Tuesday, July 13, 2010

comet ball tutorial

Whenever something easy enough for me to pull off comes along, I feel compelled to share. Zach loves playing catch with these comet balls because they flow so smoothly through the air and with the long tail, there is a better chance of actually catching it. That's why these make fabulous gifts for little ones who can't seem to get enough of tossing them around.

First you need a bundle of wool roving. You can get all shades of roving on etsy.com. I got much of mine at our local Sheep & Wool fest this spring. There are so many cool craft uses for roving, I always try to have some around.

Have some scissors, an old sock or old cut up pair of tights, and a big bowl of hot soapy water (you can use the sink too). I just use our regular dish soap.
Start wrapping your wool into a ball and dip it into the hot soapy water as you go. There are loads of tutorials on making wool felt balls. There's no right or wrong way. Just keep wetting and rubbing between your hands as you wrap layers of wool. The friction along with the hot soapy water binds the wool together.
We try to use odds and ends or colors we don't want for the bulk of the ball as you won't see any of it on the inside.
It's the last layer that counts.
For this ball we used a bright rainbow roving for the last layer, carefully wrapping it so all of the colors showed. We've also made "fire balls" all in reds/ yellows/ oranges and "ocean balls" in blues & greens. You get the idea.
Next, I pop the ball in a pair of old tight and toss it in the washer/ dryer. I do both the washer and the dryer just to give it that extra round of water and motion to really make it felt.
When it's all finished, find a tail. We used some tie dyed silks from our big tie dye session last summer. Here I am using the 11x60 inch silk from Dharma Trading, but I cut it in half getting two tails (11x30 inches each) per silk. Using the full 60 inches seems to be way too long. You could experiment with using other light weight colorful fabrics as well. You don't want the tail to weigh down the ball, but rather help it soar. You can get dyes at Dharma Trading or just simple tie dye kits at Michael's or other craft stores.
Pin the silk around the equator of the ball to hold it in place...
... and start stiching it on. Here I used rainbow twine but you can use embroidery thread too. I used a blanket stitch, I am sure any stitch would do. I also stich together a little of the tail from the ball down a few inches too to make it stronger (less likely to tear when you catch it).
And voila!
Seriously, these are fun for all ages and the best part is making all of the crazy colors and sizes you want. It's the sort of project where it makes more sense doing a bunch all at once rather than one at a time and it all goes faster than you think (especially when you have your own washer and dryer and don't have to wait for the marina laundry room to free up).

Now go play some catch!

19 comments:

Joy said...

Fun! I'll bet Finn would love that. I'll have to make him one. Heaven knows we have hundreds of dyed silks around here. :)

Amber Lee D. said...

cool! my youngest would love this...

lily boot said...

wow Zach! That is a truly magical ball! It looks so beautiful whizzing through the air. Abby and I will have to make some for her little boy cousins in Canada!

amy said...

That's such a great way to make it yourself! Great project!

Kimberly said...

Looks beautiful!

gardenmama said...

what a beautiful tutorial cindy!
it came out incredible! i will have to make some for our house too!

Brittney Harmon said...

i really might be able to catch that... cool!

affectioknit said...

I love that ball!

Nicole said...

So fun! We'll have to try making some of those as well.

CHILDHOOD MAGIC said...

wow, BEEAUUTIFUL! We will definitely make these.

Plain and Joyful Living said...

Oh, I just know my children will love these! Thank you.

Moment to Moment said...

Wow, love those, I will definitely make some, my little boy will LOVE them!
Thanks
~Christina

ellen said...

What a great tutorial- finally catching up! Many thanks for all your comments and ideas!

Anonymous said...

Wow! My cousin and I went all over town looking for one of these balls today and everyone we asked just looked at us like we were crazy. Nobody knew what we were talking about. The only person that knew what they were said he just moved to Alabama from New York :) I will definitely have to tell her about this and see if she can make one thanks.

guildmaker said...

aceness! beautiful and fun and handmade and rainbows altogether? a few of my favorite things! thanks for sharing.

Guilcolax said...

This is a really neat idea that I shared with my wife. As home schooling parents we're always looking for fun activities - without spending precious dollars. You can visit some of her ideas at blog dot booturtle dot com. Thanks for sharing.

Hip Mountain Mama said...

How fun...going to give this a try soon!
suzy

Denise said...

We are so happy to have Comet Balls made my you and Z! The girls love them and it's a wonderful memory of our time in Hawaii with you! We miss you! xoxo

Anonymous said...

This project is awesome, I am going to make a bunch to give away as parting gifts for my daughters 4th birthday, and what fabulous b'day gifts they are too! Thanks for posting the tutorial :)

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