Several years ago I heard whispers on the wind about felted wool dryer balls. And I thought, “eh, I’ve got loads of wool. I can felt. Let’s do this.” I didn’t read any tutorials or even research why people were using these things. I just made some. It was an excuse to stop buying dryer sheets, which I didn’t want to buy anyway. The first generation was not very dense, but I didn’t know that was a problem, so I just used them. Basically I just wadded a bunch of wool into a ball, put it in a stocking, and washed it. I guess they worked?
Then I found out they were supposed to be very hard and solid so they could bounce around in your dryer. Eventually I made another batch. This time I used yarn as the inside to give it more weight. It was a lot easier to pack the yarn tight rather than the roving. Plus it gave me a chance to do something with all of those odd little bits of yarn I have hanging around the house. I made a small ball of yarn, wrapped it in roving, wrapped more yarn around, more roving, etc. The second generation balls were larger and less squishy. However, the outside got smooshed up when I crammed them into the nylon stocking for felting.
So, for the third batch I decided to do some pre-felting. I started with a tight ball of yarn and then covered it in roving. Using my 6-point needle felter, I tacked down the outside wool. This kept everything in place nicely and they came out so smooth and pretty. I’m sure they’ll end up covered in pills after one or two uses, but they will look deceptively pleasant in the bowl at the farmer’s market.
Balls after an initial needle felting. The inside is a tightly wound ball of yarn with handdyed wool roving around the outside. In some cases I placed all of the roving around the outside, covering it entirely before needle felting. Those ones had a more interesting swirling color pattern. Others I tacked down each piece as I laid them down.
Balls have been placed in a nylon stocking. I purchased knee-highs from the drug store for 50 cents a pair. I was able to get 4 to 5 balls in each stocking.
The balls are finished! These went through two wash cycles. I reshaped them before throwing them into the dryer. They came out slightly damp, so now they are air drying. The best looking ones yet.