I will admit that I've been a bit skeptical as I've seen these wool dryer balls around everywhere in recent years. Maybe it has something to do with my love/hate relationship with my dryer - I both love and hate how convenient it is (versus the laundry line which I truly love, but let's be real, with the amount of laundry that we do, is a challenge to use 100% of the time). I've been threatening that when this dryer of ours finally dies (as it's been threatening to do for two years!), we won't be replacing it. (Though when the time comes, and it's February and I don't want to hang clothes each morning on the line, and my living room is full of drying racks by the woodstove, then we'll see how serious I am about that threat.) On top of that, there is the whole concept of fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which I've never thought we needed and it's been since my childhood that I used them. So something to replace what I never used to begin with, in a machine that I have such mixed feelings about? Well...those dryer balls never made their way into my grocery cart or onto my work table.
But, there is the matter of all this roving! Oh so much roving in my life - and in my studio - getting in the way of actually spinning it! (I've got to figure out a better storage solution for it all.) As I was looking for fun and relatively quick projects to create with roving (with the holiday gift giving on my mind), these balls once again popped up over and over. I finally gave them a shot, making just a few, and having used them now for the past few weeks. And well, I am eating my own words because I kind of really love them. I swear they shorten the drying time enough for me to notice, and everything comes out feeling just a bit softer than it otherwise would. And when I add a few drops of essential oil to the balls, I love the smell of my laundry! And all those yummy smelling wooly balls popping out of the dryer each time I open it? A fun treat, I say.
To make them, we simply made balls of roving, put them in a pair of pantyhose, tied a knot, and placed another (as you can see above). I washed these on hot with a regular towel load for two wash cycles, and then popped them in the dryer with the loads as well. They shrunk and became quite solid, and once cut free from the pantyhose, ready to use. The kids and I are thinking that packaged in a fun way, and with a whole lot of great needle felting designs on the balls, and perhaps some essential oil samplers, these might make a great gift for giving. It's definitely something that even the littlest hands can be involved with from start to finish and that makes it a winner, for sure.
And with this, I do believe the holiday making - and elving - has begun!