Making It From Scratch: Wool Dryer Balls II

I really, really, really want to make wool dryer balls – have you noticed that yet? I have heard from people that they would “totally buy them from me” if I could only figure them out. Motivation! There is a demand; I MUST fill the need.

Problem #1: I do not have roving.
Roving is wool in a pre-yarn state of existence. It occurs after raw wool has been gently cleaned and brushed. From what I can tell, the fibers all go in one direction and are magically joined into a beautiful rope-like structure which can then be spun into yarn. Discovery #1: there are also many other pre-yarn states like rolag which is usually what is made when hand carding. However, all the dryer ball instructions start with roving or worse – an old wool sweater.

Problem #2: I do not have carding brushes.
Carding brushes are the instruments used to straighten out the wool and make it soft, fluffy, and I assume, formable into roving or rolag. From what I have seen of them, they are 8″x4″ and come in a set of 2. I have seen them for sale, but have not yet had the funds to purchase them. Discovery #2: Roving is not made from hand carding brushes, it is made with a carding drum. Sigh.

And yet, I am determined to overcome these hurdles and make my own dryer balls by forming my wool into something closely resembling roving. It may be an imperfect union. But where there is a demand; I MUST fill the need. Here is what I did.

I pulled out a tuft of wool. By tuft I mean a clump loosely the size of a salt shaker. I carefully pulled out tiny yarn sized bits, then split those in half, letting the ends cling together so that I had a double length of wool that was soft and filmy. I added these bits to a flat line which I built up to be about 24 inches long by 2 inches wide and maybe 1/4″ thick with all wool generally pointed horizontally. I staggered the wooly bits so that they would overlap. Then I carefully rolled it like pigs in a blanket (or should I say lambs in a blanket) and ended with something slightly resembling roving – yippee. I carefully wrapped these roving-like pieces around a wad of wool. I built up my wool balls this way until they were almost the size of softballs. I was uncertain if this would work so I did not make them actually as big as softballs and as I progressed they were closer in size to baseballs. These were then stuffed into old nylons, and separated from each other by rubber bands.

With two rows of lumpy caterpillar looking things complete; I added them to the dirty laundry bags. I was desperate to give this a try, but our washing machine was on the fritz, which meant a trip to the laundry mat. Running to the laundry mat is always a complicated endeavor. First it must be timed just right in the day because of school and work scheduling as well as other errands to be paired with this trip into town. It also requires ransacking the entire house top to bottom for all possible dirty laundry. Then all the laundry is sorted by color (we do 3 batches, Black/Red colors, Blue/Green colors, and whites) and stuffed into feed bags. Farmers life note: feed bags make great laundry bags, trash bags, and sometimes snow sleds.

Once ready to wash, I put them in hot loads with the colors (no bleach please). Then dried them. Pulling them from the dryer and peeling back the stockings was so exciting. They now appear to be dryer balls, but the light color ones did not felt (the way wool compacts and hold tight as it is washed and agitated in hot water) as much as they should have. The dark brown ones firmed up nicely, but they are not even baseball sized, so clearly I must do more, and I wonder if I were to wash the light color ones again if they would firm up more. Maybe if I wash them enough, they would firm up completely and I could just keep adding layers until they reach the proper size like a big ol gobstopper of wooly goodness?

Whatever they are, I think they are so pretty. I brought one to work to keep on my desk and have been dropping cedar wood essential oil on it. It is a lovely thing to pick up randomly and toss in the air and that smell, so peaceful.

I feel I am one step closer to fulfilling my dream of being the go to gal for dryer balls. For where there is a demand; I MUST fill the need.

Check back to see the thrilling conclusion in part III – or is it?

 

Making It From Scratch: Wool Dryer Balls

It is 9:02 pm and I am staring at a blank website page. At the top of my screen there are no less than 20 tabs open and I just picked up my phone for one last search.

I am a link-clicker. I am an idea-sleuth.

There seems to be a gap in the knowledge pool (or my search engine is holding out on me). There are no truly from scratch ways to make dryer balls. Very important stuff – right?! All tutorials start with roving. I do not have roving. I have baa-baa black sheep 10 bags full of lovely lanolin-smelling raw wool.

I find myself in this situation more than I like. Yes you can find everything on the internet. Unfortunately the general public’s step one is not where I find myself: drowning in the passion of a new project with no idea how to reach the shore of completion.

When searching for something “from scratch”, I do not want to see the first ingredient is in a can, package, or otherwise made by someone else and do not get me started on bread flour or pastry flour.

My first idea was to stuff a bunch of wool in two socks, tie it in each, and send it through the washing machine. Once washed I just left the wool in the socks and let them merrily tumble through a month of dryer loads.

Until now, when I really want to have many dryer balls to share with friends. So I took off the sock (I am still uncertain where the second one is – perhaps it has joined the merry millions on the lost sock island).

Look it worked (almost), if you are unmotivated want to make your own dryer balls – just stuff a large handful of wool in a sock, then wash and dry it.

