machine knitting midgauge standard bulky machknit knit machine-knit patterns

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mar’s Spherical Dryer Helpers Revisited

    I have seen quite a few patterns for hand knitted dryer balls and didn’t find myself attracted to any of them---mostly because they are knit on double pointed needles. They start with just a few stitches and increase every other or every row to get to the middle of the ball. That’s one thing the knitting machine doesn’t do easily.  We can knit in the round with the ribber, but sharp, even increases to get a round ball would be difficult, if not impossible. Decreases yes, increases so fast, no.

When one of the gals in my guild did a program on felted knits, she showed some dryer balls she had made.  She wound a ball of wool yarn and then needle felted some roving on to it.  She felted them in the washing machine inside a nylon stocking.  I tried that and had to spend days pulling off little pieces of nylon and lost most of the roving.  I evidently missed a trick somewhere.  (Ball on the left.)  Then I tried just rolling a wool ball and hand sewing down in 7 million places so it wouldn’t unravel.  (Ball in the middle.)  It works but doesn’t look so elegant and you can see the individual threads.  Then I came up with the ball and jacket idea.  (Ball on the right.)  It fills the bill, as far as I’m concerned .

 So, why make these things anyway ????   Some reasons:   The balls bounce around in your dryer and pound the clothes taking out wrinkles and static.  (No more expensive dryer sheets.)  They also reduce the drying time significantly.  I usually use 4 at a time.  The only downside I can think of is that they are noisy. 

Here’s my recipe.  A ball and a jacket.  Done from middle to end, twice, because decreasing every couple of rows is easy.

Standard ( Midgauge, bulky)

100% Wool yarn that works with your machine.  No superwash.

1.     Wrap a ball of wool yarn to the size you want. Color shouldn’t matter.   Mine are about 4 inches in diameter.  Set aside.

2.    Cast on over 46 (40, 34) needles with waste yarn.  Knit 6 rows. Loosest possible tension throughout.

3.    Knit with main yarn 10 (8, 6) rows. (Don’t do a permanent cast on, just knit)

4.    Remove on waste yarn and rehang main yarn doubling up stitches across leaving no empty needles, knit 2 rows.  Repeat this step until you have 6-8 stitches left.  (or use your garter bar if you have one.)

5.    Take stitches off on a 10” yarn tail with your double eyed transfer tool.  Don’t cinch up yet.

6.    Turn around the knitting and pick up the main yarn stitches at the center of the ball, all the way across with purl side facing you.  Remove waste yarn now or later.  Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5.

7.    Slip your ball into your unfinished jacket to see if it’s the right size.  Add a little, remove a little until the ball sits snugly into its jacket.  Because the "jacket" will shrink, it's better to leave a tad of shrinking room.  Now you can cinch up the ends and use one of the yarn tails to seam the ball shut.  Hide the yarn tail from the other end into the ball after you cinch up that end.

8.     Throw into the wash a time or two until the stitches are obliterated and any dye that wants to run has run its course.  (Your yarn may not run at all.)  Then into the dryer for many happy tumbles.

I made mine on the LK 150 midgauge with Mary Lou’s Schuss Plus.  The white didn’t felt as nicely as the colored yarn.  The colored yarn did not run in the wash or the dryer. I admit I had to try a few different combinations of stitches and rows to get a nice round jacket for the ball. (Forget the math!  I wouldn’t know where to start.) So, if you’re using a standard or a bulky, you may have to do a little experimenting too.  

 I’m guessing at the correct number of stitches and rows to get a nice ball for the other two machines.  These go so fast once you get the right ratio---they would make nice little stocking stuffers for the people in your life who do the laundry. 

  OH, and by the way.  Don’t be tempted to use acrylic for the ball.  The gizmo just won’t work very well.

*********************************************************** Curious and curiouser----- once again, Blogger wouldn't save my post unless I omitted the word "balls" in the title.  




Slisen said...

Thanks for the instructions. I'm trying to beat the odds by making the cover first, then the ball to fit the cover. Sounds like a plan to me, ha.

Mar said...

Whatever works. The jacket is "forgiving" by molding itself around your inner ball when it felts. Will want to see a picture!

Knittedbrows said...

Must make some of these. Practical and fun, thanks for the instructions.

Mar said...

You are welcome! Nice to have a mindless little project now and then that actually has some use!