History, Astronomy, and Needle Felting!

The seven classical planets were the non-fixed objects that one could see in the sky.  The word planet is originally a Greek word meaning “wanderer”; therefore, a few bodies we would not consider planets today are among the list of this ancient classification of planets.  Why?  Because they wandered, even the sun and moon were part of the classical planets being that they changed positions among the otherwise fixed constellations in the sky!

The seven classical planets include:  the Sun, Moon, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus.  Today I am sharing the first in my “classical planets” collection:  a felted SUN!  Look how adorable it is all surrounded by the deep darkness of space and little twinkling stars.   I know, I know it’s missing that special glow; but just let your imagination take over from here.   If my husband had helped create this photo, no doubt the stars would have mimicked actual constellations.  I, however, am not as talented in the science of astronomy and just drew little dots to give the illusion of stars.
Needle Felt Sun
I love incorporating education into my felted creations and the seven classical planets offer an abundance of ways to do that, from history lessons to astronomy lessons.  For example, the days of the week are named after these seven classical planets: Sun-day, Moon-day, Mars is Tuesday, Mercury is Wednesday, Jupiter is Thursday , Venus is Friday, and Saturn is Saturday.  At first glance only Saturday, Sunday, and Monday appear to fit, but if you look into the etymology of the others it becomes more apparent.  For example, Friday comes from the norse goddess Frigg who is the goddess of love.  Obviously, love and Venus are like peanut butter and jelly.  The tie between friday and Venus is even more evident in other languages; in French, Friday is named “Vendredi” and is derived from the Latin word “Veneris” or day of Venus.
Felt Ball of Sunshine
Wow, who knew that etymology and felting would ever cross one another; but I managed to do just that.  I am intrigued at ways one can incorporate toys into life lessons.  Just the other day I pulled out my felted globe and was teaching my daughter the seven continents with it.  I hope you enjoyed your lesson for today and I will be back in a few days with my felted version of the moon!  Have a wonderful Mercury-Day(whoops, Wednesday)!  I just love this stuff!

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A Felted Earth . . . Holding the World in Your Hands!

It’s back to school time for a lot of kids around my area of the world.  So, I decided to make something for the occasion.  I’ve been homeschooling my children for about 7 years now; last year, my son was given the project to make a map of the world, and he did a fantastic job of it.  Following in his footsteps, I’ve decided to jump start the school year with a serious lesson in geography by creating a felted model of our little home-EARTH!

Felt Earth Toy

This was no easy task; and I’m pretty sure that the north-south axis is a little off.  If this felted planet was home to millions, they would be in big trouble.  I got lost in the deep blue of the ocean and my mind started to drift during those stages.  I honestly felt a little anxious, as if I was in the middle of an ocean.

Felted Earth

Felted Globe

As a model, I’ll be honest, every continent has lost a little shoreline and Asia is probably proportionally larger than it even is in real life.  And it’s a huge continent!  For a toy, I think that this felted Earth is just perfect.  Who doesn’t want to hold the world in their hands.  All of my kids did!

Earth Felt Ball Toy

Felting Balls in the Washing Machine

Washing Machine, Wash, Wash . . . Wet Felted Balls

Felting can be a time consuming hobby; I am going to share a shortcut that I use occasionally to jumpstart my felting projects: wet felting in the washing machine!  It is a very simple process and while time wise it takes longer, the actual labor time is shorter.  So if you have some laundry to do and some felting projects looming, this is sure to help speed things along!

Wet Felting Balls with a Washing Machine

First things, first, materials needed are wool batting and pantyhose.  Other materials would be useful but are not required for this project; these include a digital scale and ribbons.

Wool Batting and Pantyhose

Now, that the supplies have been collected, it is time to begin!  First grab a handful of wool batting and lightly mold it into a “ball” shape in your hand.  This is to get an idea of the ball size itself; the wool will immediately lose any shape once you release your grip.  Choose a little more wool than necessary to get the ball size that you want because it will shrink some in the felting process.  If you are making several balls and you want them to be similarly sized, you can use a digital scale to weigh each handful of wool batting.  I chose roughly 20 grams of batting for each one of my balls.  At 20 grams, the end product will be a tennis ball size or slightly smaller.

Weighing Wool Batting

Next stuff the handful of batting into the toe of the pantyhose and tie it off.  You can knot the pantyhose itself or use some ribbon.  Knotted  pantyhose is a little tricky to undo after the felting process, so ribbon can make the job a lot easier.  I didn’t have enough ribbon on hand;  so as you can see,  I knotted off this first ball.

