I’d never used wool roving before. Really, I’d never heard of it! But, I love trying out new products, so I did a little research. Wool Roving is real wool, that has been combed and dyed. In some cases, twisted slightly. But it isn’t yarn. It could be, one day… it is somewhere between still-on-the-sheep and yarn.
Wool is a natural fiber that can be felted. I’d heard of needle felting, but there are some special tools that come in handy for needle felting, and I wasn’t quite ready to go deep enough into felting to buy special tools.
But, I wanted to try felting. In my research I discovered that if you don’t have any special tools, the easiest way to do this is to felt the roving into wool balls. Once the balls are felted, all you have to do is poke a hole through the balls and they become wool beads – great for any place you’d use a bead! And there are lots of places that I can put a bead to good use.
The steps are simple:
1. Fluff up the roving. The goal here is to separate the fibers into little individual fibers, which will help them felt together. Plus, it looks kind-of nice sitting there, all fluffy and cloud-like.
2. Gently, gently, gently… roll the dry roving into a ball. No need to add tons of pressure. The goal isn’t to smush the roving into submission… just to get the fibers going in the right direction, and get the ball-shape started.
3. Dip the roving into hot, soapy water. I used water as hot as I could stand. About 3 cups water and about 1/2 teaspoon of regular dish soap in a large bowl. I also kept a kettle close by to be able to add more hot water to the bowl as it cooled.
4. Roll, roll, roll! Again, the goal isn’t to smush the ball. Just add a little bit of pressure. Really, the goal is friction more than pressure, to felt the fibers together. The ball will cool down, so keep dipping it back into the hot water to keep it hot as you keep rolling. Keep rolling until the ball is tightly felted. For this ball, I rolled for about 5 minutes. As much as I love finishing a project quickly, this called for patience to make sure that I got it right. I just kept rolling and rolling between my hands.
5. When the ball is completely felted, dip in cold water to stop the felting process. Poke a large needle through the middle to make a hole to string the bead onto later. Originally, I tried a skewer, but the wooden splinters got caught in the fibers, and it was too tough. A doll needle or upholstery needle worked much better. Then, the bead needs to dry… which I let it do overnight.
One more tip: if you’re the kind of person who avoids wool sweaters because they are “itchy”, you may have a wool sensitivity or wool allergy. Making constant contact with wool fibers as you’re felting very uncomfortable! If you’re stubborn, and want to try this technique anyway, I’d recommend getting rubber gloves. If you can find rubber dish washing gloves that have a texture to them, that can actually help the felting process because it will help add more friction to the fibers.
I can’t wait to show you the project I came up with!