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9.26.2012

Felted Dryer Balls out of A Wool Skirt

I roll with the "hip" Vermont-y crowd. We cloth diaper, we pickle, we can, we use felted dryer balls bought locally with our amber teething necklaces on Etsy. Ok, maybe a little tongue in cheek there. I feel like I'm trying to live this green homesteading lifestyle and somehow I'm at the forefront of random trends. Wool dryer balls being one of them. There are dozens of tutorials out there. I wouldn't be a good green blogger if I didn't post my own (plus I'm cheap and this cost me $1).



First question, "Why balls?". (Balls :) ) Well, calling them wool dryer spheres just wouldn't return as many hilarious google results. Seriously though, they fluff your laundry and there are no chemicals involved and no dryer sheets to buy. The wool balls toss around with your laundry, the balls get moist (the teenage  can me is giggling), and create this lovely humid happy drying environment for your clothes. It also cuts down on drying time. I'm a sucker for scent so I put a little lavender oil on mine so that my laundry smells pretty.

You will need:
A wool skirt from a thrift store
Wool Yarn
Scissors
The leg off a pair of pantyhose or a knee high
A washer and dryer

Now the different tutorials out there involve everything from unraveling old sweaters to wool batting to yarn. I am a fan of the yarn method. I got some beautiful hand-dyed Vermont wool yarn in a food swap this past winter and I was happy to put it to work. By far though my favorite dryer balls are made from wool fabric. You can pick up some hideous wool knee length skirt monstrosity from Goodwill for less than $4. Mine was $1. Just make sure it's 100% wool (mine was virgin wool- good to know my wool is virtuous). The skirt I bought yielded enough fabric to make 10 dryer balls.

Snazzy knee length wool skirt. It had a few tiny holes which is probably how I scored it for $1.

It's a Pendleton, great brand!

I cut a laptop (open) sized rectangle from the front panel of the skirt.

Not the greatest picture but basically if you continuously cut around the rectangle you end up with wool fabric thread.

Wind the "thread" around your fingers to start the ball and just keep winding trying to keep the wool as smooth and flat as possible.

You'll end up with a rolled ball the size of a small fist/large lemon. I tucked the end of the wool "thread" under some of the other layers gently using the end of my scissors.

I then wrapped one of the balls in a pattern with this beautiful wool yarn. I made another ball in the same method using just yarn (this takes MUCH longer than using wool fabric), and I left one plain. I like the three similar but different set.

My three of a kind pre-wash.

You want to take a knee-high or cut the leg off a pair of pantyhose and tie the balls of in them.

It is very important to put your hand all the way down the pantyhose with the ball, otherwise it will rub against the side of the pantyhose and unravel.

  
Three of them tied off in the pantyhose.


 At this point you need to run them through the washer and dryer. Run the washer on hot. I didn't want to waste the load so I washed them with about 10 other wool sweaters that I'm planning on felting and using for a blanket/quilt. Then dry them on high. Repeat this step at least twice.

Bingo! You're done. Arent't they pretty? I'm a fan of the plain gray wool skirt one. There's something very industrial and useful about it's look.

They shrink up a tiny bit and end up a little smaller than a fist. I like this size best because they move around in the dryer without being so loud that the dog barks whenever I do laundry!
Happy Felting! Enjoy :)

3 comments:

  1. I tried these with an old wool skirt I got from Goodwill. The hardest part is cutting the entire skirt into "yarn" strips (that and finding them after the cat decided they were his play toys). Thanks so much! I really enjoy your blog - next I'm going to try making the homemade body wash recipe. (I'm a Vermont wannabe).
    -Deb

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  3. lovely PRACTICAL idea..I know dryer sheets are loaded with wax and 'smells' and really are a modern waste of money. I had no idea they helped in drying! Does the YARN ever snag on zippers or buttons when drying? that is the only downside I see... I'd prolly make felt flowers and tack those on for cuteness..great idea.."homestead on"..I taught off grid and dirt cheap house building for many years and everyone LOVEs getting away from buying crap like dryer sheets... THANKS.

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