Here we go – the promised Dryer Ball Tutorial! After inquiring in the newsletter if there would be interest in a tutorial, the response was a resounding YES. I have made dozens of these now for our local natural foods store. So, I feel I have a good process worked out, and I’m ready to share it with all of you.
You will need:
A quick note about the wool: I love Corriedale wool, and used NZ Corriedale Roving for all the dryer balls I have made. Although this roving is available in a very wide range of dyed colors, I prefer the undyed ecru. It is economical, and I don’t have to worry about possible dye transfer from the wool. I’m just being super careful, since I am selling these dryer balls to customers.
After some experimenting, I settled on 45 grams of wool for a nice, pleasing size of dryer ball. They end up being about 2.5″ across.
Here’s the Process
So, I start by weighing out 45 grams of roving. I wind it in a loose ball to weigh it more easily, but I re-wrap it before felting.
To wrap the ball for felting, I start with a very snug core for the first few wraps, then relax a bit while still keeping the wraps neat and tidy. You want to keep the roving “flat” – I avoid twisting the roving because that causes thicker areas. Also, I take care to change directions while I wind, so the ball builds out consistently all the way around. For example, if I wind vertically a few times, turning the ball to lay the wraps side by side, I then hold the roving in place with my thumb and angle it horizontally, and wrap a few times on the horizontal axis of the ball. The ball ends up about 3.5″ across after I wrap it all up.
Now I needle felt over the surface of the ball, tacking down the end of the roving first, and then working over the whole surface of the ball. Don’t felt deeply – the needles never go into the wool more than an inch, and usually much less. I am not trying to needle felt it until firm, just enough to keep the surface intact for the next step. This needle felting step only takes about 5 minutes.
Just Add Water
I usually make a large batch of balls, about a dozen at a time. Once I have a bunch made up to this point, I then dampen them at the kitchen sink, and place them in a pan or bucket to take to the dryer. A note about the water: do not soak the dryer balls! The wool will repel the water at first, but I pat the surface of the ball while the water runs over it, and then squeeze out the excess, so it is not soggy. Too much water seems to make the balls turn out egg-shaped.
Then I throw the dryer balls into the dryer, and run them on High for an hour. This step sounds exactly how you would imagine a dryer full of tumbling of balls would sound. I do this step during the day, when nobody needs to sleep or nap.
When the dryer balls are done to my liking, they are about 2.5″ across. Sometimes one cycle gets them there, but other times, I have to dampen the balls a second time and run them through another cycle.
There You Have It
Now the dryer balls are ready to use! Add three or four to your load of clothes while drying. It helps fluff the clothes, and if you have an energy efficient dryer that senses the moisture in the clothes, it can cut your drying time. We have a friend who swears by them for drying comforters and blankets more quickly, and a customer tells me they speed up the drying time for jeans.
While I have not tried it personally, I have had folks tell me they add essential oils to the balls, so they also add a fresh scent while drying and they can skip the dryer sheets. I imagine they dilute the essential oil with water and spritz it on the balls. I have not wanted to put essential oils in my dryer (I just washed these clothes to get them free of oils…), so I can’t speak from experience to this.
Was this dryer ball tutorial helpful to you? Have you used dryer balls before? What do you love about dryer balls? I’d love to have your feedback – please leave a comment below!