Saturday, May 28, 2011

Easy to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Old dryer balls
I got these plastic dryer balls years ago in an effort to be more green and stop buying dryer sheets. I've really liked them, they fluff up the laundry and reduce static without chemicals. One down side to them is they are really loud in the dryer.

I recently discovered wool felted dryer balls. I think these are such a great idea! Eco friendly and relatively inexpensive. (And quieter!) I found a great blog post at goodmama on how to make these. These are great detailed instructions with pictures.

With what I felt was good enough knowledge in hand, I went to Michael's and purchased some wool yarn. I already have two huge bins full of yarn but not wool yarn, so of course I had to go BUY more materials. :) Thank goodness Michael's was having a sale and some of their off colors were discounted to $2.99. I bought 6 skeins of Paton Classic Wool medium gauge, 3.5 oz. 

I wound the yard into a ball, measured and put in a panty hoses leg per the instructions. Instead of putting them in the wash I put them in a bowl with scalding hot water and swished them around. I'm not sure this was the best idea, obviously the agitation in the wash would have been better for felting the fibers together but I have an HE washer and I felt there wasn't a lot of swishing going on anyway. After the water was cool enough for me to stick my hands in it, still hot though, I squeezed the yarn balls and massaged them a little to help the fibers mesh.

After that I put them in the dryer. I let them set out for a day before I added more yarn, they weren't quite dry and I hate to use the dryer to just dry dryer balls.

I wrapped more yarn around and repeated the process.

Here are my finished dryer balls. I like them. They look like the ones in the pictures on the blog post and like others I found on the internet.

New pretty wool dryer balls

I will say though, I don't like the fact that they still look like yarn. Why go to all the trouble of "felting" if its still just going to look like a ball of yarn?

Also, even though each skein was the same weight, the multi colored one didn't go as far. I had to use a different color for the inside of the ball so the outside was the multi color. This of course was only discovered after I had wound one ball almost all the way and realized I wasn't going to have enough.

The solid red color was better, I used 1 full skein and maybe 1/4 of the second skein. I still have probably 3 full skeins left and could make another 4 balls.

A friend told me about another technique for felting and I'm going to try some other things with the other yarn, I'll post again when I get those done.

All in all, if you consider the yarn was only $2.99 a skein, I basically got two dryer balls for less than $6, not a bad deal. My old plastic ones cost me $9.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

If you are curious why someone would even use dryer balls. Here are two things I found on the internet.

How are Dryer Sheets Manufactured?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Yummy Treats on Mother's Day

These great chocolate covered strawberries are from my sister in law, she runs Baby Cakes in Georgetown. They were so yummy!

My wonderful nieces explained how some had swirls and some wew decorated with smiley faces. The moms got smiley face ones. Either way, they were delicious!

Just the right touch for a special day.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mothers: Happy Mother's Day! (Cards using the Cricut Design Studio Software)

I decided to try the Cricut Design Studio software again and make a few Mother's Day cards. I researched the software a few months ago, bought a cord, watched a few videos, tried to use it and gave up. I encountered a few problems. I have a netbook, not a full computer so buying the cd was not an option as I don't have a cd player. I also wasn't too keen on purchasing the software without trying it out first. I saw lots of videos showing how you could download the trial version and just use the fonts on your computer but I couldn't make that work. The trial version does work with the cartridge that came with the Cricut but I must have been having a bad mental day because I tried it and couldn't make it work.

Earlier this week though I decided to give it another go. I had a choice, buy Mother's Day cards or make them. I opted to make cards since I have an entire room dedicated to crafts...I have a lot of craft stuff including an entire section dedicated to stamps, paper and other card making things - I'm like a mini Michael's Store.

My goal was to learn how to "weld" the letters together to make a continuous title. After a few messed up cuts I finally got it right! Wow, they looked great! Perfectly connected words ready to be added to cards or scrapbooking pages.

After cutting out "Mother's Day", I cut tiny flowers out of printed paper and backgrounds for the flowers out of complimentary solid colored paper. 

Cricut cutting the flower backgrounds, beginnings of a card!

Here is the completed card. The letters and flowers are from the George and Basic Shapes that came with my Cricut machine. I added a matching printed backing and a pink ribbon in the corner. Each flower also has a colored brad as the center.

For myy second card I created a repeat pattern of "Happy" for the outside of the card and added glitter to each word. This could be used for any occasion, I might actually make up a few of these just as extra cards. For this one I added an all in one "Happy Mother's Day" to the inside of the card. I also added a flower background to the cut so it was all in one.



Here is what the design studio software and Cricut set up for the front of the card.

My last card I used the same design of the inside of the last card and added more flowers. I used several different paper patterens for the flowers. The background for the flowers is part of the title and everything was done in grey. I used brads again in vintage metal tones for the insides of the flowers. A textured pink ribbon adds the final touch.

Happy Mother's Day!