I love trying new things and learning new skills. So when my friend offered to send me a box of alpaca fiber I was all in. I’ve been wanting to try to make homemade dryer balls and now I was ready to get started. If you have been curious about how to make your own dryer balls so you can replace the fabric softener sheets, I’ve got some tips and ideas.
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Easy Alpaca Fiber Dryer Balls
One important thing I learned is that alpaca fiber is not like yarn. In order to create the dryer balls, you need the alpaca fiber to “felt” or mat together. For my first attempt at felting this alpaca fiber, I tried to wind the fiber into a ball and thought the long pieces of hair were what I wanted to use. Turns out that these long pieces of hair are very coarse and don’t ‘felt’ well.
I immediately contacted my friend who gave me tips to fix these mistakes.
What is Felting?
To produce a piece of felt, you have to cause the hair or fibers to interlock with each other creating a matted fabric. This can be accomplished by applying water and agitation or by physically tangling the wool using special felting needles.What is Felting? A Beginner’s Guide
How to Felt with Alpaca Fiber
Remember that I am very new to this process and am still learning. If you have any tips to help me as I experiment with this new craft, I’d love to hear.
Gather your pile of alpaca fiber and gently pull the pieces apart. I found that by ‘shredding’ the fibers and creating a fluffy pile of hair that I had better success. I tried washing the fibers first and didn’t like the process as much. It was much easier to pull the fibers apart when it was dry.
Once I had a large fluffy pile of fibers, I ‘smushed’ into a loose ball and moved to the next step.
Take the big fluffy pile of fiber and start forming the ball. Soak it with hot water and apply a liberal amount of dish soap. Now is when the felting process begins. You want to turn the balls constantly in your hands and work the fibers into a tight ball. I did this process for about a minute and then added more water and soap before doing the process again. It took about 5 minutes for each of the dryer balls to go from fiber to a felted ball.
Once you have the fiber balls created, drop them in a panty hose or knee high. Use a rubber band to secure each of the balls in the hose. Toss into the washing machine and run a load. When you pull them out of the washing machine, take a look and make sure they look like they are ‘felted’ or matted together instead of random fibers.
Now the dryer balls are ready to toss in the dryer and use instead of your standard dryer sheets. Some people add a few drops of essential oils to help create a light fragrance as the clothes are drying.
Dryer balls effectively reduce the time it takes for clothes to dry, which can save you hundreds in gas and electricity over time. Dryer balls, unlike dryer sheets, are reusable, which not only helps the environment but also saves you money.Dryer Balls vs Fabric Softener Sheets
Where can you find Alpaca Fibers?
Some alpaca farmers have excess fiber that they are not planning to use for yarn or products. This fiber is often referred to as ‘thirds’ and is perfect for dryer balls. Contact them and ask if they sell the alpaca thirds. If you can’t find a local alpaca farmer, you can order fiber on Amazon or Ebay.
Have you ever made dryer balls with wool or alpaca fiber? Got any tips to help me when I make the next batch? I’d love to hear!