Felted Wool Dryer Balls
By kirstinknits on October 21, 2013
I've read in various places that you shouldn't use dryer sheets or fabric softener on baby clothes. There are concerns that baby might have a skin reaction to various ingredients (which mine might be more inclined to because I have sensitive skin and some skin allergies) and that fabric softener can leave a residue that impairs the flame resistance of baby fabrics. It gets very dry in my apartment/region in the winter, though, so I wasn't sure what to do about static cling. After lots of indecision and time spend putting various products in and out of my grocery cart, I remembered that a friend recently made felted wool dryer balls, which seemed like exactly the solution I was looking for. I've read that dryer balls reduce drying time and help prevent static. Unlike tennis balls or the plastic dryer balls sold in stores, felted wool balls are also supposed to be quieter (plus: pretty!).
I read that each dryer ball should weigh two ounces and that you could need as many as 8 per load of laundry, so I bought five skeins of Paton's Classic Wool Roving (one each in Aran, Natural, Yellow, Plum, and Pacific Teal), which weighs 3.5 ounces per skein. I tightly wound a two-ounce ball from the roving.
So that the roving wouldn't mess up my washing machine, I then put the ball into an old pair of stockings (the stockings won't survive this process).
(you might want to leave more room than this around the ball)
I made one ball with each of my colors and then I wound two or three colors together to use the rest of the roving. I didn't have quite enough for 10 balls, so I layered some feltable wool yarn leftovers over the last little ball (Knit Picks Telemark, which has been discontinued, and Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool). I twisted the stockings to separate each ball.
I then put the whole bundle into my washing machine and washed it on the hottest, highest setting. It was called anti-bacterial, I think. After it was done washing, I put the bundle into the dryer and dried it for the longest time at the hottest setting. It was LOUD. Really, really loud. Like a bunch of tennis balls banging around in the dryer. Since it was also late, my husband ended up turning the machine off and leaving the balls to air dry overnight. So I recommend starting this earlier in the day, if possible, or doing it somewhere with good insulation. In the morning, I started the longest, hottest dryer setting again.
When I got home from work, I removed the balls from the stockings. The stockings were a knotty mess -- definitely no saving them, so I just ripped them open to remove the balls. The stockings felted into the balls in a few spots -- you can't see it and I could probably remove it, but I recommend leaving a bit more room around the balls than I did.
I think the balls look great, though, and the whole process was really quick and easy.
I hope they work this winter!
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