When Joe and I got married this past October, one of the gifts we were blessed to receive was a set of dyer balls. If you are unfamiliar with dryer balls, allow me to explain. They are little wool balls that you toss in your dryer along with your clothes, which act as a natural replacement for dryer sheets. They have been so handy to have around the house, because the typical dryer sheets you can get from the store tend to leave a greasy residue behind that can really irritate your skin - at least it does for us. Since these dryer balls are essentially just felted wool, we don't have to worry about that, though.
Another benefit is that they're really easy to make, and having been on the receiving end, I can safely say that it's a great gift idea this holiday season as well. All you need is some non-washable wool yarn (I used Paton's Classic Wool in Dark Grey Marl and Dark Grey Mix), the leg from an old pair of stockings, a yarn needle, and some essential oil of your choice. Personally, I think Lavender is a nice, calming scent.
Wrap the yarn into a ball until it is about the size of a tennis ball, then cut the yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread this tail into a yarn needle, and push it through random areas in the ball to secure the strands in place. Then, repeat this process until you have your desired number of dryer balls. You can get about three balls per skein of yarn, which I think is a good number if you're giving these away as a gift.
Once you have made as many balls as you would like, put them in the stocking, one at a time, tying a knot between each ball. This keeps the balls from falling apart during the felting process. Then, toss the stocking into the washing machine first, washing the balls on hot. You can also toss them in with clothes if you would like. Then, dry them on hot as well.
Repeat these last two steps until the balls resemble those in the picture below - it took me about three times. They will likely have a "wet dog" smell to them, which is where the essential oil comes in. Just add a few drops of oil to the balls so that they have a nice, clean scent, and you're done!
Let me know if you try to make these yourself, and how they worked out! Make sure to send me a picture either on Instagram or Twitter so I can see your creations!