Sunday, February 7, 2016
Finished objects: Wool felt dryer balls
Quite a while ago -- by which I mean, oh, four or five years by this point -- a friend was moving house and hosted a clothing/household item swap. She was letting go of some wool yarn that she had dyed using natural dyes way back in high school. If memory serves, she had intended to knit a sweater from it but didn't like how the colors turned out.
I was interested in learning to crochet, so I scarfed the yarn up to practice with. And then, after having sat in my friend's stash for many years, it sat in mine for several more. I began to feel sorry for the yarn, waiting for so long to be useful! And so, in line with my recent epiphany that crocheting is probably not in my near future, I decided to do something else with it.
So I made it into wool felt dryer balls. The yarn I had made about 12 balls; I kept three of them for our use and I've been giving away the rest as gifts along with a bottle of essential oil (you can put a few drops on each ball before tossing it into the dryer and it will make your laundry smell nice).
I know that this probably does not seem like a very noble purpose for hand-dyed yarn. I confess that I have one set earmarked for my friend but I have not yet had the -- well, you know -- to give them to her.
But at the time, the imperative to *do something* with the yarn outweighed the qualms I had. The process could not be simpler:
-Wind yarn into softball-sized balls. (Yarn must be wool, and not washable wool -- something that will shrink and felt.)
- Tie off and use crochet hook (aha, I AM using my crochet hooks after all!) to poke end into center of ball.
- Put yarn balls into the legs of an old pair of tights or pantyhose and tie off with twine in between each one.
- Wash in hot water and dry on hot setting 3-4 times to felt the wool.
- Meanwhile, make endless series of immature jokes about "sock full of balls," "woolly balls," "is that a dryer ball in your pantyhose or are you just happy to see me?" etc. (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.)
- And voila! That's it.
The point of dryer balls is that they are supposed to make your laundry dry faster. I do think they work pretty well for that purpose provided that the load is made up of fairly uniform items -- like sheets or towels. With mixed loads like my daughter's or my laundry our dryer always seems to stop when thin fabrics like t-shirts are dry but the thicker things like the waistbands of pants are still damp, and the dryer balls don't solve that problem. Which is unfortunate, as that's exactly why I started looking into dryer accessories in the first place. Oh well. On balance, they're useful -- and that, after all, was the point of the exercise.