Friday, 6 May 2016

Felted Wool Fur Balls (+ Necklace Instructions)



As promised when we shared our Mother's Day felted pet fur-filled hearts, here is a quick how-to on making needle felted fur balls, as well as a quick wool/fur ball necklace DIY along with other options for using your crazy-pet-person fur balls. :)  Have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!


Woolly fluffy fur works very much like roving; however, for short/wirey haired pets, even if you blend fur and wool roving, it stays visibly furry. You can reduce the fur factor by using small quantities of fur in the blend, felting a small ball of roving/fur then encompassing that ball in an outer layer of roving (as shown above) and/or using complimentary colours so that the fur is less evident (much like my entire wardrobe...); however, with wirey hair and tiny felt balls, you may still have a fuzz-factor. You can trim off any errant furry fuzzies after your craft is finished, if you wish, or do some wet work.

Felting with a fur blend fur is exactly the same as felting with wool roving, with the noted issues above. To make a needle felted ball, start with a small amount of roving (you can add later to build up if/as needed), roll it (fur to the middle), then fold the roll into a very rough ball. Needle the wool, taking care as noted above, turning periodically to ensure that you are pushing the needle in from all around the ball.   
Needle felting is best done on a soft surface, such as a foam pad; however, you can work with care on other surfaces if you prefer. ALWAYS keep track of your fingers (ouch) and enter/exit straight to avoid breaking your needle(s). Every needle action compresses and entwines the wool fibers, slowly turning the loose wool/fur into firm felt. Don't be intimidated - felting is as simple as repeating that action over and over. It just takes time, patience, and attention to detail. Peppy music is a fun addition and this is very cathartic crafting if you are feeling a bit "stabby". :)
Wrap around additional wool roving at anytime to enlarge, if needed.  Once you are happy with the size and firmness, you're done! You can wet the balls at this stage to work things even tighter, but I prefer to give that a miss especially when crafting with fur.  If wet working, work over a suitable surface with warm soapy water rolling by hand until satisfied, and allow to dry thoroughly before using.


If you are making a necklace, create a variety of colours and sizes to suit your tastes - your imagination is the limit! Using a large gauge needle with an eye big enough to thread your cord, string your balls onto cord, taking care to ensure you are passing the needle and cord through the center.  Once you have everything threaded, you can center your balls on the cord and tie a loop knot on each side of the ball arrangement to secure (optional) or keep things free moving.  Instructions are below on how we added a little extra style to our finished necklace. If wearing a fur necklace is a little too crazy for you (I must admit, it is a stretch too far even for me...even if felted balls are stylish and no one else knows about the fur!), you can easily use the balls for a keychain or other craft. There are tons of fun and craft ways that you can use your furballs, and once you are comfortable hand felting balls, you can move on to creative experiments with hand-forming other shapes...perhaps even a mini fur figure of your pet. :)


If using cord for a necklace, you can simply tie it to fit as a single strand, or get a little more fancy, if you wish.  I did three extra things with my necklace cord, as shown in the photos below:
  • Multi-strand braiding: Tie a length of cord around the ball-side the knot securing the felt balls or through the knot itself, giving you three strands of cord to braid. Loop knot all three cords around themselves, swallowing the initial knot, for looks and added security. Braid to the desired length and tie a loop knot to secure.. Repeat for the other side.
  • Beaded ends: Instead of simply knotting the end of the braid at the desired length, after your end loop knot, string a small bead onto one of the three strands and tie another loop knot using all three strands to secure. Trim excess cord if/as needed.
  • Adjustable length end knots: Tie one end of the cord around (not to) the opposite side of the cord. The cord should slide freely though the knot. Repeat with the other side, forming a closed necklace with a loop connection joining the ends. You can slip the cords back and forth as needed, making the loop larger (shorten the necklace) or smaller (lengthen the necklace), to adjust. 

 

I use a Clover needle felting pen tool and find it very easy to handle, but you can use a plain felting needle or any tool you wish.  My roving (love!) is from Ashford, locally produced in New Zealand.  You can find wool roving through specialists, large craft stores, or online. The cord is simple eco-friendly hemp in a neutral multi-tone, which helps add a little extra tonal variation to the finished piece and the beads are basic clear glass.

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