Stella, May I know how you dry your laundry faster?

10:00 AM Stella May 0 Comments

With the start of the new year and the very first Tutorial Tuesdays, why not start with a new way of laundering? One of my favorite feelings is crawling into freshly washed sheets. That would explain why I change out my sheets at least once a week. The problem with washing my sheets is that I have to dry them in a fairly old dryer. The dryer at our place is so old that prior to my new little discovery, I would have to dry sheets for at least two cycles. With each cycle lasting about an hour, washing the sheets was a three plus hour affair. So what are these balls and how are they going to help me speed up the laundry process? 

These are yarn balls! And besides being cat toys, they help dry laundry faster and fluffier! So really, these are dryer balls as Oswald has no interest in them. When these balls are thrown into the dryer, they help tumble the clothes/sheets/towels and also absorb some the the wetness. The ones above are not finished, as they still need to be felted. That way they won't unravel in the dryer. Save yourself from that tangled mess! 
Start with skins of wool. I've got some Patons wool from Michael's in both the roving (blue label) and worsted (red label). The roving wool looks fluffier and the worsted almost looks like it is woven. I think the worsted type ends with a smaller ball. Either type will work as dryer balls.
 The key thing is to make sure it is 100% wool and not a blend. You aren't wearing this, so don't be attracted to the other softer yarns at the store. Likewise if you have an old, itchy sweater, you can also use that. The wool needed for this project doesn't have to be new wool. As if you need excuse to unravel a sweater..
 Find the start and get comfy. This would be a great activity to do while binge watching.
 Wrap between two or three fingers. (Two fingers with a gap or three fingers without the gap.)
After 15 or so wraps, switch to wrapping the middle of your little packet.
Wrap tightly until it becomes a solid, non-squishy middle. I stopped at the size of an M&M Peanut. When you fluff out the sides and you get a cute bow!
After fluffing the sides, squish tightly and just start wrapping the rest of the yarn around.
At this stage I wouldn't worry about it being pretty or neat. That's why you see me wrapping over the same section several (5-8 times) before I switch. The important thing is to keep it tight. This is the core of the ball and you want it to be solid core.
After a few minutes of wrapping it won't seem like you get very far, but just keep going and slowly it'll grow. (Special appearance by Popcorn, he also had no interest in yarn or the finished yarn balls.)
When I get to a gumball size shape, I switch to a two wraparounds before switching positions.
If your fingers get sore or you just need a break, make a little well at the end of the wool-yarn-skin-thing. (I'm not much of a knitter,but maybe one day. My limited knowledge of knitting comes from the knitting episode of Gilmore Girls. Counting down the days until it comes back!)
Plop it inside! Safe and secure.
At the one-half to two-thirds mark (judging by the amount of yarn you have left), I start wrapping it more prettily. Mind you, you won't see as much detail once you felt it, but I would like to think it still makes a difference. (I've switched to this grey striped one so the detail can be shown better.) 
So you finally finished wrapping! Now how to finish it..
With a paper clip!
First go secure the unfinished ball inside another yarn skin or tuck it in between some pillows. You will need both your hands for this part. (That is unless you planned ahead, cookie for you!)
Using a straightened out paper clip, make a little hook. (It's as if you are making your own crochet needle, or if you have a thinner crochet needle use that.)
Hook the end piece to the makeshift pokey-finishing-tool.
Stick the other side to through the ball and pull!
Voila!
Almost, but not quite. Learn from my mistakes. Make a smaller hook (fold in at about half an inch) and poke through a smaller section. It should be no more than two inches from the start of your poke to where it peeks out. You do not need to go through the center of the ball. Remember you made it super tight and solid, so it'll be pretty difficult to get through. If it still does not feel secure, make another poke through. We are going to be felting the ball, so it doesn't need to be super tight, just as long as it doesn't unravel on it's own. Basically:

  • Fold a paper clip half an inch 
  • Hook the yarn 
  • Poke into the ball at an angle (aim for a point about two inches from the starting point, and not directly into the the core of the ball)
  • Pull the paper clip through the ball (try twisting and turning if the hook gets caught in the ball)
  • Yarn should be secured and should not unravel 

 Felting the ball: Stick the balls into some nylons.
 One ball for each nylon.
 Twist and tie.
 I make a basic slip knot. (Make it easier to untie later.)
Then fold over the rest of the nylon over the ball. The ball would be covered twice with the nylon. (If you have smaller nylons, you can skip this step. It doesn't need to be covered twice. Actually it made the felting process longer, so don't felt it twice. I thought it would keep the balls inside better, but there's no need to worry about that.)
Ta-da! All you need to do now it toss them into a load of towels or any hot water load of laundry. Wash them in the washing machine and dry them in the dryer (or any high heat cycle). I didn't have a hot water cycle so I just went through ten or so loads of warm laundry (drying in between each time in the dryer) and that seemed to have eventually felted them. If you machines tend to tangle your clothes/towels, cut off the remaining tails left of the nylons.

To check if your balls are felted run your nail across the yarn strands. If the strands stay down, your dryer balls are done! If you can pick out a specific strand, do another cycle and another until the strands stay down. 

*Check back for the post on how to create designs, like that narwhal!
 (Oswald's new toys, not really. He lost interest after a few minutes. )

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