Today's post comes to us thanks to The Goodmama. There are ways to make dryer balls from recycled wool as well, but this is an easy, fun way to make them from wool yarn.
Why use wool dryer balls? Dryer balls of any kind help to lift and separate items in the dryer, theoretically reducing drying time and softening the clothes in place of fabric softener. Wool dryer balls also minimize static cling and offer a eco-friendly version to the conventional PVC plastic dryer balls that are widely available.
Let's Make Wool Dryer Balls!
Finished Size: Any size you want, really! Commercial dryer balls are approximately 9 inches in circumference. I like to make my wool dryer balls about 10-10.5 inches in circumference prior to felting, since they will shrink a bit as they felt.
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* Wool Yarn: This is a great time to use your scraps. For the best results, use a yarn that is 100% wool or otherwise is a good felting yarn. Do not use superwash wool. If it says it is machine washable, you don't want it for this project! There are a lot of good, cheap, felting wool yarns available at local stores.
The amount of yarn required depends on the weight and gauge of the yarn you choose. Bulky yarns will wind faster and take less yarn. For the worsted weight yarns pictured here, it was approximately 3 ounces.
* Old Pantyhose or a Sock
* Cotton or Acrylic Yarn or String: You can use scraps here, too. This will be used to tie the hose or sock. You don't want this to felt, so don't use the wool yarn here.
* A Small Crochet Hook
* A Measuring Tape
If you have ever wound yarn into a ball, this is basically just like that, except you want to wind it tighter than you should normally. There are *many* different ways to make felted wool balls. This is just one way. Feel free to experiment! You could also use wool roving and needles for felting to make the whole ball or just the core.
Step 1: Winding the Core
We'll begin by making the core of the ball. Making a core first will make the finished ball a little more firm. It is also possible to simply skip this step, but the ball will be a bit more squishy during the felting and might not have as nice a shape when you're finished.
Begin by winding a bit of yarn around your fingers.
Once you have a bit, take it off your fingers, let it close and wrap the yarn around it. This is the beginning of your ball.
Continue wrapping the yarn around and forming a little ball. There is no right or wrong way to do this step, as this will be completely covered up later on.
This picture shows a small beginning ball, a ball ready for the first felting and a ball that is ready for the last felting. This should give you an idea of approximate sizes.
Once you have a small ball, break(or cut) the yarn and tuck the end under using the crochet hook. This will keep it from coming loose as it's felting.
Step 2: Felting the Core
You can try to felt the balls by hand, but this isn't necessary and takes a while. I prefer to use the washer and dryer.
Put your small wool balls into the pantyhose or sock. I like to use the cheap knee-high pantyhose. After you put a ball into the hose, tie the hose closed with a piece of string or non-wool yarn with a secure knot. This will keep the balls separated during felting. DO NOT skip the hose/sock and just toss them into the washer. Trust me, they are very likely to fall apart and you will end up with a felted rat's nest. Toss the wool ball pantyhose caterpillar into your washer with a load of laundry. I like to wash them on hot to felt them faster, but you can wash them with any type of load. They will take longer to felt if washed in a cold load. If you use a hand-dyed or not colorfast yarn, be careful for bleeding. Just put them in the washer and dryer with the load of laundry. Once the dryer cycle is done, cut the strings between the hose and remove them. They should be slightly felted. If you want them felted more, run them through another load.
Step 3: Winding the Dryer Ball
Begin winding more wool yarn onto the ball. You don't have to do anything special to attach the yarn, just lay it onto the ball and wind over it. Continue winding until the ball is the size you want. Tuck the end under using the crochet hook.
Step 4: Final Felting
Once you have your dryer balls the size you would like, put them into the pantyhose and tie them. Repeat the felting by once again doing your laundry and tossing these in. They don't have to be completely felted before you can start using them, just slightly felted will do. You just don't want them to come apart. They will continue to felt and get harder as you use them.
That's it! You now have wool dryer balls! Depending on the wool yarn you use, they may get pills on them with use. If these bother you, just give them a shave with a sweater shaver now and then.
If you would like scented dryer balls, you can sew a little sachet filled with your favorite dried flowers or scents then begin winding your ball around it. Remember that the scent won't last forever, though, and there is no way to re-scent it once the scent is gone.
Make your Own Wool Dryer Balls by goodmama, inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License