Saturday, August 25, 2012

Felted Balls

 I've been told that if you toss felted balls in the dryer with your clothes, you don't need fabric softener sheets.  I always wanted to try it.  There are lots of vendors on Etsy who sell them, but I have a ton of felting fiber that I've bought or been given.  Girl Far From Home was doing some needle felting the other day and got it all out so I figured I'd give it a go.

This is alpaca fleece.  I'm not entirely sure where this particular bag came from - I had several bags from Idaho, but I sent those back to Dena and we took them to the mill the last time I was out there.  I would have sent her this one too if I'd known I had it - it's not as nice as hers and it has seconds in it, but the mill would have taken it.

First step in the process was to get the alpaca wet - when I did, I realized it had a fair amount of dirt in it.  It wasn't vegetable matter as much as just dirt because alpaca love to roll in the dirt.  So, into some soapy water it went - I used dish detergent, but you can use any detergent.

Then I grabbed the clean fibers and formed them into a ball about the size I wanted, maybe just a tad larger.  I wrapped bits around the ball until I got it the size I liked.

 Then the ball goes into the toe of a knee high hosiery sock.  I tried to keep it as round as I could and to tighten the sock around the ball.  It doesn't have to be perfect for dryer balls.

Then I tightened the sock and tied a knot as close to it as I could.

Since I had a long length of sock left, I did more balls exactly as I had the first.

Then the whole strand of balls goes in the washing machine with some towels or jeans or even tennis balls to help agitate it.  I ran it through a hot wash with a cold rinse.

 Because this alpaca had lots of long hairs (and a few guard hairs) in it, some ends poked through the sock and this is what it looked like when it came out.

 Cut off the knots. 

 Peel back the sock as best you can.  Where a lot of fiber has come through, this is difficult.  For dryer balls you don't really care if there is sock material left on the ball, but if it bothers you, you can cut it off with scissors.

 This is what they looked like when I was done removing the sock material.  Since I went ahead and cut the extra material off, they weren't as smooth as I wanted them.  So I dumped them back in the wash with the next load of clothes I had ready to wash.

This is what they looked like after going through the washing machine twice.  Now they are ready to be dryer balls.  I'll let you know if they work!



Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

I"ve wound balls of 100% wool for dryer balls, but I've never tried felted balls with roving... great idea!

I've been using mine for two or three years. I think they work, but I've never been one to use dryer sheets or fabric softener, so I'm not sure if they make a difference or not!

Caseymini said...

I am anxious to see how they turn out and how they work. I have a big bag of alpaca fleece that I was wondering what to do with. Thanks Teresa!