Since ancient times, fiber arts have been practiced by those who worked close to the land. Today, these crafts are accessible to anyone with a creative drive. While working with wool isn't as widely practiced as knitting or crochet, it is becoming more visible as an interesting fiber art. Making a wool felted pincushion is an easy way to try wool crafts. It is also an ideal wool craft for children.
Make the Wool Ball
Split the wool roving into several long strips. Roll the first strip into a ball that is fairly tight. Secure the ends of the wool roving by pushing it into the body of the ball with the tip of a felting needle. The felting needle will tangle the loose ends of the roving with the underlying fibers and hold everything together.
Wrap the second strip of wool roving around the center of the wool ball, winding the roving from the opposite direction to hold and secure the first ball of wool roving firmly in place. Secure the ends by pushing the felting needle into the loose ends of the roving several times.
Continue to wrap the growing wool ball with strips of unbleached roving until the ball is about a third larger than the desired finished diameter of the wool felted pincushion. Remember that the felting process will shrink the pincushion.
Peel off thin strips of the colored wool roving from the roving ball or batt and apply them to the wool ball. Use several colors, if desired, for an artistic effect. Wrap each strip tightly around the ball and secure the colored roving using the felting needle, following the same procedures that you used to secure the unbleached wool roving when you were building up the ball.
Felting the Wool Ball
Place the wool ball into an old nylon stocking and push it all the way down to the foot of the nylon. Twist the nylon just above the wool ball and secure the resulting pocket with a rubber band or twist-tie.
Place a few squirts of dish detergent in the drum of your washing machine. Adjust the water level to the lowest possible setting.
Fill the washing machine with the hottest water possible and place the wool ball in the nylon stocking in the drum of the washing machine.
Allow the washing machine to agitate as long as necessary to felt the ball properly. At the minimum, you should agitate the wool felted pincushion for at least five minutes. Check the progress of the felting in five-minute increments and stop the agitation when the pin cushion has reached the size and density that you desire. The wool ball will felt more the longer it agitates in the hot, soapy water.
Drain the hot, soapy water from the drum of the washing machine. Refill the washing machine with cold water and run a rinse cycle to remove the dish soap residue from the pincushion. Run a spin cycle to remove as much of the water as possible.
Remove the nylon stocking from around the felted wool pincushion. Cut the nylon at either end and carefully peel it away from the felted wool ball. The nylon will tighten around the wool bag during the felting process.
Shape the wool felted pincushion by rolling it with your hands while it is still damp. You can create a circle, oval, egg shape, or flatten one or both ends of the pincushion.
Allow the pincushion to dry completely before use.
You can felt several wool pincushions in one nylon stocking by creating separate pockets with rubber bands or twist-ties between each section. If you do not have colored roving on hand, you can dye unbleached roving with fiber dye or unsugared drink mix powder, or you can make an unbleached wool felted pincushion.
Exercise caution when working with the felting needle to avoid poking your fingers and hands with the sharp tip.