My first Christmas-y act this year was to join an ornament exchange over at Small Fox in a Big World. I love Christmas ornaments whether buying, receiving or making them. I was full of ideas, but I decided I wanted to do something with felt balls. You can buy felt balls ready made, but I find them fun and easy to make.
My raw materials: merino tops (easiest material for beginning felters), lampwork glass beads and embroidery floss.
First I had to felt the balls. This took a couple of days. The basic science of felting is this: when wool gets warm and wet, little barbs on its surface open up (picture all those split ends and scaly hair they show us in shampoo adverts) and as it cools and dries they lock in together. To make these, I bundle up a bit of the wool, add soap flakes and hot water, and roll it around until it is ball shaped. Then I add layers of the wool at little at the time to build up a smooth shape. Some just go wrong though and the cat gets them for toys! More rolling makes the ball smoother and firmer. Remember, this is hard on the hands, use hand cream when you're done (you can always use Deanne's recipe)!
I played around a little to get the design I wanted. Part of the decision came down to the fact that I couldn't face making any more felt balls, although I had originally planned to thread more of them. I was happy with this design though and like the element of chance thrown in by the variety of beads in my pack. If you wanted more control, of course you could by a packet of matching beads.
The final step was to stitch these simple snowflakes onto opposite sides of each ornament. I hope the recipients like them - I've kept a couple for myself! You can see what everyone else is sharing here.