I needed to wash a down jacket that said it should be put in the dryer with a clean tennis ball. Having no tennis balls (clean or dirty) other than the ones hanging from the ceiling of my garage as markers of where to park, I decided on plan B.
Wool dryer balls.
Supposedly they not only help soften the clothes and reduce static, but they also reduce the necessary drying time by absorbing some of the moisture.
There were two free patterns on Ravelry, both for making a knitted cover to go over a separate core of yarn, but neither one gave a lot of information about them (like finished size), and each had only one project (one with no photos). Both used worsted weight wool – one on US 7 needles, and one on US 10. I decided, of course, to make one of each.
After making them, I discovered a tutorial for just felting a ball of wool yarn to use as a dryer ball (no knitted cover). So of course, I made one of those, too.
I ended up with a small, medium and large, ranging from 2.5″ to 3″ in diameter. Papa ball, mama ball, and baby ball. ;-D
The biggest one is probably bigger than necessary (yes, I hear you laughing), unless being used to fluff down jackets or pillows, but it worked great for fluffing my down jacket. I’m sure that if I’d made the core a little smaller, the jacket would have felted down more, so the pattern is probably fine for anything from 2.5″ to 3″ cores. The smallest one stretched pretty thinly around the core as it felted, so it’s probably best for a core that is a little less than 2.5″.
The one that is just a ball of wool, without a cover, is perfectly fine – a cover isn’t really needed unless you prefer the look. I guess it would be good for using various scraps of yarn, but making matching covers so they all looked the same. The cover would also reduce any chance of one of the strands of yarn from getting snagged and coming loose.
Large Gray Dryer Ball (with jacket): Dryer Ball pattern by Ashley King
Small Gray Dryer Ball (with jacket): Dryer Balls pattern by Meredith McFarland
Gold Dryer Ball (just a ball of yarn): Wool Dryer Balls tutorial by Jillee
For best absorbency, you should probably use 100% wool for the core. But both of the patterns for the knitted jackets call for using all or part acrylic for the core. I think if you want to use acrylic, it would be best to use it as only part of the core, as indicated in Ashley King’s pattern. For example, use acrylic to make the core about half the desired size, then use wool to get to the size you want.
After making these, I think that when I make more, I’ll try to have the finished size be between 2.5 and 2.75 inches (about 8 to 9 inches in circumference). About 2 ounces of worsted-weight wool wrapped tightly into a ball was just about right. If I make jackets, I’ll probably either make the larger one and let it shrink to fit, or make the smaller one but add 2 rows to the center between the increases and decreases so it will be just a bit bigger (or cast on 8 to start, instead of 6).