Wool Dryer Balls To Reduce Waste
I am always trying to make the cautious effort to produce less waste because I believe we were called to look after the earth given to us. I am definitely not perfect (sinner saved by grace) but I think it's reasonable to make lifestyle changes in small steps and use the crafting skills I have. And one of those is felting! I learned to felt in college when I was enrolled in a textile program. I may not do much with fabric now, but I have learned a TON of practical skills from that program which I am forever grateful for. I totally recommend learning about different craft mediums as it gives you practical skills and knowledge if you are seeking ways to reduce waste. Why wool dryer balls? They last years longer than the single use dryer sheets you're buying! They're natural, very simple to make and saving money is always good feeling. Here are process photos of how I made mine:
Roving First you need wool roving. I had a bunch of felting supplies and roving bundles that I saved from college so I was already prepared. The left over bundles I have are from Artgus Studios located in Quebec and Michaels, or you can get natural roving from Etsy, or Romni Wools in Toronto.
Wrapping To tear a piece of wool from the roving, it's important to keep in mind to gently pull apart and not try to rip. The fibers in the roving are intertwined together so pulling with force will not help you. When I first worked with roving I had a lot of trouble mastering this, which I kinda laugh at now. So don't be me! I started to wrap it around my finger to create some structure. Once I had that, I took light parts of the roving to spread and wrap around the ball until I felt it was completely covered.
Next I wrapped the balls tightly in a scrap piece of sheer nylon that I had. You can use actual stockings as well or cheesecloth. I like using nylon because I can stretch it and really make sure it's snug inside. I wouldn't use a good quality pair of stockings for this project though!
It was nice knowing that the scrap fabric I saved came in handy and I wasn't just a fabric hoarder...
Needle/ Dry Felting To add extra firming, I decided to needle felt the balls inside the stocking. Needles for felting have tiny little ridges that help the fibers become more intertwined and therefore creating a firmer surface. I wouldn't advise over doing this step while it's wrapped in fabric though because you can actually really attach the fabric to the felt. I got my felting needles from Michaels. Another place to purchase good felting equipment is Romni Wools on Queen St. W, Toronto.
Tip: If you're considering exploring more felting techniques, purchase a brush to use under the felt while needle felting so no surface gets damaged in the process. Those needles are terrifyingly sharp and dangerous! You can also use a thick foam piece, but I prefer those less than the brush. I find that sometimes when a needle breaks in the foam, it's lost forever inside. I have definitely stabbed myself while squeezing felting foam only to realize there were broken needles hidden inside, ouch.
Wash & Dry Once the balls were ready, I threw them in the wash to let it do most of the felting work. You want to wash the balls in hot water to really felt them. I didn't want to waste the water for the little three balls so I also just threw in a few other things with it. Take note that the balls WILL get smaller in the felting process. Think of your wool shirt that got shrunk in the dryer. It's the same material. When you take the balls out, you will need to tear apart the nylon little by little because the felt will have attached itself to the nylon in the felting process. To repair the fly-aways, I took a single needle to needle/dry felt them back down. I also ran them under hot water and rolled them around in circular motions.
I added a few drops of lavender essential oil to give them a fresh scent.