarn Barn, 200 Reynard St West Coburg is a wholesaler and I just bought wool for felting at $6 per 100 grams.

  2. Doesnt look so easy so I think you did a great job…cant imagine kiddies doing it that easily!!! Would like to try it and do it in different colors for a rainbow necklace!

    1. I actually have a rainbow felted ball necklace which inspired this one – I keep meaning to wear it for May(de) but the seller has closed down 🙁

  3. Oooh I love those! Anything that requires hands in hot water is such a good idea, it’s chilly in Sydney at the moment! They look really great!

  4. I have made those felted balls but needle-felt them instead…the wet felt method looks a bit easier than what I have been doing!

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