Sunday, February 24, 2008

Making Felted Wool Beads

A few people have asked me about how to make felted beads. I use wool roving for mine - and I have to admit to a a passion for Merino. I suppose that it is possible to use old felted sweaters to make these - but I think it would be far more laborious and, possibly, not as effective. Some of you know that one of my least favorite introductions to a technique is "fast, fun & fabulous" but, dare I say it, these beads truly are just that.

You simply need some luscious wool roving. I have several favorite places to get these supplies -outback fibers, try or designs & pacific wool & fiber. Then you need very hot water (from the tap), a bowl of ice water, rubber gloves (I always loose these pretty quickly though) and some good fatty soap. I use Eucalan Wool wash (I love the scent) or an olive oil soap- but actually even dish soap does just about as well I think.

Gently take some fibers of wool - I like to mix colors . You really don't need much fiber depending on the size of the bead you want to make. This is the amount I general use for a smallish bead.
Gently wet the fiber with hot water.
Add a bit of soap. You DO NOT need much soap. Too much will make the wool too slippery to work with. If this happens - just rinse some of the soap ff with hot water.
By now I have lost the rubber gloves. I just can't get good traction on the fiber with gloves's never works for me! Work the wool into a ball by rubbing with circular motions in the palms of your hands . When it has begun to form a ball - throw it in the ice water for a second or two - then back to the hot water with a tad of soap. Just keep working the fiber, and alternating between the hot & ice waters until you have formed a nice tight felted bead. If it seems that the fibers are not felting - just keep on working it - they will. Each bead will take from 3-5 minutes to get a nice rounded shape. Be patient.

Before you know it you will have a supply of felted wool beads of varying sizes... think of the possibilities! I like to make small beads and dangle them from the bottom edge of small quilts. What will you do with yours??


Stephanie Pettengell said...

I think you may have just started me off on something else !!
Love the beads and the tutorial.

Waltraud said...

Hi Marie,
thanks for this tutorial!

Laura said...

You are a mind reader! I ran to Jo Anne Fabrics this weekend to get supplies to make the bon bon journal and cupcake pincusions from the book that you recommended, but of course they don't sell wool balls. Just the kiddie craft kind, whatever they're made of. Thanks for the tutorial! I'll post pics when I try it. (PS - love your color combos, as always!)

Karoda said...

After checking out the sources for roving you listed I ordered some silk roving (thrilled to find it state last order came from Treenways and the s&h ate me up!) on Monday from Outback Fibers and it arrived yesterday...I'm very pleased with the timeliness and the roving! Thanks!

Casino Bonus