I am very happy to finish up this wonderful guest blogger series with a fabulous visit from Marcie who has a newish blog mossymossy which I urge you all to go visit!
I have lived as an organic lettuce farmer, a tropical rainforest field technician, an Alaskan tent-dwelling field biologist, and a Manhattan biology teacher. I now have two young girls. After a few years of babywearing, Lego-playing, Play-doh-making, puppet-showing, costume-making, fort-making, worm-digging, goop-making, tadpole rearing, mudpie-making, tomato-growing, and forgetting myself and forgetting just about everything I knew while kid-less, I developed Mossy.
Posts on my blog Mossy include thoughts about child-rearing and family life, as well as craft and gardening tutorials such as how to felt wool, plan a simple family vegetable garden, turn an old sweater into mittens, and make handmade paper. As well, there is a focus on simple natural science projects such as understanding the science behind making oobleck or baking bread.
This is a fantastic project for both kids and grownups since there is really no way to mess up the outcome. In the end, you will have at least one small new friend that you will just love.
For this project, you will need the following:
- A bowl of hot water and a bowl of cold water
- Natural liquid dish soap
- Carded wool
- Scraps of wool felt
- Needle and thread
- A crafty little design team with lots of small fingers
Often called “wool roving,” carded wool can be purchased at local farms, craft stores or online through local or national distributors. To find a local farm or folks who card wool, check the LocalHarvest website, or search Etsy. Remnant wool roving may be purchased online through Halcyon Yarn—check out their “Babooshka Soup”—a random mix of remnant wool batts and pencil roving (also their Peace Fleece which also offers a “Rainbow Felting Pack” that is perfect for this project).
1: With carded wool in hand, pull off (don’t cut with scissors) a small length of wool and divide it into many thin longish strips—multiple thin layers will produce the sturdiest felted material.
Wrap one strip as you would wind a ball of string—in thin layers around your index finger, making sure you cover the fingertip. Wrap the remaining wool strips around the first, adding layers, until you can no longer feel your knuckle. The wool should be snug, but not too tight (about 0.3 cm or 1/8 in thick when pressed).
2. Dip your wooly finger into the bowl of hot, slightly soapy water until it is thoroughly soaked. Remove your wooly finger from the water and gently press and roll the wool with the fingertips of your other hand, squeezing gently.
Continue to re-wet and agitate the fibers, squeezing and lathering the wool until you feel the fibers become entangled and you feel the fabric becoming firmer (you will notice this within a few minutes). Pay attention to the fingertip—it needs attention too. When is it done? When the wool is completely felted, it should form a semi- snug casing around your finger.
This entire process should take about 10 to 15 minutes. When the fabric is very firm, submerge your wooly finger into the bowl of cold (soapless) water to set the fibers and rinse. Remove excess water by gently squeezing your wooly finger. Carefully remove your finger from the wool.
3. After air-drying the wool overnight (radiators are advantageous), you and your starry-eyed design team must envision the outcome— cow, wolf, librarian, martian—the brainstorming starts now. The puppets can be embellished with needle felting (e.g. bumblebee stripes, eyes, nostrils), cut wool sweaters (e.g. lion mane, dragon wings) and embroidery thread.
Note: Don’t attempt perfection. Quirky outcomes should be preferred over conventional.
That said, remind yourself that, in nature, some critters are smaller, some are fatter, some lean to the left, some to the right, and some even have lost fur or scales. Of course, this uniqueness should be celebrated.
These little friends, as seductive as they are, often are central to my operation— with their cheerful banter, they lure my kids into unappealing household tasks such as eating veggies, washing dishes or brushing their teeth. These little friends are known to appreciate clean plates and good attitudes. As well, they provide teeny shoulders to cry on after challenging days.