Tashcrafts: Felting Neko Balls

Introducing Tashcrafts! This won't be a regular thing, but since every so often I'll go a week without posting a new original recipe (such as this week's Victoria sponge), I thought I'd show you a little of some of the other things I enjoy doing: the newest of which being felting.

I first discovered neko balls ('neko' being Japanese for 'cat') when I saw them being sold by Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, for whom I sometimes do a bit of online writing work for. I instantly fell in love with them, and bought this chappie here:

Isn't he just the cutest? I named him 小猫 Xiǎomāo (Chinese Mandarin for 'little cat').

At the time I had no idea how they were made, until I came across some beginner's felting kits being sold in the Japan Centre in Central London. Thus, my love of needle felting adorable neko balls began.

I was with a couple of friends at the time when I found the kit, and they both agreed that they'd love to have one, if only they'd have the patience to make them. Me being me, I took this as the perfect excuse to buy a kit to make two neko balls (please excuse the quality of photos, I was only using my phone camera at the time because I was only planning on showing my progress to my friends).

The kit came with two special felting needles, a load of wool roving and merino wool to make the bodies, thread for the mouths and whiskers, and safety button pegs for the eyes. I used the foam block I use for sugarcraft as a felting mat.

As you can see, you roll up the rough wool into a ball, and poke it a few times with the needle to secure it (the needle is barbed, which knits the fibres together as the needle passes through the layers of fabric).

I didn't realise these ones would turn out bigger than my keychain neko, but I was happy that they did make quite substantial-sized nekos. The instructions were all in Japanese (which I can often read out loud but seldom understand), so I had to refer to plenty of Youtube tutorials at first.

It's a thin layer of merino wool that smooths out the structures: you can see that the wool roving ball in the picture above this one is kind of rough- but it's needed to create the initial structure.

Neko ears = instant cute. <3

My two creations (Siu-Siu far left, Yoshi far right) found their way to their new owners and homes yesterday. Now my 小猫 Xiǎomāo looks a bit lonely on my computer desk- but since I've been bitten by the felting bug and have just bought a load more wool, he won't be for long.


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