Saturday, May 19, 2012

Felted Dryer Balls

 I made dryer balls! Felted dryer balls!
What? You have no idea what those are??
They are little felted balls of wool that you stick in the laundry with your clothes!  Supposed to help dry clothes faster with less static!
I've been wanting to make some for a while now because the dryer sheets I use really aren't good for you. They aren't good for anyone apparently. * A little Internet search for how good (or bad) dryer sheets are for you and your clothes will prove my point - look it up!    They are perfectly benign just sitting in the boxes smelling all wonderful, but once you add them to the dryer and turn on the heat.... look out!  **The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) does not monitor dryer sheets... the chemicals that are IN dryer sheets in big amounts ARE listed on the EPA's waste list... I'm just saying that these chemicals are in my dryer sheets and they are released with heat.  I don't know about your dryer sheets.... really! This is just a little food for thought.
I know, I know... dryer sheets are nice! No static electrical zaps when you flip your sheets over in the middle of the night! No socks stuck to the back of your shirt! They really do work, but... wanting to have less chemicals in my life and make less of an impact on the planet.... I needed to really consider dryer balls!
I'm totally going for  a non-chemical, more natural way to get soft clothes with less static buildup!  Everything that I've read on dryer balls makes me think that they are going to work by separating and fluffing fibres in the clothing fabric.  The soft nodules of the wool should massage the clothing fibers and open them up, which leads to softer clothes and by lifting and separating the clothes in the dryer, they should dry faster!  No more wadded up ball of clothes! Less drying time, more humidity (the wool should trap some moisture!) means less static!  I don't think it will eliminate the static completely, but since dryer sheets release their softening, static eliminating chemicals with the heat of the dryer......and dryer balls don't.... I needed to make some dryer balls!
There is a lot of information out there on the world wide web and it can be overwhelming... so here is what I did & it's a compilation of a bunch of tutorials, notes, etc.  I did try a few of the tutorials I found and then tried combining methods and this is what I found works for me! AND Yes!! Yes they do work! Not 100% sold on the no-static thing yet but I'm willing to keep using these to see how it works - which may have to be this winter because the drying rack I have and all the sunshine we get, eliminates the need to use the dryer right now!
Wool, Roving, Lavender
Step 1 - get some wool! 100% wool! No super wash and nothing really expensive! 
I used some roving I had for the center part of the ball *not necessary but it does mean you can use less yarn! You can use a toe of an old nylon, some acrylic yarn, piece of felt... whatever to make a center core!
The red yarn is 100% wool- suitable for felting. I paid $1 each ball on sale!
Lavender in the center core
Lavender! Not necessary but I really like the smell of lavender so I added it!

Step 3 making the center core bigger

Step 2 - take a bit of roving (or yarn or even an old piece of nylon) and make a little pouch to put some lavender in and then roll it into a tight little ball!
Step 3 - keep adding some roving (or yarn) until you get a center core that fits into your hand. *commercial dryer balls seem to be about the size of a baseball or softball with a center core roughly palm sized. I used more roving because I had it. You could totally use an old nylon piece, a piece of felt anything really!

Step 4- now start winding your 100% wool yarn around and around that center core. Wrap it tight!
Step 4- wrap the yarn around the core
I made mine about this big!

Keep going! Around & around and around! Until you get a ball (or two or three!)
Step 5- Sausage Dryer Balls

Step 5 - put each ball into some old nylon's. *I had to actually go out and buy some cheap knee high stockings! I haven't owned any in years! Cost just over a $1!  I put one ball down at the toe, tied it tight, added the next one and so on until I had a nylon, wool ball sausage thingy!
Step 6- felt those babies! Throw the whole 'sausgage' into the washer with towels, jeans, something heavy(ish) that will move them around a lot. AND something you can wash in hot water! Just a note here... it may take a couple of washes in hot water to get them felted really nicely, but remember each time you use them they will felt a little more too!
Ta-Da!! Felted Dryer Balls - and they smell yummy too!!
You will need to make several - one ball isn't really going to lift & separate your laundry all by itself!
Just throw a couple (I'm going for 3) into your dryer the next time you put clothes in there and let them do their job! It sounds a little loud, but the clothes do seem to dry faster and so far they weren't filled with static! Towels were soft and oh... that lavender I added.... lovely!
The balls should last about 5 years but if they start to fall apart.... I'm just going to make more!