Tennis balls, pure rubber balls, or any ball that bounces can be given a felt cover to soften their impact and sound but still maintains the fun of a bouncing ball. They are also washable! I first made felted balls over twenty five years ago and they were featured in Country Loving Magazine.
With a herd of Jacob Sheep at the ready, their wool exhibiting the softness of cashmere and the glistening of mohair, with fibers three inches long, coming in colors of white, brown and grey... it's time to make felt balls again, just the right size for little hands. The balls can be made without a ball inside by just making a compressed wool ball first soaking it in soapy water and then squeezing into shape and removing as much water as your can, then adding the layers of wool.
But to make them really bounce, wrap the tennis ball with a thin layer of wool going in one direction then placing another layer in the other direction. In effect creating a cross hatching pattern until the ball is completely covered in the thickness of one inch or more. Cover the ball with a stocking and place into a washing machine with three times the normal amount of laundry soap, what ever kind you use. Keep the water level just over the height of the balls, washing with hot water and rinsing cold. During the wash reach in and check on the balls shape, giving it an adjustment with your hands if needed. When done throw in the dryer for 10 minutes or until they feel dry. Removing the stocking will pull up fibers, so go slowly and it will peal off.
Do this and you will have felted balls that will roll and bounce ever so softly and quietly. Great for inside play but just as good outside.
The felted balls I made 25 years ago I still have, they are a little worn but they still bounce! But these new felted balls made with Jacob Wool are hard to put down, they create such a tactile feeling of softness and warmth.
Or maybe I can't put them down because I know where the wool came from.....my very good friends!
P.S. Don't forget to enter the amazing book giveaway for It's a Jungle Out There!!!
*Last time in Crafts and Imagination: Stick Stacks