machine knitting midgauge standard bulky machknit knit machine-knit patterns

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dryer balls

First, let me say that this is certainly not my original idea.  Lots of my friends make, use and love them.  What are they, you ask?  They are balls made out of wool, felted and used in the clothes dryer.  They beat up your clothes a bit so you don't have to use chemical fabric softeners.  And, for people who don't do well with the perfume in fabric softeners, they are a great substitute.  Claims have been made that they reduce the drying time, thereby saving energy and money. They also take care of static.  They probably last for years.  Any color wool will do.

One of the machine knitting guilds in Minnesota makes them and sells two at a time in a nice mesh bag to earn money to buy yarn for charity projects.  Nifty idea.

How to make:  you will find slightly different versions on the internet.  Here's how I did mine.  I used 100%  wool throughout.  First I wound a ball by hand, about 3-4 inches in diameter.  They shrink quite a bit when felted.  I  tacked down the yarn around the ball so that it wouldn't come unraveled in the wash.  The bottom ball shows how I hand sewed/tacked down the yarn.  (Not a very good picture, but you get the idea.)   I then wrapped the ball with wool roving, poking it into the ball with a needle felting needle in a few places.  Lots of people put the ball in an old nylon stocking and tie the ends for felting.  I tried that, and the roving grabbed onto the nylon as tight as can be. The roving and the nylon became one! It took a week, a little at a time pulling, coaxing, ripping the nylon off, inch by inch.  Lots of the roving came along with the nylon.  No fun!

So for the next ones, I was trying to come up with a solution to this issue.  I had purchased a bag of apples and they came in a nylon-ish, slippery, holey, woven bag.  Voila!  I used that, one dryer ball to the bag with lots of room around it and tied the ends before throwing into the washing machine for felting.  Worked like a charm.  No sticking.  So, that little hint will save you hours of frustration.  

You might want to felt your balls a few times so that they are sort of heavy, tight and dense.  (In case you were wondering, I don't think acrylic centers would work at all, nor would super wash wool.)  The ball pictured at the top will go through a few more washings before I use it regularly in the dryer.  Use them, 2 or more at a time,  with each load and see if they don't work well for you.  Maybe do your laundry when you don't need peace and quiet in the house because there will be some banging around in the dryer.

Why did I call them "spheroids"?  I can hardly believe this, but Blogger wouldn't upload the picture of the  "dryer balls" but would upload the  same picture re-named "dryer spheroids".   Hmmmm.......