Ok, so let’s talk about making a core ball out of Hamanaka Aclaine. Not familiar with it? It’s an amazing synthetic felting fibre from Japan that I have reviewed here.
Ok, so I know what you’re thinking. “Whoa Nellie!” you’re saying. “Why are you going through all the trouble of creating a tutorial that only shows people how to make a core ball using one, very specific fibre, when you already have a tutorial showing people how to make a ball using any sort of core wool tops?”
“Because,” I reply, flexing my fingers, “one of the biggest benefits of using Hamanaka Aclaine is that you don’t have to use a separate core wool – you can dive right in using the colour of your choice, but it won’t felt small like other carded fibres do. Aclaine felts slightly differently to standard tops too, so if you haven’t used it before you might want some extra guidance on technique.
“Also, my name’s not Nellie.”
For a moment you consider making me your goddess. The skies light up with heavenly light. Cherubim and Seraphim weep with joy. I extend a hand radiating with pure goodness and beckon you towards me. “You must go,” I whisper, “to Sweet Pea Dolls and try this majestic fibre for yourself, and you will know that it is good.”
Something like that.
Anyway, Aclaine Felts a little differently to traditional wool tops, so you might want to have a bit of help in learning the best way to make basic shapes is what I’m saying. And this tutorial will show you how to make a ball.
A note on needles – start with a 36 triangle or star and switch between this and a 38 as you progress.
Take a section of Aclaine approximately 25 centimetres long and start rolling it tightly from the end.
Roll the fibres to the end, keeping them as tight together as possible.
Hamanaka Aclaine naturally clings to itself if you roll it tightly, so it is possible to let it go and it won’t unravel (as seen in the picture below) but it will loosen, so it’s best to keep hold of it until it’s been felted into place.
Fold the roll in half (Aclaine is naturally springy so this is easy to do) and felt together.
Seriously, felt this bad boy together! Go at it from every angle – you want to be able to let go and for it to not move.
Turning the now-flattened fibre package on its side, felt down along the thin edge so that the square becomes thicker and less flat.
It’s going to look a mess at this point, if I’m honest.
A slightly tricky bit. At this stage you should still have a square shape, albeit with one side (the side you felted into in the previous step) that is wider and wedgier. Ok, stay with me.
If you hold your square so that the bottom edge is the thick one, take hold of the top right corner and felt this towards the centre of the square. You need to felt this down tightly and firmly.
Now take the bottom right corner and do the same. Again, felt this down tightly.
Now do the next corner (you may find it easier to start to turn the shape around on your mat so that you can felt from all sides).
And yes, you got it – now bring in that final corner and do the same.
Holding together the four corners that have been roughly felted into the centre, turn the ball onto its side so that you can really work on rounding the shape of the lower 2/3s of the ball. Realistically it’s probably already quite rounded, but you need to now make sure that it completely rounded.
You will find at this stage that most of your ball is in great shape… but the top of it is looking saggy and loose <insert innuendo here>
Pinch the loose end of the ball together and hold it so that it’s almost upside-down. Felt the underside…
…then start felting the sides, all around the ball, until you reach the area you are holding closed. Very carefully (and I recommend finger guards here) start felting the loose area into itself.
Once the loose parts have been felted together, felt this area down into the ball until it is tight and secure.
Felt all over the ball to tighten the fibres and firm everything up. Make sure you turn the ball onto each side so that you felt it evenly. Once you are happy with the shape, switch to a 38 or 40 needle to continue solidifying the ball without damaging the shape.
Hint – you can roll the ball in your hands to assist with achieving a spherical shape.
Once you’ve finished the ball you should gently use a 38 or 40 needle (of any sort) to tidy up any lumps, bumps, creases and holes, but you are unlikely to need to smooth the surface down as one of the (many) benefits of Aclaine is that it doesn’t ‘fuzz up’ as much as other fibres.
Which is nice.
Psst – have you bought some Hamanaka Aclaine but don’t know what to do with it? Are you looking for some guidance or inspiration? If you answered yes to either of these questions then check out my free Aclaine tutorial. Hope you like it!