I was going to title this post “Wool Balls.” But then I couldn’t get the image of actual ram balls out of my mind. My mother was pretty entertained when I asked if I could come over and take a picture of Angus’s balls. She got a little (ok.. more than a little) suspicious of why exactly I’d want to take a picture of her ram’s balls?
Well, I recently became aware of the value of making dryer ball out of wool myself and I wanted to have a picture of an actual wool ball. See?
Needless to say, I didn’t have the time to make the 32 mile round trip, just for a picture of Angus’s balls, so here is a token, front-end picture of Angus (left) and his buddy, Domino.
The whole idea of making wool dryer balls is to stop using those horrid, chemical laden dryer sheets to get rid of static cling and make your laundry smell great. They bounce around in the dryer and help fluff your clothes so they dry faster too. I’ve also read that if you attach a safety pin to a wool ball, or put a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer, it will help dissipate the static electricity in the clothing. I’ll have to report back on that after I test it. So lets get started.
You’ll need some wool yarn. Make sure its 100% wool. We want it to felt and shrink and mash together in the washer. An acrylic yarn like Red Heart won’t work because its machine washable. Besides that, its synthetic and icky. You can buy wool yarn at places like Michaels, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby or better yet, use up scraps. I’ve been making felted wool slippers for years and so I have a box of scraps. What an awesome way to use them up!
Start by winding the yarn around a couple of fingers a few times, then slip it off and starting making a ball.
Just keep winding until they are about softball size. They’ll shrink during the felting process, so if you’re in doubt, make them a little bigger. Tuck a crochet hook, or a blunt needle into the strands. Grab the loose end, pull it through and tie.
Now to the washing machine. A couple of instructions I’ve read suggested putting the wool balls into the leg of a pair of old panty hose. But really? Who the heck still wears panty hose. Just the thought, brought back images of those Leggs eggs that the panty hose or “nylons” came in. Remember those? And that fact that my mother used to cut the legs off the old ones and store onions in them. Another fine recycling idea. Now I’m regretting mindlessly tossing that pair of ballet tights with the run in the back of the leg that my daughter grew out of.
I tried putting my three wool balls into a zippered pillow case, but the first time through the hot cycle on the wash, they started to come apart. Clearly, the point of the panty hose is also to keep the yarn ball from unraveling in the least little bit until the strands are felted together. So I cut off the messed up part that came off the edge of the yarn ball and hunted through some cupboards in the utility room. Shazam! I found a plastic mesh sack that used to hold oranges!
I cut it half, put one of the balls in and tied it shut.
Then I put the other two into the other half of the sack, and tied it tight on both ends. OK, I set my washing machine on the lowest water setting, which is extra small. The water temperature on Hot for the longest time. Listen for the washing machine to get done with agitating part and draining. You don’t need to rinse. Go check the wool balls and see if they look felted. If not.. reset the washer back to the beginning of the hot cycle. And be sure to listen for when the agitation and draining stops. You can tell when they are felted enough by just scraping your fingernail across the side of the ball and seeing if the strands are mushed together or if they separate. They will felt together more securely as you use them and you can always run them through the wash with your towels or jeans too.
Done! I’m going to add a few drops of lavender essential oil and a safety pin to my wool dryer balls. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled at garage sales for partial skeins of 100% wool. With some essential oil and creative packaging, these would make great gifts!