My latest Martha had a wonderful idea that I decided to try out this past weekend and with 4 days off from work I had plenty of time to catch up on reading and my crafts. I ran to the local craft store and picked up some felting needles, roving wool, and a piece of foam to work on. Martha sometimes makes things look easier than they are, but this felting project was so easy, I am thinking about how I could use it with my students!
I took an old Ann Taylor sweater I had picked up at Goodwill a while back, and just started adding blue and white polka dots randomly over the sweater. I started by filling in the few small holes and then filled in with dots where it seemed necessary for aesthetic purposes. I had originally bought this sweater to use in a set of indoor bocce ball sets I was working on as Christmas gifts last year. This was also an easy and fun project to do.
If you are interested in felting it is really very easy and basic. To use old sweaters, I simply wash them in the washing machine with hot water and soap. I set the rinse cycle to cold so that the shock of the temperature change will shrink the fibers more quickly. Be sure to wash like colors with like, as you will lose some of the dye. Then, I dry the sweaters on hot until they are dry to the touch. Now the sweaters are ready to be cut up. I have turned them into table center pieces, pouches for glasses, pillow cases, and beautiful sculptural spheres. The nice part about felting old sweaters is that you are reusing, don’t have to knit, and don’t even have to sew the edges to prevent fraying.
The bocce set was a little more complicated. I knotted strips of felted sweater together until it was about the size that I wanted the final product to be. Then, I took lengths of loose wool (roving) and tied it around the knotted balls. I then took old athletic socks (the short ones) and put the wool balls inside the socks, twist tied them shut, and washed them as I mentioned above. I dried the balls, socks and all until they were dry. The roving shrinks and the sock keeps it all perfectly spherical. If you use two different colors of wool – the sweater one color and the roving another – you can achieve really beautiful marbled effects from the different wools.