diy wednesday: felted rocks


in the past couple years we’ve received little groupings of felted rocks as gifts, and we absolutely love them. since we had recently been playing around with wool roving, we thought it would be fun to see if we could make a few ourselves. after a bit of research and experimenting here’s what we came up with.

have fun!
derek & lauren

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions after the jump…

here’s what you’ll need:
scissors
wool roving
a bowl of hot soapy water
drying rack or towel

1. cut off a generous handful of wool roving and loosen the fibers by gently pulling them apart with your fingers.

2. gather the wool into a loose ball that is about twice the size of what you’d like for your completed rock, and dip it into a bowl full of hot soapy water. (to create a decorative line across the face of the rock, wrap a strand of white roving around the ball before dipping.)

3. the wool will immediately begin to shrink up. once it has fully absorbed the water, remove it from the bowl and continually pass it back and forth between your hands until it has cooled. re-dunk and repeat the process until the wool has reached the desired rock size and density. during this process you can try to encourage the shape of the rock, but we found that most of the shaping takes place in the next step.

4. rinse your rock with cold water. Gently squeeze out the water and begin shaping the rock with your fingers. repeat rinsing and shaping a couple of times until you are happy with the form of your rock.
5. place on a drying rack or towel and let dry overnight.

rhaya

Love it! I have seen similar “rocks” on some of my favorite sites, but they are always a little out of my price range. Any suggestions on where to get roving that is animal and environmentally friendly?

Jenn

Only one suggestion I would make- I would pull the fibers apart instead of cutting them. Cutting them makes short fibers that show up more in felt and make them more fuzzy then sleek. FIbers pull apart eaisly by pulling apart roving or top from 12 inches or more apart.

Jenn
(who makes eco friendly fibers)

Julia

I’ve never worked with wool roving before, and I was wondering how much roving you might need for this project. Online it seems to be sold by the pound, but I can’t really tell how much volume you get for a pound and how much I should purchase. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Emmie

I am so happy to see this post! I’ve been hoping to find a way to make these without using a felting needle.

Ann

You actually get quite a lot in a pound. Think cotton candy, just a tad bit denser. So get a pound of grey wool and maybe a small amount of white cashmere or angora for the accent stripe… then you can make some rocks for all your friends!

Martha

I might be alone here- but does anyone else not get these? They look cute I guess, but I don’t really want fake rocks around. I don’t know what I’d do with these if I got them as a gift.

Steph

Martha: I was thinking the same thing. She’s received them as gifts multiple times? Why do people keep giving her felted rocks?

Although they do seem like a fun little project. I just don’t know that I would give it as a gift.

Chelsea

I always thought that these would be very difficult to make so I never looked into making them. I’m so happy to learn that they are so easy and I can’t wait to try!

erica

1. i did this and actually weighed them. but i can’t remember how much they weighed. i want to say between half an ounce and an ounce. that’s dry weight. usually you can buy roving in 4-oz bunches.
2. there’s a much less time-intensive way to make felt balls… shove a loosely wrapped ball into the toe of a nylon stocking, tie a knot, another ball, another knot, etc. then put the whole thing in the washing machine. when it’s done, you can add stripes or whatnot by hand. if you want them tighter, you can add more wool and wash them again.
3. they’re a WAY cooler alternative to fake fruit, i’ll say that much about them.

erica

oh, i forgot to say that you have to let them dry before you can really judge the tightness of the felt. you can use the dryer for at least part of the drying, otherwise it takes a while.

Amanda Nicole

These are adorable! I actually have a minor collection of this type of rock; it would be nice to play with textures by adding felt ones in a bowl with the real ones!

rebecca

don’t be intimidated!

don’t buy a pound of roving!

they are much less than a pound. your local yarn shop probably has some bins from which you can buy small quantities.

don’t cut with scissors!

ok, so really – imagine…. let’s see, to be a the most accurate but gross (so sorry) when you pull the hair out of your hair brush to throw it away, if you wad it up it turns into a little ball. same thing with roving. you’ve got a bunch of fiber that ultimately wads up fairly tight. the warm water and soap help little barbs on the fiber open and lock together.

you can also take some roving (a good handful of roving shouldn’t be more than about a buck, if that) and wrap it around a new bar of soap. you’ll be able to tell that the wool is grabbing a bit. stop, let it dry, and you have a built in loofa as you continue to use the soap. I made little balls that were round and used them as part of a mobile balanced with little felt animals and a felt “log”.

if all else fails, have a fun time experimenting to see how it works. don’t even ask about my “bacon” scarf…. hahaha.

Greta

Martha and Steph, these little rocks have many uses, not the least of which is eye candy. I use mine placed around votives to make an attractive tablescape. I put a couple next to my annwood bird on a side table in my living room. You can use them as paperweights at home or work. And, last but not least, they make very cute place settings, when you set them atop a napkin atop a plate.

Adrian

seems to be an ideal alternative for some one with one of those dogs who just loves to play fetch with real rocks, and who always risks breaking some more teeth. a felted rottweiler treat. ( ;

Ana

Oloop design, which is a name of three girls working together with their ideas, made even more lovely thing with this process. They made stone soaps out of wool; wrapping nice scented soaps in felt, with the rock effect. They even won a Red Dot design award for their other felt design. Check it out at http://www.oloopdesign.com/node/show/15

wren

i made paperweights for our wedding guest book sheets felting actual rocks. i thought i was so clever… little did i know!

Katherine

i love this! needle felting has been my obsession for the past month and in my opinion is the BEST. CRAFT. EVER. thanks, guys!

M.E.

I once lived on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where these rocks always appeared on shore. I was told that the grey rocks with white rings are wishing rocks. I still have some, and they still seem magical to me.