If, however, you are looking for a way to impress your friends with your wool-bally prowess, you will want to read my follow-up post! Which will be the result of at least 40 more internet tabs as I attempt to discover the secret first step.

Eve’s Oils

Less than 1 week to plan the perfect party, while fighting a household full of colds, and canning all the tomatoes? Sure? While I am at it maybe dryer balls would be fun to make from the raw wool still in bags in my attic cupboard and maybe I can research all the home made oily-gift recipes and limit myself to only 10 I really want to make. I should try to make some of my favorite recipes but substitute oils for other ingredients. How about a Soda Stream recipe for Mountain Dew using oils to flavor? Maybe?

My lovely friend Callysa has been singing the praises of Young Living Oils for months. I went to a few Make and Take parties she was at and enjoyed the roller bottles and sprays I brought home. But the decision had to wait. There were no funds.

Finally, I was able to submit an invoice for a freelance graphic design job and plan that when the check arrived I would order my premium starter kit.

We opened the box as a family; slowly over the next few days, reading information as we went. And when we plugged the diffuser in that first time, it was heavenly!

Callysa, all fired up from a convention, mentioned her goal to have 3 parties. I thought, sure why not, I’ll host. What will our theme be she asked innocently? Ha. Recipes researched, information read, ideas pondered, lists made, shopping trip to Axman to dream, still not sure what we will make. Girl-child comes in the door with a drippy nose. Boy-child complains of sore throat. Toss a coin to see who gets the diffuser tonight. More recipes, ingredients, commentaries read. Boy-child wins the toss and chooses Lemon and Thieves.

So here we are, one week away, and while it is extremely last minute, there is going to be:

maketake

Oily Make & Take Party
at my home on
Saturday, October 1, 2016
at 1:00 pm and
you’re invited.

Can’t make it to the party, but interested in purchasing oils, or joining the club?

Here’s my link (I get rewards for your purchases):

Shop or Join Young Living with me!

Pantry challenge – week 6

Ooops. An entire week went by and I didn’t record anything. I’ve also slipped up in the spending realm.

Not that I’ve over spent.

Oddly enough, both the kids summer community ed classes were canceled at the last minute so I requested the money be refunded to my card, which left us with a surplus. Then, I looked up how to fix the headlight in my car and discovered that it was super simple and saved me $50.

What do I do with this savings?

This is why we never have money, all the extra is twiddled away. I’ve purchased more in groceries than I budgeted for. We found a great deal on craigslist for a dishwasher and microwave so we went and picked them up. The husband needed a new tractor part, so we made a payment on that.

I need to work on finding a good balance between spontaneous spending and budgeting. A way to have extra but not overspend.

Anyone else have this trouble?

Pantry challenge – week 5

In May we spent $185.89 on groceries. We spent $110.62 on farm supply out of our standard budget. These line items are much lower than previous months – wahoo! The husband sold a piece of farm equipment, so he had income to install more fencing for our goats/sheep and fix my tiller. Another win. Money for the farm gets tracked in the business account only.

Because of my tax refund and careful planning, we were able to catch up on the electric, make payments on a few medical bills, and make the last payment on debt 2 of 5. We even managed to give each family member a paycheck.

Not quite a zero spending month, but I actually felt better about our money than I have in quite some time. I am currently working through this months planning so that I can keep on top of everything even better than last month.

Monday: Salad

Tuesday: At the grocery I felt the desperate need for cheese, tortillas, more lunch meat and chips. While rearranging my basement pantry I found a few jars of salsa. So for dinner we had tacos! So very good.

Wednesday: Tacos again by request. Used the leftover meat and some rice found in the fridge.

We had our budget summit meeting. The general verdict of the panel (husband and kids) is that the pantry challenge is going well. But that pizza, ice cream, and ramen were missed. We discussed where the money was going and the kids were nervous about seeing $2.62 left in our pre-spending budget at the end. I explained zero dollar budgeting (every dollar gets spent on paper first before you spend it for real). Then adjusted a few line items based on reminders from the husband. In the end $0 remains. I am so relieved that my new take home pay still fits into our budget so well.

Thursday: Fend for yourself leftovers. I had some meat and cheese. Our microwave died last night. I’m bummed that I cannot easily melt the cheese on my tortillas or chips. We spent the evening in the garden. The kids are in the Junior Master Gardener program so we went to the community garden first to finish planting, then home to plant our gourd rows.

Gardening is about trying new things, hoping, dreaming. This year we are planting in new areas for our gourds. The husband loves the idea of building our own pumpkin patch that people can come to in the fall.

Friday: Pizza and ice cream

Saturday: Company over, the husband’s mom came and we had her birthday celebration. Hot dogs and hamburger macaroni, dq cake, salad, bread for dinner. Then crackers, meat, and cheese for supper.

Websites of information

http://www.novicefarmer.com/

http://fiascofarm.com/dairy/mozzarella.htm

Queso Fresco – Easy to Make Cheese

Grow Chives for the Best Strawberries

Benefits of the Edible Forest Garden

When Weeds are Good

How we Afford to Homestead

Make a Circle Garden for Beauty and Low-Maintenance

 

https://fareforall.org/