Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wool Dryer Balls

For a very long time now I've been wanting to make my own wool dryer balls.  I did a little bit of reading and it seemed simple enough: wrap wool yarn (a little tighter than you usually would) into a ball and felt it!  Here's what I did: 
 I picked up my basket of wool and got to work.  It doesn't take very long and I had 6 balls of yarn in no time.  I found a pair of hose to use to secure the balls (come on... focus) during the felting process and keep them from unraveling in the wash. Work one ball down to the toe of the hose and tie it off with string or knot it.  Repeat with the remaining balls until they're all secure.
 If you've never felted before, you should know that HOT water is important.  The hot water and agitation is what creates the felted surface in wool items.  This is why your wool garment care instructions are and wash COLD, lay flat to dry.  Here, we want to do the opposite.  Wash it HOT.  Toss them in the wash with some jeans so they have something to play with.  What I mean is that they need something durable in with them to help with agitation.  Don't forget the soap!  A bit of soap helps the process, too.
 After the wash, I tossed everything in the dryer.  More heat.  More agitation.  After the dry cycle was finished, I repeated the wash and dry process again.  I thought of doing it one more time, just to be sure but it really wasn't necessary.  As you can see, my balls are felted!
This is not a tutorial.  I'm in no position to tell you how to do yours.  Honestly, I'm bumbling along and experimenting with my fibers.  If I had done even more research before I had started I would have realized that I probably should have started with a core.  That's to say that I should have started with small amount of wool and felted it, then built upon it to create the final ball.  I think this is for shaping. I'm not sure if there's another functional reason for doing that.  Next time, though, I'm making a core!  I'd love to experiment to see what the difference is (there's the scientist in me coming out...)

Some have asked what the purpose of having wool dryer balls is.  Personally, I don't like spending money on dryer sheets (they're spendy!) Plus, they create a dangerous film on your lint screen (have you ever REALLY looked at that thing?)  Oh, and that film on your lint screen - what are those chemicals and do you want them on your skin?  Dryer balls reduce the amount of time it takes to dry a load by separating your clothing and allowing more air between garments.  They also reduce static.  Since I just made and started using mine, I can't confirm that claim personally but I'm looking forward to reporting that that's true.  Let's give it a few months.

You will want to use between 4-6 balls per load.  Take some time and do some research.  There's a LOT of information out there and most of it is very informative.  They truly are very easy to make.  If you can wind yarn, you CAN do this!  If you simply don't have the time or desire, check Etsy - there are many people who make and sell them just for you!  Either way, stop buying dryer sheets and creating even more waste in landfills.

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