Felt Ball Garlands

The Story

I remember learning that in a certain language the way to describe a person who is generous is say that their hands are large.  Immediately, my mind fill with a room full of hands directly proportioned to their generosity.  In real life, generosity is an act that is only marked on your heart, something you know but doesn’t show.

My own generosity ebbs and wanes.  Raised an only child, sharing can be a challenge. I have been the one eating the last Hershey kiss in the candy dish. (Sorry, colleagues.)  But, I have also been the one to pass the last cup of coffee to a friend in need. (If you knew me, you would see this as an act of indescribable generosity and selflessness).

It was in one of the more generous moments that I decided that I would buy thousands and thousands of felt balls from a group of women in Nepal with a micro-business.  This is some years ago now, so I can’t quite remember the group.  I remember the picture vividly. A small cracked hand cupping a vivid red lump of wet wool.  In that moment, I knew I could help them get started.

Then, reality slapped me in the form of ginormous Tyvec bags of balls. (Enter dirty jokes here.) I left them in my then office so that I could be faced with my profligate choices daily. Finally, I opened the bags. Slashing through the grimy packing bags, I was confronted with a bounty of color.  There were so many shades of blue that I lost count.  It was like color theory in action. The red and orange, warm colors, popped with excited.  And, now, I was responsible to harvest this bounty–to do something with these.

After that, there were coasters, necklaces, side tables, trivets, shoes, and garlands.  

My friend joked that they would have been ideal for a happy person’s padded room.  There were days when I was trying to decrease our store, in order to be able to fit them in the closet, (Ah Konmari, they all brought me joy), I felt like ditching them all.  But, mostly, those beauty of those felt orbs were enchanting. They fueled more than a year of creativity. After my work joy, I ended up buying some for myself.  This time, my daughters got to enjoy the experience of opening the bag. In looking back, they remind me that generosity is not altruistic.  Generosity offers exponential returns for the giver.

The Dog

If you think these felt balls appealed to me, you should have seen the reaction from Pixie.  All the things she loved in one bag: balls, chew toys, sock-like deliciousness.  When they toppled off the craft table, wonkily rolling down the hall, Pixie would joyfully stalk her colorful prey. Catching them, she would bat them around. Oh, the colors she could eat. And, we often found chewed balls in corners, macerated and mangy. Though once made into craft form, like coasters, Pixie has completely lost interest in them.

The Directions

The felt balls are surprisingly dense.  Use sharp upholstery needle and a sturdy help string.

I have fairly strong hands, from years of being a crafting ne’er-do-well, but I often needed a pair of pliers to pull the string through.

The density of the balls mean that they stay put, so I played with having elements of the garland with just string, sort of like a rest in a line of music.  I also made some with beads. Experiment with pattern!

Finally, be warned, these garlands are surprisingly heavy.  So, you might consider hanging them from hooks.

Leave a Reply