I had several people who had questions about the cat toys that I make that are felted. So here’s a little tutorial that shows how I make my cat toys. I apologize for the quality of the photos as I did this fairly quickly and didn’t have the proper lighting or any assistance. But you’ll get the idea
Supplies Needed: Practice golf balls, old pantyhose, wool roving, plastic beads (sized to fit through holes in golf balls), felting needle and a washing machine.
I buy the golf balls in bags of 24. You can usually find them in small amounts in stores that sell golfing supplies.
I buy the cheapest pantyhose I can find and re-use them until they are falling apart.
The beads are also the cheapest I can find – they are plastic and most come in strands that I just cut apart.
Begin with a piece of wool roving and the plastic golf ball and wrap the wool around the golf ball. In the photo above, I have pictured the amount of wool that I generally use to cover the ball.
Wrap the wool around the ball holding it tightly so the wool is snug against the ball.
The ends will look like this after the first wrap.
Use a felting needle to needle the ends into the wrapped wool just so it will hold together.
Then push the wool over the ‘end’ of the ball and needle it down until it holds together without any holes.
Put a bead through one of the holes and then needle that “end” of wool over the ball. Generally I needle for about 1-2 minutes at the most. All you want is for the wool to hold together over the ball at this point.
This is what the ball looks like after I have finished needling. As you can see it isn’t round but that gets taken care of in the wet felting process.
The next step is to put the ball into the end of the pantyhose leg. I couldn’t get a photo of myself doing this as I don’t seem to have enough hands.
Then tie off the ball in the pantyhose with a loose knot. Do not pull the knot really tight or you’ll have difficulty getting the knots out later. Continue the steps above until you have filled the pantyhose legs with wool covered balls or until you have made as many as you need. I usually put 9 balls in each leg so that there are 18 in each pantyhose. This last set I made, I did a total of 6 dozen. Now I’m all ready for Christmas sales and lots of happy cats!
The next step is to throw the ball filled pantyhose into the washing machine. I usually just put them in with another load that I am already doing such as towels or jeans. I run them through the regular cycle with the same amount of soap I would normally use in the washing machine. If you are using wool that you aren’t sure whether the color will run, put them in with one of those sheets that absorbs extra dye or wash them separately.
Once the wash cycle is completed, pull them out and hang them to dry. You can remove them from the pantyhose when they are wet but the knots are easier to take out when everything is dry.
When they come out of the pantyhose, the cat toy still looks a little fuzzy and may have loose ends that got caught in the knot.
Use your felting needle to felt in any loose ends and to get rid of the “fuzzies”. Hold the needle at an almost parallel angle to the surface of the wool when you’re needling. Do not needle straight into the plastic golf ball or you may break a needle.
Here’s the bag of cat toys, about half of what I made. Obviously, you could put more decorations on these but I don’t think the extra effort is worth it. This idea can be used to make Christmas ornaments as well. Several years ago, I bought larger baseball sized whiffle balls and decorated them.
I added the swirls and “blobs” afterwards with a felting needle.
To hang these ornaments, I just threaded a large needle with matching yarn and made a loop of yarn at one end.
Here are the ornaments on the tree. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and do let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to see your efforts if you try out the tutorial.