Felted Woolies are things made from reclaimed, recycled wool. I find wool at thrift stores and garage sales. I clean it, felt it or unravel it, and make new things. I seem to have a bit of trouble focusing on just one project--so I make a lot of different things, practical and not so practical.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My First Tutorial--Child Friendly Craft using Recycled Materials--Small Felt Tree

Not suitable for children that put small things in their mouths.  The felt could be a choking hazard. 
Finished Tree
What you will need

Gather what you will need. (This is the prep work that should be done by an adult before you put the tree together with a child.)

recycled wool felt (see below),
a page from a magazine
small button 1/2 to 3/4” across
thin wire (thin enough to go through holes on button)
cardboard circle about 2 inches across

Options-- Since part of this craft is about recycling--here are some options to use what you already have.

You can use an old wooden spool, if you have it, instead of the cardboard circle. If you are using a spool, you can reuse a pipe cleaner and bead instead of the magazine page, wire and button.  

You may be able to make the wire you need from old twisty ties. An older child can do this, or you can if you have the patience and dedication!  I can't quite figure out how to make that work....

16 recycled wool felt circles in 8 sizes with small holes or slits in the middle. Check on the internet for instructions about how to felt an old sweater from a garage sale, a thrift store, or your closet. (You might want to check with your loved one before raiding his or her closet.) For this project you will want thick wool, so start with a heavy sweater or a boiled wool jacket. You can use all one color from one sweater, or different colors from a patterned sweater or from two or more sweaters. Cut 16 circles in 8 different sizes, each just 1/4 inch larger than the last. Mine are 0.75”, 1’, 1.25”, 1.5”, 1.75”, 2”, 2.25”, and 2.5”. I have a Sizzix die cut machine that cuts wool felt. I used the Circles #2 die to cut 1”, 1.5”, 2”, and 2.5” circles and trimmed half of them an 1/8 inch all around to get the 8 different sizes. You can make paper templates with a compass, or by drawing around bottle caps, jar lids, or whatever. They don’t need to be perfect!!! I think part of the charm of this craft is its slightly wonky look. Embrace the wonkiness. Resist all worries about perfection. Next punch a hole in or near the middle of each circle. You can use a wood awl from the tool box, a leather punch if you have one, or just a sharp scissors. The opening doesn’t have to be round, a .25 inch slit will be fine.

1 magazine roll, about 5 inches long with a button wired to the end. If you are using a pipe cleaner and bead instead of the magazine page, wire and button, skip this part.   I use half a page of magazine paper—a piece just about 5 by 7 inches. Roll it as tightly as you can. The finished roll should be about a 1/4 inch in diameter. Again, you don’t need to be exact. I find it helps to fold the narrowest strip possible, an 1/8 inch or smaller, at the start of the roll. That folded bit helps get the roll started. Tape both ends of the roll to hold it together.

Cut a piece of wire about 14 inches long. Bend it in the middle, and thread the ends of the wire into two holes of the button so the button is in the middle of the wire. Thread the wire down through the middle of your magazine tube—you might need to push gently to get the wire through the tube, especially if you were successful at making a very small tube. Bend the ends over the end of the tube opposite the button.  Drumroll.....  you are ready to let the child start making the tree!

  *******Here are the steps you will do with the child********


  1. Give child the 16 felt circles, in 8 different sizes. Sort the circles from largest to smallest, in a simple pattern alternating colors if you are using different colors.  The idea is to have children that can, sort by size, and those who can continue a simple pattern, alternate the colors.  Younger children will need help sorting and making the pattern; older children will do one or both steps by themselves.  
Sample circles sorted by size and color

  1. Now, take the magazine roll with the button attached and thread the circles in order, smallest first, onto the roll.  There is a small hole in the center of each felt circle to make this easier for young fingers.  You thread the circle onto the open end of the rod, and push it up to sit next to the button.    (That is probably obvious, but I’m trying very hard to be clear!)
put smallest felt circles on first
Push up snug to button
Keep adding larger and larger felt circles keeping in the color pattern
Put all 16 felt circles on and push them toward the button. 

  1. Probably a step for the adult.  Push all the felt toward the button so you have room to work.  Fold the wires down away from the magazine roll.  Insert the cardboard disk, plain side away from the felt.  Bend the wire back so it holds the disk snug,  Keep the wire flat and bend it back over the cardboard so the tree will stand.   Separate the layers of felt so they are even, and make the tree shape.  If the magazine rod is too long, and the felt layers have big gaps, you can take the carboard disk off, and cut the magazine rod, but take care to NOT cut the wire.  Think electrical wire trimmers…   I’ve tried to be sure the magazine rod is the right length, so you shouldn’t need to do this….
Fold wires down
Insert cardboard disk
Fold wires around cardboard so they lie as flat as possible
Space the felt out to cover the whole magazine roll


But wait, what is that spool doing in the background???
 Here is where the options factor in...

