We are always looking for new ideas to welcome each season and celebrate in ways that our whole family can participate. This is truly one of those projects. Everyone, both young and old, can share in the fun of creating these felted acorn necklaces. My oldest daughter and I collaborated on these one brisk autumn day after coming home from a nature walk with our treasure bags filled with acorn caps. We usually bring acorns home and place some on our nature table while the rest go in jars until we can think of a use for them.
Wool Acorn Necklaces
Large bowl or basin
Natural dish detergent (we like to use Seventh Generation)
Wool fleece in colors of your choice
Glue gun (or another form of glue)
Drill with 1/16” drill bit
Needle felting needles (optional)
*A note about wool*
There is a wide variety of wool out there, and it can be a bit daunting at first glance. For wet felting, the finer the wool the better. I have found that Merino wool works the best for us, it is a soft wool and the hair is thin enough that it takes little effort to felt (which is very helpful for kids). You can use Merino for needle felting as well or something coarser like Corriedale or Romney. If you can, I would suggest trying out a variety of wool to see which one you personally like the best. You can find wool roving at your local fiber shop, yarn shop or on-line.
Start out by preparing your bowl/basin for felting. Fill it with warm to hot (but not scolding!) water. The hotter the water the better for felting, but if little hands are helping make it more on the warm side. We like to keep a tea kettle filled with warm water nearby to refresh the water when it starts to cool down. Add a few drops of dish detergent to the water and then stir with your hands to mix it in.
Now grab a small amount of the wool fleece around 2 ½” wide x 5” and 1” thick or so. The measurements do not need to be exact as the process if very forgiving. When you are grabbing your fleece remember that it will shrink considerably as it felts, so it may seem like you have too large of a ball at first, but the end result will be much smaller. Gently roll the fleece into a ball. Hold the wool ball in one hand over the bowl and use your other hand to sprinkle the warm soapy water on it, just a little bit at a time, carefully patting the water in so as not to dislodge the wool. You do not want to pour or submerge your ball into the water until it has started felting. Once the wool is wet and beginning to cling to itself, you can start to lightly rub the wool in the palm of your hands, rolling the ball back and forth in the same manner you would do cookie dough, really working the fibers together. Since imitation is important for children, make sure they are watching as you do this so they can take in the motion. You should feel the ball getting firmer and the wool will begin to look matted.
After doing this for a couple of minutes, you will see that the wool has begun to felt. You can now rub it more vigorously in your hands, Do this for about 10 minutes. You will need to continuously sprinkle more hot water on it or even submerge it in the bowl. Don’t forget to refresh the water if it has cooled down.
When it is a nice round ball shape and feels hard, test it out with some of the acorn caps you have collected. If it seems like it is too small for them you may need to add some more layers of wool. To do this, just wrap more wool fleece around the ball and start back at the beginning of the felting process with sprinkling the water on and following through with the instructions. You can do this, too if you want to add more colors to your ball.
Once the ball is the size you desire, rinse it in cold water, pat it dry with a towel and let it sit in a windowsill to dry. This will take about a day. You don’t want to continue on to the next step until it is fully dry or you run the risk your felted acorn becoming moldy.
This next step should be done only with an older child under adult supervision or done by the adult. Using your drill fitted with a 1/16 (or a similar small size) drill bit, drill a hole on either side of the stem at the top of the acorn. Don’t put them too far out or the drill will crack the acorn cap. Your acorn cap should look almost like a face when you are done: 2 holes as the eyes and the stem as it’s nose.
Now, cut a piece of your hemp string long enough to fit over your or your child’s head with an extra inch or two to tie it. Thread this string through the holes on the acorn cap by going in downward from the top of the acorn cap and then coming back up through the acorn cap on the other side. Pull it through all the way so that the string ends are even. Tie the string ends in a square knot and set aside.
Plug in your glue gun. When the glue is heated up add a few dabs inside the acorn cap, making sure that the knot at the end of the string is centered. Now firmly push your felted ball into the cap. You want to make sure it is glued nice and tight so hold it in place, squeezing firmly, for a few seconds.
Your necklace is done! If you wish, you or your child could further embellish the necklace by needle felting a simple picture on to the acorn body. My oldest daughter chose to add hearts when we made necklaces for her classmates in school.
There are many different things you and your child could create with your felted acorns. You could skip over the steps for drilling holes in the cap and just glue it on. It looks beautiful on an autumn nature table, or you could even use it as a tiny pin cushion on your sewing table. The possibilities are endless.