making felted soap with a toddler

Words really aren't necessary to convey how much fun this was for all involved. The soft roving (from a local farm), the colors, the warm water, the plentiful bubbles - all combined for a lovely and entertaining sensorial experience for Finn. We used this tutorial from Rhythm of the Home and set ourselves up on the porch with plenty of towels covering the floor. Without furthur ado, I'll let the pictures do the talking ...

making felted soap 1

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making felted soap 6

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Wait, I need to insert some words here. The tutorial called for cutting up an old pair of panty hose to hold the wool in place as you felt it. Panty hose are NOT something that I have anywhere in my house, not even in the deepest crevices of my sock drawer. I do believe that the last time I was forced to wear a pair was at my wedding over six years ago. Instead, I grabbed a stockinette tube that I had on hand in my doll making supplies. Mistake. The stockinette adhered to the wool, and it was a headache to remove. Next time we do this, I'll get myself a pair of panty hose. And I know just where to find a pair. In my mom's closet.

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Two beautiful felted soaps, great for washing up, eliminating the need for a washcloth. Finn's is the green/blue version (although I did provide a good amount of help to get it properly felted) and mine is the one with the sun. I added a bit of needle felting to mine once it was dry.

But you know what? Finn didn't end up using the soap in the bath that day. In fact, he didn't end up taking a bath that evening. He'd already had a good sudsing in the afternoon, as you can see!


finn's first ball

felt ball

If at first you don't succeed, throw the towel ... along with the soggy ball ... into the dryer. Felting, that is. I thought this project was doomed. It wasn't shrinking enough, I didn't have enough dark blue wool to cover the entire surface, and it seemed to be drying lopsided. Good thing that felting, as a craft, is so forgiving. Nothing like a hot dryer to whip that wool into shape.

felt ball

But oh, we had so much fun making this big ball of wool ... it wouldn't have mattered if the final product came out or not! After my hot water cooled a bit, Finn absolutely loved getting his hands in the water and on the wool. 

The ball is large as far as felt balls go - about 4 1/2" in diameter. I've noticed Finn's interest in larger objects, and his very intense desire to move along the floor (albeit backwards, much to his chagrin) and thought a big ball would match his needs both at the moment and well into the future. (Can you picture seven year-old Finn tossing this ball around the house? I swear there are moments, expressions, in which I can see the person he will become through the baby chub and drool.)

felt ball

I wound the roving round and round, as tightly as I could, until it measured about 6" in diameter, at which time I poured hot, soapy water over it. Finn and I turned, smooshed, submersed, and twisted it until it seemed pretty hopeless, as some of the outer layer of roving wasn't shrinking as it should.

felt ball

Hot dryer to the rescue! A thirty minute whirl with some towels did the trick. I added the dots with a felting needle.

All in all, this turned out to be a great little project. It got rave reviews from the youngest critic, both for the process and the finished product.

  felt ball

felt ball