wool

How to make felted dryer balls

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Whilst casually scrolling through Pinterest and various zero waste websites I came across a number of references to tumble dryer balls. For the uninitiated these are balls (no surprise there) that you put in your tumble dryer in order to speed up the drying process.

Mr Amazon of course sells packs of these in various shapes and sizes - most of them plastic - which didn’t really appeal to me. Then I came across a reference to tumble dryer balls made of wool and of course my keen knitterly senses perked up at this.

A bit of Googling later and some kitchen experimentation I found myself with quite a bowlful of these cute felted balls. The jury is still out on the whether they categorically reduce drying time but my goodness they are such fun to make - and of course a fabulous way to use up an scraps of 100% wool you happen to have about your person.

I’m sure there are a variety of techniques available for doing this but when I shared photos on Instagram so many people asked about them I thought i would share it here:

HOW TO MAKE FELTED TUMBLE DRYER BALLS

  1. You must use 100% wool for this

  2. Also be aware that strong or deep dye colours in your wool run the risk of colour transfer to your laundry so choose accordingly.

  3. Start of with a small core of tightly wound sock yarn (any yarn will do for this) - about 5g in weight, or if you have any spare roving/yarn ends scrunch these into a small walnut sized ball.

  4. Take your 100% wool and start to hand-wind to form a round ball. Rotate it carefully to ensure an even round shape.

  5. The balls in the photo use approximately 20-25g wool

  6. Once wound, break the yarn and tuck the end in firmly

  7. Once you have amassed 4 or 5, stuff them into the cut off leg from an old pair of tights. Put one down in the toe, then tie a knot. Then add the next ball and tie a knot. Continue until all of the balls are encased - with a knot between each one to stop them felting together.

  8. Throw the balls in with your laundry for a few cycles of washing and drying

  9. Then remove them from the tights and hey presto - cute, fuzzy yarn balls.

On Wool - and other thoughts

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Last week I announced that I was going to run a small knit-along - the #winterwoolkal - aimed at carrying on, in some small way, the fabulous Wovember love from previous years. You can read the original blog post here.

I had planned to do a slightly bigger event but my enforced wi-fi break the week before during our family holiday meant that it was all a bit rushed. Still, I was very pleased with the enthusiastic response. Lots of knitters gleefully rootled through their stash or took the opportunity to buy a skein from a new-to-them producer or dyer.

So far so good. It was a bit of a surprise then to be greeted with, what a friend laughingly termed a ‘wool backlash’. I received a steady stream of emails, PMs and messages suggesting that my focus on 100% wool (the original Wovember principles) was somehow elitist and risked alienating a large number of knitters.

Quite apart from the hysterical thought of a bunch of grown adults being scared off by 50g of Blue Faced Leicester DK, my grandma (who always knit with with wool) would have been tickled pink to be called elitist.

Seriously! How can the choice of wool over other fibres be controversial. It has been such a staple of textile production for 100s of years. I think many of the comments stem from the misconception that wool is somehow expensive and that certainly seemed to be a recurring theme in my emails. This is an excellent article by Louise of KnitBritish which most excellently debunks that myth.

I have always maintained that there is a valid place for acrylic yarn. But that place is not in a KAL aimed at promoting wool and the British wool industry. Including acrylic and other fibres in the KAL would detract from the whole message in the same way that calling a £1 ball of acrylic yarn from Aldi “wool”, detracts from the value of wool as a living, breathing, essential resource for knitters.

In addition, just because a group of people have chosen to apply the term “wool” to anything you can knit with (as opposed to calling it yarn) it doesn’t mean you can use it in a wool KAL. If it didn’t come from a sheep then it isn’t wool.

Wool has so many wondrous qualities, which others have expressed far more eloquently than I can - just browse the Wovember back catalogue of articles for inspiration. Acrylic yarn and other fibres obviously have their place but can never replace wool in my opinion

Nothing beats the the feel, the squish and the smell of real wool. No one - to my knowledge - has ever ripped open a bag of petroleum based yarn product and gleefully inhaled the aroma within. And for that reason, I am and will remain a wool enthusiast to my very core.

Winter Wool KAL

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As we all know, sadly Wovember isn't happening in its original form this year but I'd love to keep the Woolly Love going and do something to celebrate 100% wool this November.

So I thought I'd host a #winterwoolkal running for the month of November.

Just pick something 100% wool from your stash and grab your needles. I'm honouring the original intention of #wovember with this one and being strict on the 100% sheep's wool. As beautiful as alpaca, mohair etc is - this is all about the Wool.

You can either join in over on the Everyday Knitter Facebook group, or jump in on Instagram with your woolly project. Look for the #winterwoolkal #wovember and #britishwool hashtags. That will help you to find other folks are who participating.

We cast on, on 1 Nov and will cast off on 30 Nov.

I'm offering a 25% discount off all of my self published patterns and I know that some other indie designers are doing the same. So grab a yarn - 100% wool - pick a pattern and let’s share the woolly love this November.