Felted Acorns – An Autumn Tutorial

My yard is filled with oak trees.  That means that at times it feels like it is practically raining acorns.  We constantly hear them thunking on the deck or on the roof.  You can’t step outside without crunching on an acorn. Clearly, we have busy squirrels.

We all have our own way of dealing with the excess around here.  My kids collect handfuls of them to feed the squirrels. My husband rakes them out of the garden, dumping them in the woods.  This year, I am felting them.

Supplies:

  • Wool Roving – I found mine at a local yarn and fiber fair, but wool roving is also sold at your local yarn shop or at craft stores in the yarn or needle felting area.
  • Acorns and Acorn Caps
  • Nylon Stockings – an old or cheap pair – I used a set of knee high pantyhose
  • Hot Soapy Water
  • Glue Gun

Location and Time:

I spread this out of over 3 of days.

  • First day to collect acorns and dry them out in the oven.
  • Second day to wet felt the acorns and let them dry- best done at a table or counter near hot running water.
  • Third day to glue on the acorn caps.

The felting process took the longest, but that depends on how many you make.  I made 25 and it took me a bit over an hour.

Skill Level:

Medium – It does take a bit of practice to felt your wool into a smooth ball that looks like an acorn.  But, 1/2 the ball is hidden inside the acorn cap.  Plus, I have included a number of tips on how to avoid problems.  Perfection is not necessary here.  Read through those and you will be good!

Process:

Collect and Prep the Acorns

1. Collect acorns or just acorn caps, if you can.

Helper is optional.

2.  Place all acorns on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees of a couple of hours.  This dries out the nuts and makes the caps easy to remove from the acorns.  Keep a couple of acorns for size reference when wet felting.  Go feed the rest to a squirrel.

Wet Felting the Acorns

Now, there are many ways to wet felt a ball of wool.  Some people prefer to felt each by hand.  I find that when making a bunch of acorns, this technique below works best (and fastest!) for me.

  1.  Pull fibers from one end of the wool roving, enough to make a little ball about 1 and 1/2 times as big as your acorn. The easiest way to do this, is to hold a section of the roving in one hand and two to three inches from the end,  and pull a group of fibers from that end.  As you can see, the fibers are all going to same direction and will easily separate from the roving.
  2. Wind the fibers into a little smooth ball.  I usually start, by winding it around my finger, removing it from my finger and continuing to wind it from another direction.
  3. Place your little ball of wool in the toe of the stocking and knot it close to the ball.  Make sure to stretch the nylon as tight and smoothly as possible around the ball of wool.
  4. Make another ball of wool and add it to the nylon, snugging it in and knotting as close as possible to the last ball.
  5. Repeat until you have a whole bunch.  The more, the merrier! And I always make a few extra in case any balls come out wonky from the bulk felting process.
  6. Place your strings of wool balls in a large container of hot soapy water.  (Do this in the sink!)  Start agitating the wool by moving it around, swirling it in circles…. and squeezing it.  The goal here is to start the felting process.  You want to BE that washing machine you accidentally once stuck your wool sweater into.  You know, the time that the sweater that shrunk down to 1/2 the size? Thanks to hot, soapy water and lots of swishing and swooshing. Add more hot water and soap when necessary and continue doing this until you feel the wool starting the firm up and turn into felted balls.
  7. As the wool balls start shrinking and felting, make sure the nylons are not affecting the shape.  For example: Here part of the extra nylon is digging into the ball, putting a groove right in the middle of the ball!  If this happens, occasionally pull the nylon away while felting to keep the ball round.
  8. Once the balls are felted, remove them from the stockings.  They may stick and be a bit fuzzy. That is okay!  Just dip them in soapy water and give them a good roll between the palms of your hands.

Acorn Shaping

  1. Now you have a ton of small felted balls.  But,  what if one your felted acorn looks a little wonky?  Take this blue guy for instance, a little oblong and too big for an acorn cap. Easy to fix! Take a pair of scissors and trim it down to size.  Next, give the felted ball a dip in hot soapy water and roll in the palms of your hands again.  The ball should be easy to reshape.  If not, it does not matter if the trimmed side is not perfect.  That side will be hidden by the acorn cap.
  2. Once you have a selection of felted balls, now is the time to fit each ball to a cap.  The trick here is to make sure the balls are proportional the cap.  They should be slightly smaller than the acorn cap.  Let me show you what I mean: The felted ball on the left is too big, while the one on the right is proportional and slightly tapered, just like an acorn!  How to fix?  Grab those scissors, trim the ball to size and then reshape is a bit by rolling between your hands and pinching the tip to make it tapered. Now it fits, just right!
  3. Once the acorns are sized and shaped, separate the balls from the caps and let everything dry overnight.

Attaching the Acorns to Caps

  1. Now that the felted acorns and caps are nice and dry, time to get out the glue gun. Glue the felted acorn to the cap.  I find that putting the glue inside the cap works best.
  2. Apply some pressure and you have got yourself one felted acorn.
  3. Repeat until surrounded by acorns.

So now what?  What do you do with a bunch of felted acorns?  Well that is up to you.  You could attach them to string and hang them as little ornaments or as fall garland.  You could give them to friends or put them in a child’s nature corner.  Me…I am going to put them in a bowl on the counter where I can look at them every day.  I have a feeling that some with disappear to my kids’ fairy garden and some I will probably give away to people.  Oh well, I can always make more next year. We are not going to run out of acorns.

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