Friday, December 27, 2013

How to: Make Felted Wool Dryer Balls - A dryer sheet alternative

I am a free-lance writer for my local newspaper and I just completed an assignment on Homemade Laundry Detergent. While I was researching laundry detergent recipes I found these Felted Wool Dryer Balls.

Why use Wool Dryer Balls?
~They absorb the water from your clothes so they dry more quickly. This saves energy and keeps you from over-drying your clothes. Over-drying causes static cling, so you avoid clingy clothes too!
~They soften your laundry by "roughing" up your clothes in a gentle manner. Beating your clothes also discharges the static electricity. Another way to avoid clingy clothes!
~You can put a few drops of essential oils on them to lightly scent your laundry, too.

They sounded so great that I just had to try them! Here's a quick tutorial on how to make them. I'll be sure to update you when I find out how well I like to use them!

What you need:
1 - 8 oz skein of 100% wool (Makes about 3 baseball sized balls.) 
1 - crochet hook
1 - leg of a pair of panty hose
And a washer and dryer.

Don't use superwash or machine washable. They wont felt which is important because if they don't felt, they will come apart in your wash!

I used a pair of trouser socks instead of panty hose, because I don't wear hose. EVER! I also don't like to buy things if I have something else that will work. Hence the trouser sock!

As for the number of balls that you need, I have seen recommendations from 3 to 6, so it's really a matter of preference!

What to do: 

Step 1: Wrap the yarn into balls between the size of a tennis ball and a soft ball.  Keep in mind they will 
shrink a little when you felt them so don't make them too small.

Step: 2: Once you have the ball the right size you will need to tuck the tail in using the crochet hook.

Step 3: Now stick the balls into the stocking leg. Be sure to separate them somehow, either by tying knots in the hose or by wrapping a cotton string around the hose in between the balls. If they are touching they will stick together or fall apart during the felting process. You will have a cute little caterpillar when you are done!

Step 4: The last step is to felt your wool dryer balls. The easiest way to do this is to stick the caterpillar in the washing machine and run a few hot water, heavy soil cycles. Finish with a cold water rinse and a trip to the dryer.

BUT I don't have a washer or dryer. In order to felt, wool needs the hot water and agitation. Knowing that, I am going to try just felting it in my bathtub. I've got pretty hot water out of my tap and I can agitate the caterpillar with a wooden spoon... so old school! I'm going to do this later, so I'll post a picture of this step and updates when I'm done. If all else fails I'll just take the balls over to a friends house when I do my laundry!

 Here's the pot that I felted in. I was felting an alpaca yarn hat at the same time... that was a disaster. See more on my post about that here.

I took the yarn balls out of the stockings once they had started to felt so I  could agitate them a little bit better. It worked out alright, but remember to be careful. The balls have a tendency to fall apart if you agitate too aggressively!

And here is a finished ball. Well semi-finished. I think that I am going to try to felt them a littler further when I do laundry next. All in all, hand felting was a fun adventure and I will be doing more of it for sure!