Monday, January 14, 2013

Fuzzy Little Balls

*Before I start, my husband came up with the title to this one, it was much more clever than anything I could come up with.*
So a little known fact about me is that in high school, I was a member of the FFA (they used to be known as the Future Farmers of America, but now it s just FFA). While in the FFA I was on several judging teams, we went to other schools and competed against other students in different areas. 
The judging categories were everything from identifying bugs (Entomology), to identifying wildlife (which we call Wildlife, unique right haha, this was one of my categories), Meats, Crops, Livestock, Floral Design, I could go on and on, but then there was Wool . I ended up being the number one spot on my Wool team my senior year. While many people might find that super nerdy, I loved judging Wool. I love sheep, I think they are the coolest little critters. I hope to one day be able to learn to sheer sheep (A.K.A.  a sheep haircut), it can't be that different from people right? Right!? Maybe I will have an advantage since I have been cutting people hair for a while now?
 Anyway, this all leads up to today's Pinstrosity which had me down memory lane in the first place. 
Nicole decided to make DIY Dryer Balls out of wool yarn and a sweater, let's check it out:

The Original

Does anyone else see an ice cream cone here?!Maybe I am just hungry. 

Nicole decided for Christmas to make these as stocking stuffers for family. She said they wanted a dryer sheet alternative that is chemical free and a little more earth friendly. This was the perfect solution. Take an old wool sweater, a skein of pure wool yarn, and go to town. 
The original blogger used wool roving as opposed to yarn. The only difference is yarn is spun, and roving is not. Roving is a long( narrow) bundle of fiber. 
The original blogger then suggests that you put the balls into an old pair of pantyhose before putting them into the washer to felt, she feels strongly about this step because she reiterates it again.
The original blogger says... "In fact, this is not an optional step. Without this, you’ll just end up with a matted bunch of goop at the bottom of your washing machine."

 If you have done everything correctly your balls will look like the picture above. If you haven't they will look something like the picture below.

The Pinstrosity

Does anyone remember DIY Pastel Jean Pains?? That is what this makes me think of. 
Poor Nicole.

She got so excited about felting her balls (go ahead, giggle, I have been giggling this whole post I just can't help it!), that she forgot the vital non-optional step of putting all the balls into a pair of pantyhose.

(From the original blog)

She  then spent 20 minutes cutting them off of the towels she washed them with, and her original 15 dryer balls, only ended up being 8.

She attributes this Pinstrosity to trying to DIY from memory. When in doubt, write it down. 
We all know what DIY from memory can cause, as we saw in The Wise Owl Says... Just Go Buy A Cake
If you haven't read that one either, there is another good laugh. 

Has anyone had any luck with this project? Do you have any helper tips for Nicole, or any of us less experienced felters?! We love hearing your feedback!

Have a great Monday Pinstrosipeeps!


  1. We have a sheep farm & my sweet husband shears. I do lots of things with the wool from spinning to felting. And I sell lots of product. BUT I am not interested in doing those dryer balls ;-) Looking at your supplies in the picture, I would suggest you bunch up the shredded sweater thingy as the core but get it as tight as you can & then carefully (read "take a ton of time") tightly & evenly wrap it with your yarn just as you would wrap a very nice ball of string. It has to be good wool yarn so that it will felt well. Then take the ball & soak it in lukewarm soapy water, put another squirt of soap in your hands & begin to massage it in a good ball shape before you even put it in the magical panty hose. Of course, I personally would have finished the outer layer with lots of good feltable wool roving. Then a good hot wash & dry. Or look some up on etsy - I can't spend time making dryer balls when I have a farm to tend to & yarn to spin..... ;-)

  2. I found the same thing but on a different blog and have done this, but with 100% wool yarn. And it turned out fine. But you must put them into a pantyhose when you wash/dry them the first time otherwise you will be left with the mess seen above.

    Also, if you would like your laundry to smell nice, you can add a few drops of essential oils to the balls (after they have been felted of course) before you throw them in with your laundry.

  3. There is one additional difference that I can think of (that I believe might be the cause). Roving is almost never treated to be washable, yarn often is. You will not get felt if your yarn (or garment) is machine-washable. It will have been treated specifically to avoid felting.

    These can be done by hand in hot water. Alternatively, if you want to do them in a machine without pantyhose, you can just stop the machine every few minutes to make them into balls again. It's not good for the machine though, as it will get a lot of fibres which can clog it. would be an illustration of this.

    I'm trying to not get too technical and knitter-ly, hopefully I managed both to do that, and to give enough information.

    1. I just want to clarify that there's actually a large percentage of commercially available superwash roving/top/batts/fiber, so folks should not assume that if they see something that's unspun that it's automatically going to be feltable.

    2. My apologies - the local spinners are either deprived, or else have very odd taste, most of what I see here isn't treated, thank you for clarifying that.

  4. My previous post had the wrong link, but I can't find the original story, just a bunch of references to it like at the beginning of that post.

  5. I made these! used wool roving and the pantyhose method, they turned out great.
    I used them for about 3 months before my dog discovered them in the laundry room, he was obsessed with them, and one by one they disappeared. One I found shredded in the backyard... the others? Who knows. sigh.

  6. Just a thought: I once had an old sweater that lived past the point of decency. I was going to felt it and use it to make pot-holders. When I washed it, though, it wouldn't felt. Some commercially-made wool sweaters are treated so that they don't (or at least less likely to) felt when washed. It may not be "user error" here, it might be the sweater.

  7. I love my DIY dryer balls! They are very simple and pretty easy to make, BUT you must not forget the pantyhose step. :-)

  8. We had to replace our dryer drum a month ago. my kids wanted to keep the old one to roll down the drive way (of course). So my oldest son unscrewed the plastic fin things from the inside metal drum part. And inside were about a dozen gumball-sized gray felt balls! (Made of dryer lint I guess.) They are super-cute and the kids made me a necklace with them for Christmas! So there's one low-effort way to get them. :0)

  9. I made these, except without the old sweater. Just a couple of skeins of the good wool yarn and some patience. I did the pantyhose step twice to get them good and tight. (Make a ball, do pantyhose thing, add more yarn, pantyhose again.) Now I use these all the time!


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