Today’s felting tutorial comes courtesy of Melanie McMinn, an American expat who lives in Northland, New Zealand and blogs at the Frugal Kiwi. She moved to the Southern Hemisphere eight years and she’s had a non-stop migraine/chronic headache since 2009. Since then a natural tendency to frugality has blossomed into a full-fledged necessity.
These days Melanie keeps busy the best she can with felting, backyard bees, chickens, a veggie garden, a glass house, an internationally infamous Devon Rex cat named Sir Ed and the DIY restoration of the family bungalow built by Frugal Man’s granddad in the 1930s.
The time for fireworks for the USA may be waning, but here in New Zealand our big fireworks day of the year, Guy Fawkes day is still ahead. No matter what hemisphere you live in, you can add some of the sparkle of fireworks to your day by felting up these fun and easy-to-make Fireworks Ponytail Holders. Your entrepreneurial teens could even felt some up in local team colours and sell them as a fund raiser or for pocket money. Once you get the hang of it and a system going, you can get five done in about the same time as one.
The materials are simple: a couple of ounces of dyed wool roving in colours of your choice available in the US from your local Jo-ann or Michael’s or, for better prices and more variety, from a number of online sellers on Etsy, an elastic pony tail holder, liquid soap, water and an optional sushi mat.
First, take your first colour of wool roving and hold the far end firmly. Grasp further in about six inches and gently pull. You are going to find out how long the staple of the wool is. That is how long each natural section of wool is on the long strand of roving. The wool should come apart natural at a given point. Pull that section apart from the rest of the roving. You’ll want to extend that section so very gently ease the wool so it is about 7 or so inches long.
Now you have a 7 inch section of wool take an end and roll it between your palms to make it hold together better. After each end has been rolled, roll the middle. This is called dry felting.
Once you’ve dry felted your wool, it is time to put it on to the ponytail holder. Grab it in the middle and place it in the middle ponytail holder.
Then carefully pull the two ends through the middle of the roving forming a simple knot.
Continue these steps until you’ve filled your ponytail holder. An average size ponytail holder needs at least NINE sections of wool roving. You may think it looks full when you get to six like this.
Trust me, you’ll need nine.
Stretch the elastic of the ponytail holder out and fit them in. As the wool felts, it shrinks and six sections of roving will NOT fill your ponytail holder when you are done felting.
When you’ve gotten your ponytail holder stretched and full of knotted roving sections, squirt some liquid soap on your hands and get them SLIGHTLY damp. Grab the tip of a roving section and roll it back and forth like you did when you were dry felting.
Continue to roll the wool with you slightly damp soapy hands working your way from the tip of the roving downwards, adding more soap and water as needed.
Continue with the rest of the arms ignoring the knots until they all look like this.
Now you’ll felt the knots and solidify the felting of the arms. Fold your ponytail holder in half and dip the knots in warm water. If you have a sushi mat, place the ponytail holder on it and the roll it up.
Use another ponytail holder or rubber band to keep the mat rolled up and then roll the mat on a counter top 10-20 times. If you have no sushi mat, vigorously massage the ponytail holder paying special attention to the area around the knots.
Once you’ve sushi rolled or massaged the ponytail holder, rinse thoroughly with water as hot as you can stand. Remove from the water flow. Change water to as cold as it will go, then rinse the ponytail holder in cold water. Squeeze dry. Shock your felt by hitting it repeatedly against the side of your counter, building or clean concrete-my favorite part! Allow to dry and enjoy. For extra fun, wear more than one at a time, like the picture at the top of the post.
Melanie McMinn, Writer and Artist
Finalist 2011 Bloggies Best Australian/NZ Blog
Blog: Frugal Kiwi Portfolio: Felted Kiwi