A week and a half ago I attempted to make felted Easter eggs with Hannah, and failed. Or at least I wasn’t as successful as I hoped.
But, you see, there’s something you should know about me. I can be a tad, err, obsessive. When something almost works, but not quite, I will beat that dead horse into the ground. This is how I ended up sewing baby carrier after baby carrier until I had achieved Perfection. It’s how I program computers a lot of the time. I know I’m close, and I become relentless and single-minded until I get there.
I do, at least, usually have the good sense to not try the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. I change my approach constantly, tweaking and modifying. I ask people questions and then ignore their answers as I come up with yet another thing to try myself. And, oh yeah, I use a lot of ‘salty’ language. This is why Jon tries to avoid helping me tackle technical problems at all costs. I am maybe not the best or most patient client for him.
Anyways, after my last post about the felted eggs I received a fair bit of encouragement. And then my dear friend Kirsten of Yummy yarn let slip that she had a bag of colourful wool bits that might be perfect for my project. (Her roving is to die for!) And I decided to get back on that horse, because I am nothing if not dedicated to driving myself slowly insane.
This time I went and bought some plastic Easter eggs first. I tried using more or less the same method I used before – I wrapped bits of wool around the egg, dipped them in hot soapy water, and then massaged them with my fingertips. But it didn’t go that well. I kept getting holes that wouldn’t fill in, and the plastic halves of the egg kept popping apart. Very frustrating.
So I changed my approach (after using a few bad words and crying a little). As tightly as I could, I wrapped about 6 layers of wool around a plastic egg, and then stuck the whole thing inside an old nylon. I tied the end off so that it was held together pretty tightly, and then added another egg. You could probably fit six or more eggs inside a single leg, leaving yourself extra at the end to hold on to.
I dunked the eggs in wet soapy water and swished them around, holding onto the extra nylon at the end so that I didn’t have to stick my hands into all that heat. Then I removed the eggs, allowed the excess water to drip off, and slowly and gently squeezed each one. Gentleness is key, or else you end up popping the plastic egg apart and the finished product isn’t quite the right shape. I also found it pretty effective to pour boiling water from the kettle over the eggs.
After a couple of dozen repetitions, the wool felted nicely. Little fuzzy strands poked through the nylon, and the consistency changed. I could feel that they were holding their shape, the eggs were smaller and firmer. Then I threw the nylon and eggs into a hot dryer for about 20 minutes. After I cut the nylons off (carefully), I had some pretty decent felted eggs.
I will be honest and say that I’m not sure this is actually a great craft for kids. My 4-year-old could help me get the eggs ready to go into the nylon, but that’s about it. The hot water is just too hot, the felting requires too much care, and cutting the eggs out of the nylon without hurting them takes fine motor skills your average preschooler simply doesn’t have. But Hannah likes the finished product, so it all worked out.
Also, I got another tip from my yarny friend Kirsten. If you don’t have plastic eggs, or prefer not to use plastic, it’s pretty easy to make a wool core. Form a rough egg shape using some tightly packed wool, and wrap it with feltable yarn. You don’t need to wrap it completely, just enough to hold its shape. You will end up with a product made entirely of natural materials, and you can save yourself the time of starting from scratch.