For many months we’ve been using a homemade laundry detergent without fabric softener and we haven’t had static issues, but since winter is officially settling in I knew it was high time to either break out the chemicals or find an alternative. I chose the later and while looking around I learned about Wool Dryer Balls.
I had heard of them before but honestly thought they were only used to help the clothes separate in the dryer to prevent wrinkles and cut down on drying time. I didn’t realize they had another super power. The wool soaks up the moisture from the clothes and keeps the humidity level in the dryer high, helping to decrease static electricity. Awesome right!
Since I had already set aside a few sweater to make wool diaper covers (to be shared at a later date), not to mention a skein of 100% wool leftover from another project, a box full of wool roving, and a drawer full of knee-high hose from my working days, I was more than ready to give this project a go. Here’s how I did it and what I learned.
This is a photo heavy tutorial be sure to click the Read More tab to see everything.
I started off by cutting the sweater into pieces about one inch wide and of varying lengths.
Because this was my first time I made my balls a few different ways, some were just the sweater pieces wound and tucked around each other, others were made out of the yarn or a mixture of both. Just be sure to wrap everything SUPER tight.
After all the balls were made we got out the wool roving and started wrapping it around the balls. It was very hard to get it tightly around. If you haven’t working with roving before the key is to separate the fibers out, you’ll see what happens if you don’t a little further down.
Es’s little hands had a hard time wrapping with the roving and after a hard fight she finally gave up and went outside to play in the snow.
The ball above was actually from a second batch I made later in the night. As you can see I got lazy and took big chunks of the roving and wrapped it around the balls. You’ll see why this is a VERY BAD IDEA. DON’T DO THIS!
Once the balls were wrapped up as tightly as I could get them and about the size of a racquetball I went ahead and put them in the hose, tying each one off. Mind you, they might not be perfectly round but that’s okay. I promise.
I threw the entire hose caterpillar into a hot cycle in the washing machine for about 40 minutes and with my usual amount of detergent. I added the other sweaters I’ve been felting, an extra wash couldn’t hurt and at least then I didn’t feel guilty for having so little of a laundry load.
When I took them out the balls made with the sweater pieces came out fine but they hadn’t felted as well as those with the roving on them. As you can see in the picture above the roving balls were hard to peel out of the hose but still came out intact and very tightly wound.
This is what the balls looked like after one washing. I decided to give these ones another trip through the laundry and made another batch to go with them. The second time around I got a little lazy with the roving step and as mentioned before just wrapped big chunks around balls made with the yarn. Here’s why you don’t want to be lazy.
You can clearly tell the balls that weren’t wrapped properly and I can also tell you they don’t FEEL as tight and hard as the good ones do. So I’ll be adding another wrapping and hoping it fixes them.
Our laundry was already done when I made these so you’ll have to give me a couple weeks to let you know how well they work.
These balls would make a great gift idea paired with a couple of vials of essential oils-add a few drops to impart your favorite scents onto your clothes, and a jar of homemade laundry soap. I love this recipe from How Does She?
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