Beth Grim

I’ve made quite a few felted “blobs” for my kitty to play with…she especially loves chasing ones with little bells inside.

For myself, I prefer felting around actual rocks. It’s fun to do and the finished product has a nice weight to it. I use them as cutting weights for when I cut out fabric. (I just blogged about it the other day!) I also warm them up by the fire and slip one into my pocket to keep my fingers warm during a chilly walk in the woods.

Linda Lanese

Hi Derek & Lauren,

I love this tutorial on felted rocks that you put together for your readers and I did do an article on craft gossip featuring this tutorial. What a wonderfully active blog you have. And I hope you and all your readers stop by Craft Gossip at the following link and leave some comments. Thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial.

http://felting.craftgossip.com/2009/02/20/felted-rock-tutorial-by-derek-lauren-design-sponge/

Linda
Craft gossip felting editor

Tamara

These would also work nicely as pin cushions. Perhaps even stitch on a ribbon to tie the ‘pin cushion’ to your wrist while sewing.

kristin

ok, so I just happened to have some wool roving here at the house cuz I wanted to try this a while back -needlefelting…it was impossible! But this technique… this isnt bad… I tried one tonight, and its not as pretty as these, but its ok. maybe the type/quality of the wool roving makes a difference? anyone? thanks so much for the tutorial!!

Genevieve

Do you think it would be possible to make these in larger sizes? I’m thinking pillowish.

Alice

Does someone knows whetes i could make pillows like these rocks? They would look really nice on the floor, like stones on a riverbed… Maybe using a washing machine and one of those bags you use to wash delicate lingerie? What do you think?

Grace

I really enjoy this project. Very simple, clean, elegant, and natural touch. I’ve seen something similar on a larger scale, where the “rocks” were more like pillow or oversized cushions. Any idea how to get the same look with a cozy cuddly oversized floor “rock”?

Meg

I have been coveting the felted wool stones at vivaterra. com They are a much larger version made by a women’s co-op in South Africa, but run $300-600. Do you think it would be possible to do this project yourself on a larger scale?

MarceeC

re: those who wish to make large-scale “rocks.”
If you want a solid wool rock, start with a relatively small (maybe softball-sized) ball as a base upon which to build, or else it will take forever to get the middle felted. If you can get it, use cheap, clean, but otherwise unprocessed wool for the center so you aren’t paying boutique prices by the end of this. Look for local farmers who may have fleece to sell through your grange co-op, or farmers’ market. Stuff wool into the toe of an old nylon stocking until you have something the size of a softball or so. Squirt a little liquid soap in the stocking too, tie a knot just above where the wool stuffing ends, and cut off the rest of the stocking. If you tie another knot in the newly-amputated stocking you could start stuffing another ball & repeat the process.
Toss the nylon-cased wool balls into the washing machine with a warm or hot load. Top-load washers give more agitation than front-loaders, but either works for this project. The point is to get a base to build your bigger rock up from. After the wash, cut the knot off the nylon casing & remove the resulting ball. Wrap the ball with a thin layer of wool, then another thin layer of wool with the wool fibers perpendicular to the previous layer’s fibers. Repeat this process until just before you reach the stage where the layers won’t hold together as a ball any more (you may have to take off a layer or two when you figure out where that is). Dip the ball in warm sudsy water & handle as in the blog instructions, after which you may be able to continue adding layers, or you may want to put the ball in a mesh lingere bag & launder it again. I recommend the machine for a large project just to save your arm muscles from some of the agitating and the skin of your hands some of the soaking in soapy water. When you are 1-2 inchen in diameter short of your desired size (taking into account that the rock will shrink some as it dries), start using the colored roving for your rock surface, including any stripes or inclusions. Consider using the clothes dryer for a relatively long run to make sure this is dry all the way through. Sitting on a moldy rock is not the effect you’re going for.
My second suggestion is to make a felted rock skin, like a bean bag chair, & stuff it with packing pellets, bean bag pellets, foam rubber (can be custom cut by suppliers to fit your rock), or, if you want more firmness while still confroming to the sitter, buckwheat hulls are cheap & availble from bulk food suppliers (you might get a discount if you buy a whole bag). Look at the instructions for felting over a bucket at http://www.outbackfibers.com/info/hatbuc.htm as a guide. Use a wash tub or large non-reactive metal or plastic bowl/box of the approximate base size and shape you want. You can add extra layers of wool to fill out areas to add structure if the base bowl isn’t exactly the shape you want your finished rock to be. If your base is too big to use pantyhose tops as recommended in the page above, you could use a big old t-shirt turned inside out so the side seams don’t rub unevenly on the wool. If you’re going really big, try an old knit sheet from a thrift store.
Good luck to all!

Andrea

check out these large scale “rocks” for sale…I thought they were so neat but then I saw the price. Decided to try DIY and save a couple hundred. One large felted wool stone costs $595 at http://www.vivaterra.com

Aditi

Hello,
I am quite new to this art form, just started creating shapes using cookie cutters. I really liked this idea of Felt Rocks and I am going to try it out. Thanks very much for this friendly guide.

hilary

I’ve been eying the same huge felted rocks as Andrea- I LOVE em, but no way am i going to spend the $$. Any ideas for making them huge? I saw the vivaterra cushion ones at an apartment and i think they are stuffed with foam inside- very squishy.

Theoretical Shopaholic

Wow Marcee, thanks so much for the detailed instructions for giant rocks. I’ll probably start small, but that’s exactly what I want in my living room!

mercedes

Hi everyone. I can’t believe that i found other people such as myself who want to make felt boulders for indoors. I’m new to the “working with felt scene”. I can’t wait to experiment with small projects first. Thanks for the information.

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