There are a lot of good kitty toy patterns out there for the discrimating cat companion. But one of our favorites is the one that drove our late, lamented Janice crazy - the simple felted ball. Felt is an attractive material for kitty play: its toughness is necessary for what is after all play-murder, and its chewy but giving texture is satisfactorily similar to that of a well-fed mouse. The inherent hairiness also give a nice bit of realism, without causing undue shedding, and rarely leads to hairballs. These balls are better than a plain felt construction because they're lighter, faster to make, and also very much because of the enclosed bell. They're a nice recycling use for the drum-carder or combing rejects of short fibers, and a quick project for presents.
PS: You might have to hide the balls at night to avoid the 4am ting-ting syndrome which kept me awake many times...
Rip a thin layer of fleece from the mass, so that it forms a thin and fairly narrow layer. Wrap it tightly around the ball, turning a bit so the whole thing is covered at least lightly. Whoosh it under hot water, soap at least one hand, and roll the ball in your palms, cupping them a bit. You can use a back-and-forth motion, but small circles will work best. Rotate the ball at frequent small intervals to vary the main pressure points. Keep up harder and harder friction, compressing the ball a bit, till you have a layer of fairly firm felt.
Repeat, one thin layer at a time, building as even a felt layer as possible. Make sure each thin layer is firmly attached to the underside, and fairly compacted, before adding another. You're done when you think there's a firm layer of felt all over the surface of the ball, and nothing's hanging. You can build a thick layer of felt, but more than 1/8" (a couple mm) is unnecessary. Rinse the ball well, squeeze out what water you can or spin in a salad spinner, and put out to dry on a windowsill.
First published: 2 sep 03
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