May 12, 2014

DYER BALLS? REALLY?

Our family has always been looking for ways to eliminate chemicals from our lives. This goes back at least three generations. We now have more access to more chemicals than ever before. It is important to find places that you can get away from unneeded chemicals and look for reasonable alternatives. Our family was recently introduced to Norwex. They market a wool dryer ball that they suggest using instead of the perfumed dryer sheets. This really intrigued me. I did a little research and decided that I wanted to give dryer balls a try, so I got crafty making something similar to the Norwex product.

Gather your supplies.

I used a wool sweater that had accidentally been felted, and wool yarn that was left over from a different project. The yarn needs to be at least 80 percent wool, but 100 percent is best.
Cutting strips.

I started by cutting the sweater into thin strips. They were about 1/2 inch wide.
Making a ball.

When I had a few strips cut I wound them into a ball. I made the ball as tight as I could hold it. Then I sewed through the ball to hold it in place while I wound the yarn around it.
Winding the yarn.

After the ball was formed and stitched I wound the wool yarn around it. Use a good quantity of yarn. Make sure none of the sweater shows through. You are going to felt the wool yarn onto the wool ball that you have just made.  I made my dryer balls roughly the size of a tennis ball. When you have finished wrapping the yarn around the ball tuck the ends of the yarn inside the ball. You want to secure the ends well.
Ready for the felting.

Place your dry ball down into a leg of pantyhose or a knee high stocking. This will hold your yarn in place for the felting process. Throw that lumpy looking thing into the washing machine with a load of heavy clothes that you want to use hot water on. You can wash them separately but that is a little wasteful. Keep cycling the dryer balls through each load of laundry until they are adequately felted. It may take 3-5 cycles to get a good felting. You will know they are felted when you can sort of scrape your finger nail across the yarn without it separating easily. Agitation and heat are the combination that creates felting in wool items. Agitation is the greatest contributor.

After months of use.

I made three dryer balls, and you can see they are not exactly the same size. I have been using mine for months and I am happy with their usefulness. I add essential oils to the dryer balls to impart a light fragrance to my clothing. It is nicely subtle. During the winter months there is some static on some loads. I can deal with that if I know I am eliminating chemicals. You can see that the yarn has started to pill a little. This does not affect their usefulness and doesn't bother me. I think you should get crafty and make some dryer balls. It is a quick and effective way to eliminate some chemicals from your lives.