Making Wool Dryer Balls

I’ve never been much of a knitter, but I have to tell ya, making wool dryer balls is so calming, it’s addictive!  Although you are more than welcome to purchase yours from Babies Bottoms and More, I thought some of you might be interested in a DIY post on how to make them. 

First, though, I’m sure you’d like to know what wool dryer balls are and why anyone would make them.  Dryer balls are basically soft, weighted balls that you toss in your dryer with your wet clothes.  They bounce around in there, breaking up pockets of wet clothes so the air can circulate better.  While bouncing around they also bump into the fibers of your clothing, making the clothes softer and less stiff.  So they can reduce drying time (saving energy) and replace fabric softener.  Many dryer balls are made of plastic, but wool ones have several distinct advantages:

1. They’re all natural and free of BPA and harmful chemicals.

2. They last longer.

3. They can be scented with essential oils.

4. You can make them yourself and/or support a work at home mom who makes them!

How to make them:

Step 1, start with 100% wool yarn.  Bulky yarn is better than worsted – the fluffier the yarn is the better it will felt (shrink and stick together) and you’ll get a sturdier ball. 

Step 2, (optional) cut a long strip out of an old wool sweater and wrap or braid it into a tight ball about the size of a golf ball.  This will be the core of your dryer ball.  If you don’t have an old wool sweater to cut up you can skip this step and just start wrapping a ball of yarn, but your dryer ball will use more yarn.

Step 3, wrap yarn around the core, pulling it tightly where needed to make a nice even ball shape.  I like to turn the ball a little bit with each time I wrap the yarn around so it makes an asterisk pattern on the ball.  This way all sides get even coverage.  Do this until the ball is about 2/3 the size you want your finished dryer ball to be. 

Step 4, cut the yarn and tuck the end under other yarns to make a ball that won’t unravel.  Put it inside a sock and fasten the end with a rubber band.  If you’re making multiple dryer balls you can use knee socks and fit about 3 balls per sock, just use a rubber band in between each ball to keep them separated. 

Step 5, Grab that load of laundry you needed to do today.  Put it in the washer and add the dryer ball(s) in their socks.  Run a load on warm or hot water.  When done, toss it in the dryer (dryer balls too) and dry on high or medium high heat. 

Step 6, When the clothes are dry, get the dryer balls out.  Leave the clean laundry to deal with later, you’re making dryer balls! (ha ha, just kidding, you can fold it if you really want to).  Add another layer to the dryer ball, winding the yarn around and around in an asterisk pattern (once you complete one asterisk you can shift the ball so you’re doing another one with the center point in a different place on the ball).  You want the yarn to be firmly on there, so keep some tension in it, but you don’t have to make it super-super tight.  Make the ball about 20-30% bigger than you want your final dryer ball to be. Just like the first layer, it will shrink when you wash it.

Step 7,  repeat steps 4 and 5.  When the second layer of yarn has been washed and dried, it will be felted and will not unravel.  You’re done!  Felting the two layers separately makes the dryer balls sturdier and less likely to fall apart.  Ideally you’ll want 3 or 4 of them in your dryer at all times. 

I get my yarn from www.knitpicks.com.  If you would like to buy dryer balls from Babies Bottoms and More, click here: http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/dryer-balls.html

Like this post?  Follow us on Facebook for more like it! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Babies-Bottoms-and-More/125125817501858

Advertisements

Best Diapers For…

Frequently we will have new parents come to the store and ask us “What’s the best diaper?”  The thing is, I can’t answer that question, because it’s not the same for everyone.  But after getting to know the parents a little bit, learning about their lifestyle (stay at home parent or daycare?  Washer and dryer in home or laundromat?), preferences (Need the easiest solution?  Want only natural and organic fabrics?) and budget, we can help our customers find the perfect diaper for their baby.  Here’s a list of some of the “bests” for certain situations.

prefold diapers cost just $2-3 each

Least Expensive

The least expensive diaper will be a prefold or a flat diaper with a cover.  Used is even cheaper (we have quite a few gently used prefolds in stock right now).  We will teach you how to fold them and put them on with a snappi fastener (no need to use pins!) or you can fold them in thirds and lay them inside the cover.  The least expensive cover is the Econobum, a one-size cover for $8.95, however it will not usually fit a newborn.  The least expensive to fit a newborn will be the Thirsties XS cover at $11.25, or for $1.50 more you can get a size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap which will fit up to 18 lbs.  You can also make your own wool covers from upcycled sweaters from the thrift store – super cheap!

