Thursday, September 18, 2014

DIY: A Felted Ball Mobile Tutorial

 My baby girl needed a mobile. And I wanted to make one! So I put together a felted ball mobile and decided to make a tutorial of it, in case you wanted to make one too. Some people have found wet felting to be an intimidating process to try, but it can really be pretty simple. This is a nice beginner project to try to build up confidence. It is hard to get this one wrong! I use a bit of needle felting in the beginning to help out with the wet felting later, but you might be able to skip this part.

What You Will Need:
plain white wool roving
multiple colours of wool roving
a felting needle (this is a special needle that has barbs on it)
a grater
hot water
white vinegar

And for the mobile assembly:
copper wire
wire cutters
needle nosed pliers
white thread
hot glue gun

Step 1:
Pull off about a 5inch long section of white roving. I always pull it apart and never cut it, as cutting leaves weird short fibres.

 Step 2:
Form the white wool into a loose ball.
 Step 3:
Use your needle felting needle to stab it a few times until it holds its shape as a ball.
 This is what it looks like after jabbing it a few times all around.
 Step 4:
Spread your coloured roving apart by pulling it.
 Step 5:
Wrap the coloured roving around your ball to loosely cover it. Pull off the rest of the roving that you don't need.
 Step 6:
Use your needle felting needle to stab all around the ball again, securing the colour in place and making sure that all the white spots are covered. Pull off more coloured roving and use it to cover any white spots if you still find you have holes.
 Your ball should look something like this when it is ready to be wet felted.
 Step 7:
Move to a place where it is ok to get wet. I like to use a bath tub. Now you'll need some soap and a grater along with a watering can filled with really hot water (for this wet felting project, you could probably just use the tap).
 Step 8:
Grate some soap flakes onto your ball.
 Step 9:
Sprinkle some really hot water onto your ball. Make sure it isn't too hot though- you have to be able to handle the ball.
Step 10:
 Pick up the ball and squeeze it in your hands repeatedly. You should feel it start to shrink up right away.
 Step 11:
Roll the ball around in your hands (like how you would make a play dough ball). Use lots of pressure. Within minutes the ball will have shrunk right down and will feel solid.
 This is what the felted ball will look like when it is done.
Step 12:
Rinse the ball under lukewarm water until all the soap is out of it.
 Step 13:
Soak the ball in 10 parts water, 1 part white vinegar. The vinegar neutralizes any soap that may be remaining in the felt. If you skip this stage, the felt may eventually rot. Soak them for 10 minutes.
Step 14:
Rinse the balls under water until you get most of the vinegar out and let them dry. This took about two days before they were fully dry, but I am impatient and assembled my mobile while they were still wet. They dried just fine while hanging in the air.

How to assemble the mobile:
Take a pair of wire cutters and cut a roughly 6inch piece from the copper wire. Use the needle nosed pliers to roll the ends under and gently bend a curve into the wire. Cut as many of these as you need for your style of mobile. I cut 3 6inch pieces, and one larger 10inch piece.
Next, thread your needle and put a knot in the end. Pull this through one ball, then make another knot about 1.5inches above the ball and thread another ball onto the string. Tie this onto one of the loops on the copper wire piece. Repeat for the other side. Then use a thread to attach this piece from the centre to a loop on another copper wire piece (see the picture of the mobile). Build from the the bottom up and balance the mobile by sliding the threads. When everything is in place how you like it, use a tiny glob of hot glue gun glue to keep the threads in place and from sliding. Make one large thread to hang from the ceiling. DONE! Enjoy your mobile! I know my little girl loves hers!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guess What Time of Year It Is?

Mmmhmmm, it's fall. We went for a walk this afternoon, all four of us, to soak up some lovely colours.

 We watched a large bird catch a fish. An osprey, perhaps?
 A seagull gave chase.

Have the leaves started to change in your home?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Last Hurrah of Summer

 Last weekend we were blessed with temperatures of 25c. Faced with the reality that this may be the last warm weekend of summer, we packed up the kids and drove out to Tezzeron lake.
The sky was blue, the lake was calm, and the air was warm.
We picnicked by the lake and rowed in our little dingy. I jumped in the lake and Kesten waded on the beach.
My rosy baby.
A game of soccer was played between the siblings.

On Sunday I got to go mountain biking with two other women. It was great fun!
Yesterday evening, Kesten and I toiled in the garden to bring in the (meagre) harvest. I guess we did better than expected, since we never weeded once and hardly watered. Tomatoes, apples, beans, lettuce, zucchini, potatoes, and eggs were brought inside. I still have many more apples to pick. Our timing was good though. This morning it was -5c with a heavy frost. 
And I will leave you with this sneak peak of things to come! I'm working on a little tutorial.

Friday, September 5, 2014

To the Pithouse!

Remember back in July when we tried to go to the pithouse/beaver lodge? Well that hike was canceled due to a large bear that crashed away in the bush as we arrived. But we thought we would try again later, when the bears are down by the rivers, glutting themselves on the spawning salmon. So yesterday, we drove up the North road again and headed into the bush. Armed with bear spray and a plan, we set out, two women, four children, and a dog. Ears and eyes peeled. The dog went ahead to flush out any possible ursine loiterers. 

 We made it to the location of the pithouse without incident. Pithouses are dwellings made partly underground that were used by the people of this area in the past. This one is a recreation of a typical pithouse.

 The pithouse has a log frame and the roof is filled in with mud. It looks very similar to a beaver lodge, one of which is visible through the trees in the picture below (now uninhabited). Perhaps beaver lodges were the original inspiration for the pithouse.
 The inside is dug into the ground, with a firepit in the centre and ledges around the outer walls. People would sleep on the ledges.
 The boys soon got to work filling up the fire pit with all the stacked logs. They pretended to light fires and cook food.
 A glimpse of green through the smoke hole.
 While I was in there, I tried to imagine what it would be like to spend winter in a pithouse. Especially during a cold winter that used to be the norm. I'm sure you would burn through a lot of trees as the temperature dipped below -50c!
 A hole in the mud roof allowed some sunlight in to nurture some opportunistic plants.
 There would normally be a ladder to go in and out of the hole in the centre of the roof. The cover for the hole is to the right of the photo.
 A food cache is built in the nearby trees.

 After spending close to two hours, playing in and around the pithouse, we finally convinced our reluctant boys to head back along the trail, preceded (of course) by the dog. An old beaver-felled tree lay alongside the path. We made it back to our vehicles without any run-ins with bears.
 And, as we pulled up onto our street, a black bear darted across and into a yard to eat berries. Go figure.

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