Monday, October 15, 2012

Update: Pumpkins and Fall!

It has been a while since I have updated here. Fall is upon us, and winter is only a short distance away. We have had a lot of rainy, gloomy days of bored indoor play, but one beautiful day where we were able to visit a local farm to enjoy their fall displays and pumpkin patch!

They have this beautiful fenced in area where the kids can feed the goats and bunnies. Last year they could hand feed them, but this year they had tubes to put corn into.

Corn maze for children! All paths lead out :) We had some beautiful white mousing kittens following us through the maze!

They provide wagons to take into the pumpkin patch to make it easier to haul back the spoils!

This one looks good!

Exploring the pumpkin fields!

Showing off our choices!

Brotherly love.

I will do a project update and tutorial shortly, but this is what has been keeping us busy the last week!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How To Tutorial: How to Make Wool Dryer Balls From Roving or Yarn

The temperatures are dropping here in Wisconsin, and soon line drying will not be an option. To get ready for winter, I have been making sets of wool dryer balls using some of the roving I have recently dyed. These dryer balls are an inexpensive cost saving tool!

Dryer balls are simple to make and easy to use. Place approximately 8-12 dryer balls into your dryer with wet clothes, and you do not need to add dryer sheets. Wool dryer balls will remove static cling, decrease drying time, and help to promote fluffing of clothes in the dryer. They are ecologically friendly and save large amounts of dryer sheet landfill waste!

Here is a quick tutorial showing how I create my wool dryer balls.

First, the items that you need. You will need wool roving (or 100% wool yarn that is not superwash. Make sure it is feltable!), a nylon stocking, some yarn scraps (non-wool; I use acrylic), and scissors.

For the wool dryer ball core, I use plain natural wool roving. You can use any type of wool that is feltable. Generally I will use a corriedale, new zealand, or punta. You do not need a soft expensive roving for this process. 

For the inner core of the wool dryer ball, wind it quite tightly. This will help the core to condense and solidify when felted. It is similar to winding a ball of yarn.
The core of my wool dryer balls are approximately 1/2 ounce. It is easy to weigh using a digital kitchen scale in order to keep the balls approximately the same size. The picture below is a visual of the 1/2 ounce size wool dryer ball.
Once you have rolled the 1/2 ounce sized wool dryer ball, take the ball and slip it into an old nylon stocking. Make sure it is snug against the bottom and tie off with a non-felting yarn (I use acrylic.) I double knot my tie so there is no chance it will come undone in the washing machine, as this can affect the shape of the finished ball. Place each successive ball in the nylon stocking with a tie between each.
Once you have a stocking of these prepared, put them into your washing machine with towels, soap, and set your cycle to hot. Once they have been through the washing machine cycle, dry them with your towels, still in the nylon stocking. After they have finished drying, cut the ties and remove the dryer balls. They will have shrunk considerably and be a quite solid core.
Once you have the cores removed from the nylon stocking, wrap them with another 1/2 ounce of wool roving. You will have a 1 ounce wool dryer ball when you are finished. After you have wrapped them, place them back in the nylon stocking and tie with a non-felting yarn.
Run them through the hot wash cycle with soap and towels, and the dryer once again. You will now have a beautiful solid ball of roving approximately the size of a softball.

This is the fun part! For this tutorial, I have done plain colored balls, but you can decorate them however you choose! As shown here and here I dyed roving various colors. To color the wool dryer balls, wrap the colored roving around the dryer ball until you have covered all surfaces. I usually take my needle felting pen and quickly do a preliminary felt on the ball, to help it maintain its shape in the washing machine. Here are a few photographs of the pre-felted colored wool dryer balls.

Again, once you have the dyed roving wrapped around your wool dryer ball cores, place them into the nylon stocking and tie as before. They sure are getting big!
After a hot washing machine cycle with soap and towels, and a high dryer cycle, you will be able to remove them from the nylon. If you wish to do any other decorate felting, now would be a great time to add any swirls, dots, stripes, etc.
And now you have beautiful wool dryer balls that will last for ages! If you wish to have scented wool dryer balls, simply place a few drops of the essential oil of your choice onto the wool ball. It will last for some time, and you can easily scent the wool dryer balls again. The wool dryer balls will continue to shrink and condense as you use them.

If you love the sound of these all natural wool dryer balls, but do not have the time or materials to produce them, I do offer them for sale on my website here.
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