Flat diapers dry the quickest because they are just a single layer, folded

Quickest Drying

A flat diaper is the quickest drying since it unfolds to only a single layer of fabric.  Pocket diapers with microfiber inserts also dry pretty quickly.  A quick rule of thumb is that man-made fibers dry quicker than natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and hemp.  All-in-one’s generally take the longest to dry, except for the Mommys Touch all-in-one, which due to its unique design and being made of microfiber, will dry faster than even a prefold. 

Best Bottom shells are one-size but the inserts are sized - very trim.

Trimmest

In my experience there are two things that contribute to a trim diaper: cut and fabric.  A diaper that has absorbent material only down the center of the diaper and none wrapping around the baby’s hips will be trimmer than one that wraps thick absorbent material around the baby like a prefold does.  As for fabric, microfiber tends to be “fluffy” while tightly knit cotton, bamboo, and hemp can be denser and therefore trimmer.  Finally, a diaper that is sized as opposed to one-size (or at least that has the inserts sized) will be trimmer on a smaller baby because you will have less material on the smaller size.  Some of the trimmest diapers that we carry are the BumGenius Elemental (all-in-one) and the Best Bottom Diaper (all-in-two).  The hemp/cotton insert is trimmer than the microfiber insert in the Best Bottoms. 

BumGenius diapers are easy to change from small to large

Best for Two Kids in Diapers

The nice thing about one-size diapers is that when you have two different-size babies both in diapers, you can still use the same diapers on both kids.  So, one-size diapers are a given, but which ones?  For easier switching between sizes, steer clear of diapers that change size by adjusting the elastic (like Fuzzibunz, Charlie Banana, Rocky Mountain Diapers, and SoftBums) and pick one that changes size by snapping down in front.  The external snaps just pop open or snap down quickly so you can easily change the diaper’s size to fit whatever kid you happened to grab!

Best Overnight Diaper

Although some parents have success using pocket diapers overnight, for those that don’t, we recomend a  double-layered prefold or heavy-duty fitted diaper such as the Tiny Tush Trim with an extra doubler or a Happy Hempy stuffable fitted stuffed with a hemp prefold.  Usually PUL covers work fine, but for a super-soaker baby you can try a wool cover like the Tiny Tush organic wool soaker. 

What about you?  What special situation makes you seek out YOUR perfect diaper?

Nighttime Diapering!

When I think of using cloth diapers at night, I think of Nighttime Diapering: The Final Frontier.  Often I’ll talk with parents who have switched to cloth diapers but still use disposables at night.  I’m here to tell you, though, it IS POSSIBLE to use cloth diapers at night without leaks.  What throws most people for a loop is that you can’t necessarily use your daytime cloth diapers at night.  Take our family, for example.  We put John Paul (3 months old) in all-in-one’s during the daytime: either BumGenius Elementals, Bummis EasyFit’s, or Bottombumpers.  We like AIO’s because they’re easy and they’re trim.  At night, though, they’re just not absorbent enough for a baby who is nursing – and wetting – all night long. 

Sometimes if you use pocket diapers, you can make them work for nighttime by adding an extra insert (or two) into the diaper.  The problem you can run into though if you do this, is that the diaper gets so stuffed with absorbency that the leg elastic sticks out and won’t fit snugly around the baby’s legs.  When this happens, you get leaks. 

Tiny Tush Trim fitted diaper

My go-to recommendation for nighttime diapering is a very absorbent fitted diaper with a separate cover on top.  We like the Tiny Tush Trim with an extra doubler (here: http://www.babiesbottomsandmore.com/tituonesifid.html), or the Happy Hempy’s one-size stuffed with several hemp, cotton, and/or microfiber inserts (here, buy inserts separately: http://www.babiesbottomsandmore.com/hahewifl.html).  Both of these are one-size fitted diapers, meaning you have to use a cover with them. 

Tiny Tush Wool Soaker - also comes in colors!

