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Sue Tyler's Craft - Felt making - 3 July

Fun with Felting - Making Felted Beads and a Necklace

Today we are going to make felt beads to put together for a necklace.

Here's a bit of background to felting and how it works because the whole process is amazing and this is NZ so it's nice to know a bit more about the things that come from our abundant sheep!
Roving is wool from a sheep that's been combed, drawn into a clump, and then twisted slightly to hold the wool fibres together.

Wool felts because wool fibres have an outer layer of scales; these give the strands a jagged edge.

During the felting process the scales are shocked together causing the wool fibres to tangle and form felt.
Today we are going to make felt beads to put together for a necklace.

Felted Beads
What you need:
- A small round container (I used the plastic eggs toys come in from $2 machines outside most dairies)
- Duct Tape
- Wool roving (you'll find this in the felting section at Spotlight)
- A jug or bowl
- A tray
- A sponge
- Hot water
- Dishwashing liquid
Get Making!

Before you start:
Be aware that this is a wet project and a fair amount of splashing is involved.
If need be put down some plastic and if you are crafting with kids make sure they are in clothes you don't mind getting wet.
Step 1
- Cover the holes at the end of your plastic egg with duct tape (this reduces splashing by about 60%)
- Gently pull out long strands of wool from your clump of roving
- Wrap them together to form a ball shape
- Place the ball of wool inside one half of your egg
Step 2
- Into your jug mix 3 tablespoons of dish-wash liquid with 3 cups of warm water
- Place the jug in the middle of the tray, this way hopefully most splashes will be picked up in the tray
- Also have that sponge handy to soak up any extra splashes
Step 3
- Dunk the filled egg half in the warm soapy water and let it fill up to the brim
- Click the top half over the egg
- Shake vigorously for about a minute
- Open your egg (over the jug so water goes back into it) and gently take out what is now a semi felted ball of  wool
- Start gently rolling it around your hands and keep dunking it in water every so often to speed up the felting process
- As the fibres begin to bond,  you can start focusing on forming a good round bead by pressing harder
- You'll know you are at the end of the process when the bead  is quite hard, has stopped shrinking in size and you have no wool falling off
- During this process when the water gets cold, just heat it up in the microwave as warm water is essential for felting.
Step 4
- Rinse your felted bead in ice cold water and then hot water. This shocks the fibres some more and gets rid of the detergent.
- Then leave your ball dry for a couple of nights somewhere warm and dry like an airing cupboard.
School Holiday extra:

This specific project of making a felt is a great project to do with kids.
Everyone will get reasonably wet, but that's half the fun!
During the making process kids see how the wool changes as it felts.
The other great thing about this is that everyone in the house will now know what happens if you put a woollen jersey in the wash!
To make it a bit easier from kids you could wrap wool around an existing ball like a ping pong ball or a styrofoam ballor even a little round cage with a bell inside found at any pet store.

Felt Bead Necklace

What you need:

15 felt balls (you can go with more or less, but I prefer uneven numbers because it's a better balance)
Beading wire or thread
Small beads (these will go in between your felted beads)
Crimping beads
Crimp covers (don't worry if you don't have these)
Knitting needle
Sewing needle
Crimping pliers (or small flat pliers)
Wire cutters or scissors

Step One
- Lay out your beads in the order you want them on the necklace
- In that order, thread them onto a knitting needle

Step Two
- Cut a long line of wire (double your necklace length is good) and thread it through your sewing needle
- Thread on a plain non felted bead
- Take a felt bead off your knitting needle and thread it onto the wire
- Continue alternating,  finishing with a non felted bead

Step 3
- Decide how long you want you necklace then cut your beading wire a good 10cm longer than that at each end

Step 4
- Take your crimp bead, and slip 10cm down the wire
- Take your clasp and and slip it down the wire near the crimp (but not over the crimp)
- Take the end of the wire and thread it back through the crimp bead, creating a loop which your clasp sits inside
- Close your crimp bead, either using crimping pliers or normal flat nose pliers then if you have them close your crimp cover over the crimp
- Thread the excess wire through a bead or two and then trim it off.
- Do the same for the other end of wire (but without a clasp) and now you have a lovely necklace that's also warm, which is rather grand for winter!