  1. Here is an alternate way to do step three, but you will need a wooden spool, preferably an old one in keeping with the recycled nature of this craft…  (Check with Grandma, she might have some.)   Instead of using the cardboard disk, just insert the end of the magazine tube into the top of a spool.  You don’t have to fool with the wires, you can just push it in.  Voila!  It is done.  (I told you this way was easier!)

push the magazine roll into the spool

A tree with a trunk!  
Last option.  If you have pipe cleaner and a bead, use that in step 2 instead of the whole magazine roll and button thingy...   This option will only work if you use a spool, because I can't figure out how to connect the pipe cleaner to the cardboard....  

Can't see the bead very well...  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recycled wool snowmen, trees, and hats

Here is what I've been working on:
1.  Simple trees, where I buy as little as possible.

  These are made with recycled wool, a vintage button, a tiny roll of recycled magazine page (to give the middle stability) recycled cardboard, or a vintage wooden spool, and new wire.   Catch that? The only new thing is the wire. Oh, wait, I use two tiny pieces of tape to hold the magazine page roll together.   Gotta figure out something to use instead of the wire.   Twisty ties aren't long enough.  I need 10-12 inch pieces...  The buttons on these are cut in such a way that when you look directly at it, you see a star.  Perfect for the top of a tree.    I find rolled up magazine pages work great when you need a thin sturdy thing, like a dowel, but you don't want to go buy a dowel.  (Remember, I used rolled up magazine pages in the sheep and reindeer legs to give them enough stability...)

2.  Cone trees, wrapped in recycled wool, with vintage buttons. 
These are made with cereal boxes as the cone.  If I feel like a "purist," I stretch long strips of wool around and around sewing as I go, or if I'm in a hurry or feel lazy I spray the cardboard cone with adhesive and glue it.  I ALWAYS sew all the buttons on.  I can't bear to glue vintage buttons.  I want to be able to cut them off and do something else with them. 

Here I used light weight cardboard, like a cereal box or a cookie box, instead of styrofoam as the base.  Styrofoam is expensive, hard to recycle, and a petroleum product.  We need to use something in our crafts that isn't that nasty.  Cardboard is great and does the job.  Would anyone be interested if I came up with patterns for common sizes?  I just wing it when I make these trees, but if you were following a pattern for a specific craft that called for a specific size styrofoam cone, you might be tempted to buy the styrofoam rather than fool around trying to make the right size cardboard cone.  If you had a pattern so you would know your cone would be the right size... 

3. I made a family of snow people:

These are for a niece.  She is trading me two GREAT hair cuts for snowmen to represent her family.  I may have to change the hat on the youngest...  It is pretty goofy.  The Dad is wearing an Ohio State "O" on his hat, but you can't see it in the photo.  The color scheme says Christmas, as well as Go Bucks.

4.  And finally, two little ones wearing new hats.  These are friends of mine that came to visit as I was trying to get my stuff organized.  You can't come visit me without leaving with some kind of wool (or if you are a baby, you get cotton or cashmere...)

So, I've been busy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thou shat not covet

But I do: 

It is a Sizzix Big Shot Pro--They claim it works with every Ellison die ever made, as well as all the Sizzix dies.  They are coming out with more quilting dies.   Ellison makes a Tangrams die.  I made some wool felt tangrams that I really like, but with a die cutter, you could make them PERFECT, and fast. 

I want it.  I don't need it.  I just want it. I really don't need the $399 price tag!!!!

Our public library, main branch downtown, has a professional die cut machine that anyone can use--and a lot of dies.  I've not been to try it, or to see if they have the tangram die.  Before I get this, I need to make the 20 mile trek to the library.  I can buy a lot of 20 mile trips to the library for the 399 this thing costs.

So, I'll continue to covet, and to use my $49 Sizzix Big Shot and my scissors and my rolling cutter thing. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Four more rounds

After a six month hiatus, I finally made progress on the rug. I finished four new rounds yesterday that I'd started long ago. I figure I want about 12 more rounds. That is way more than four more days of work, but I think I have the wool. I just have to tear the strips sew the strips braid the strips and lace the braids. Hope to finish this winter.

Antique Skein Winder

I'm not sure what this is called, but it winds yarn from ball to skein. (Or vice versa.). It belongs to a friend and works much faster than my niddy noddy.