zero waste

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.

Zero waste socks

Yarn is a self stripe from Third Vault Yarns - Ides of March

Yarn is a self stripe from Third Vault Yarns - Ides of March

As knitters we tend to be a fairly thrifty bunch anyway, and I know that I am certainly loath to part with any scraps after I’ve finished a project.

But, as I was knitting on these socks it dawned on me that these will be my first pair of official “Zero Waste” socks.

The 100g skein gave a lovely pair of toe-up socks for me (64sts on 2.25mm needles) with a fish lips kiss heel and left 40g remaining. My eldest son liked them so much that he also wanted a pair - and although he now has feet that are as long as mine they are also a lot narrower (think canoe’s and you’re on the right track).

So I divided the remaining yarn into 2 x 20g balls and paired it with a toning brown (of long forgotten provenance) from my stash for toes, heels and cuffs. His socks are 56sts on 2.25mm needles and so I got about 5 inches up the leg before the self-stripe ran out.

I just did a Clasped weft join to the brown yarn and carried on to add another inch and then the cuff. So by the time I have finished his second sock there’s won’t be a single scrap of the self-stripe left, which I have to say is all very pleasing,

As I am determinedly ploughing on with my mahoosive (three strands held together) Garter Ripple Squish, the idea of not adding anything further to my dwindling yarn scrap supply is really quite attractive.

I’m not sure if this will be a “thing” for future socks too but it’s certainly been a fun project.