'The ball is the first toy a child should have, for it is the symbol of the whole.'
I picked up a a book from the library about making toys that evoke using the imagination. And although my son is a wee bit beyond first toys developmentally, I thought I'd start with a simple project of making a fleece ball since I've got quite a bit of yarn up my sleeve at the moment. So here's the how to..
Start with some felt or unspun sheep's wool and randomly wrap it tightly around itself into a ball shape. It will shrink in the making process so make it a third bigger than your intended finish size. (make it small enough to be held by tiny hands but too big too fit into tiny mouths).
Now wrap randomly some selected colours of yarn around the felt ball for the outer layer.
Submerge the ball in a sink or bowl full of warm water until it is soaked.
Generously squirt the ball with washing up detergent.
Now cup, rub and pack the ball as if you were making a snowball. Keep the roundness of the ball.
Work the ball quickly so that the outer fibers begin the to lock. You'll need to do this for at least 5-7 minutes for the felting to begin. Rinse in cold water, still cupping, rubbing and packing the ball. This helps to firm the locking fibers.
Re-submerge the ball in warm water add more detergent if you need to and work at it again for another 5 minutes.
Thoroughly rinse the ball in cold water, sqeezing all of the soap out. Rub in a towel and dry.
The ball will take a long time to dry out properly, place it in front of the heater to speed up the process.