Stuffing the Pantyhose

If you have any colored wool batting on hand, you can make things a bit more interesting.  Simply take the handful of white batting and carefully hold it tight in your hand,  while surrounding it with the color batting of your choice.  Then grasping it firmly; so the color remains covering the white core, shove it down into the pantyhose again.  Now tie off!

Adding Colored Wool Batting

Continue this process, until you run out of batting!  Well, that’s what I did; my supplies are runnning dangerously low.  In the end you will have a pantyhose garland that looks something like this.

Pantyhose Filled With Wool Balls

I tied off the top with a ribbon.  I ran out of pantyhose leg and had to use the pantyhose bottom.  These were my daughter’s pantyhose, a size 12 months;  I have used these several times and they’re still holding on!  She stands next to me and reminds me “those pantyhose were mine when I was a baby, can you buy me more pantyhose?”.  Okay, enough cutesy kids stuff, back to work!

Using Ribbon to Tie off the Pantyhose Balls

The easy part is next,  throw this pantyhose garland in the wash with some sheets or blankets(something that requires a hot temperature setting).  Wash the load of clothes per usual.  Now wait. . . . . . . .

Felting Balls in the Washing Machine

Once the load of wash is done, throw it in the dryer and don’t forget those balls.  This is too easy.  Sidenote: after the wash, the fibers on the wool balls will be poking through your pantyhose garland;  this is ok and part of the process.

Felt Balls in the Dryer

Alright, the dryer has completed the felting process for us.  At this point, you can remove your felted balls from the pantyhose garland.  But wait, they are not super dense at this stage; you can throw them in with a few more loads and they will continue to get firmer each go around.  I am going to remove mine after one load; they are still a little squishable at this stage which is great if you are going to add needle felting details.   So let’s begin unwrapping the wool balls.  Untie the knots or ribbons.  Gently peel back the pantyhose; the felted ball will cling to the hose.  If you’re careful, the pantyhose can be reused again and again.

Remove the Felt Balls

That is how it’s done.  A child sized pantyhose held 7 wool balls.  With regular pantyhose, you could have tons of felted balls.  Don’t forget to pretty them up some; you could add many colors in the wash for a tie dyed effect or needle felt details on them.  You could even create a toy figurine out of these balls; some of my figurines have started with this simple shape.  Whatever you do, have fun with it and join me again to see what I did with my seven wet felted balls!

Felt Wool Balls

Goodbye Summer . . . A Felted Sea Turtle.

I’ve decided to make 7 creatures for this ocean themed collection.  And here they all are side by side.  Each one has a sweet face and a soft felty body.  In the end, I needle felted the following toys, in order: a”rainbow fish”, an angelfish, an octopus, a crab, a beluga whale, a blowfish and a sea turtle.  Each felted toy took about three to five hours to complete and they are roughly three to five inches long. That’s an hour for an inch of length.  So that is roughly 28 hours of labor right there.  Blood, sweat, tears, the usual- all went into those little cuties.  That’s kindof gross, but you get the idea.  I sat on the sofa, poke, poke, a glance up to see what was happening on my soap, and then poke some more; until,  I had a ocean menagerie of my very own.  It was so much fun to create these and in the end I got to see my husband and kids oww and aww over them.

Today, I’m sharing with everyone the very last felted creation for my farewell to summer, “Ocean Collection”.  It’s a  Sea Turtle!  I just love this little guy.  He is probably my favorite animal in this collection; his head and fins have these bold black markings while the green shell is understated in comparison.  The color contrast is very appealing!  Just look in the center of the picture below; he is the little guy leading the ocean parade.

Felted Ocean Collection

Here are two very leggy ocean creatures.  An octopus and a crab.  Eighteen legs combined on those little guys.  I have a rather large family and together my family only has fourteen legs.  If you’d like to see how to attach so many legs on a felt creation, check out this previous post on my little crab.

Felted Crab and Octopus

There are three fish.  All swimming in a row.  Who knew that “rainbowfish”, angelfish, and blowfish schooled together.  When you have an imagination they can and maybe a tiny beluga whale can join them; or a crab or a sea turtle!  The sea’s the limit.

Needle Felted Fish

And the final picture is of my two favorite creatures from this collection:  the “rainbow fish” and the sea turtle.  The very first creation and the very last.  I hope you enjoyed this adventure from felted”rainbow fish” to felted sea turtle with me.  It has been quite a journey; feel free to reminisce on the hot, balmy, beachy days while perusing my past few posts.  Goodbye Summer!

Sea Turtle and Fantasy Fish Felt Toys