 

For the cover, usually a regular PUL cover like the Thirsties Duo Wrap, Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, or Flip cover works fine but for ultimate bulletproof protection, wool is your solution.  We had a couple nights with small leaks around the legs with John Paul, so I tried putting him in a Tiny Tush Wool Soaker (here: http://www.babiesbottomsandmore.com/tiny-tush-organic-wool-soaker.html).  Magic!  His diaper lasts through the night with no leaks now.  The wool is waterproof after I treated it with lanolin spray, and we just air dry it each morning and it’s ready to go again at night.  Wool is odor-resistant so you don’t have to wash it until it starts to smell – usually about every 3-4 weeks if you’re only using it at night.

What About Wool?

The most common material for diaper covers is PUL, or polyurethane laminate, a durable, waterproof fabric.  However, second in popularity is wool.  Wool, you say?  How is wool waterproof?  Why would anyone want to use wool? 

Well, for starters, wool is a natural fiber and fully biodegradable, so it has a smaller ecological footprint than either PUL or fleece (another popular cover fabric).   Here are some more Q and A’s about wool, courtesy of the mama behind  http://hyenacart.com/mizknits

Q. So how often does wool need to be washed?

A. Wool needs to be washed about every 2ish weeks, more if you get poo on them or if the diaper under them has stink issues.

Q. Is it hard to care for? You lanolize it first, right? It sounds complicated, but I’m sure it’s not.

A. They are very easy to care for, hand wash in luke warm water, gently squish some baby shampoo through them or wool wash. Then soak in a bowl or sink with warm water and lanolin (melt lanolin in water in a coffee cup or something microwaveable before adding to bowl or sink), squeeze water out, lay flat on a towel to dry.   If you’re using lanolin spray, then you would spray it on after washing and rinsing, and massage into the wool.

Q.  How many wool covers would I need if I were to just use them at night? (Wool comes highly recommended as a nighttime cover both because of how well it works and how breathable it is.)

A. I would get 2 wool covers if using just at night so you have a back up when one has been washed and is drying.

Q.  My baby gets really hot, would wool make it worse?

A. Wool is VERY breathable, so it will actually keep him/her cooler at night.   As long as you have enough absorbancy underneath wool should work well.
 
Q. I’m guessing Longies are wool, just in a pants version and you can you use them to cover a diaper? Do they get wet?

A. Longies are wool just in pants version. and you can use them to cover a diaper. They get damp on the inside just turn inside out to dry after changing the diaper, occasionally they feel damp on the outside but not wet, its like they feel cool to the touch, like they could be damp.. but not quite.. its hard to explain.

Take a look at our Imse Vimse wool cover here: http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/imse-vimse-wool-wrap-cover.html

Contours and Fitted Diapers

Contour Diaper
We’ve gone through the pros and cons of prefolds, so now we come to two more types of diapers that are used with a separate waterproof cover.  (Flat diapers are the fourth type used with a cover, but they deserve their own post complete with folding instructions). 

Contour diapers are like a prefold, but without the folding.  They are already baby-shaped, so you simply lay the baby down on the contour diaper, fold the diaper up around the baby, and put a cover on top.  You can use a Snappi or pins for extra security (I do) but it’s not strictly necessary with a contour.  Contours are slightly easier to use than prefolds, since they don’t require any advance folding, and slightly more expensive than prefolds.  A diaper service quality prefold will cost $1.50-$4 depending on size and quality, while a good contour diaper costs around $7.  Contour diapers are actually my favorite diaper to sew myself.  I like to experiment with different fabrics, maybe something in a cute print on the outside, and super soft cotton fleece or bamboo fabric on the inside to go against the baby’s skin.  When choosing a contour diaper, I prefer ones made out of knit fabric, not woven, because they can stretch to fit baby in a way that woven fabric can’t. 

Fitted diapers are one more step up from contours.  They have elastic around the waist and legs, and some way of fastening the diaper on the baby, usually snaps or velcro.  Fitted diapers, like prefolds and contours, work well with a wrap cover, but they also have some other perks.  For one thing, if you are home with your baby and want to put them in just a fitted diaper with no cover, this is a good way to get more air circulation around baby’s bottom.  The velcro/snaps and elastic make sure the diaper will stay put on an active toddler, even without a cover.  Fitted diapers are also very popular with mama’s who like to use pull-on wool covers.  The elastic around the legs helps contain EVERYTHING, keeping the wool cover cleaner longer, which is important because wool covers have to be hand-washed, so it’s good to keep them clean as long as possible.