Caring For Your Handknits
Even when yarn is labelled as “suitable for machine washing” it’s often prudent to hand wash knitted and crocheted garments. They will look better for longer!
Step 1: Washing the garment
- Options here are:
- Use a wool wash widely available in the supermarket
- Use soap flakes
- Use a “no rinse” solution, such as Eucalan or Soak. Since discovering “no rinse” solutions, I have stopped washing any woolly things in the washing machine, and I love the lavender smell from the one I have.
The issue I have with options 1. and 2. are that you have to then rinse all the soap out of the garment, which is not only more work for you, but it also means there’s more agitation of the garment and it is more likely to squidge together (or felt).
Step 2: Drying the garment as much as possible
- The first thing to do at this stage is to gently squeeze the excess liquid out of the garment, without wringing it.
Options here are:
- Put the garment into the washing machine and put it on a gentle slow spin in the washing machine
- Place the garment on a large clean dry towel, wrap it up carefully and stomp on it as if you’re squashing grapes. Ok, ok, you can walk slowly and gently up and down the towel to squish the water into the towel
Step 3: Blocking the garment
- Some items don’t really need blocking, they just need to be laid flat in the general shape they’ll be when worn, however the neatest result is obtained by blocking. To do this, lay a towel on top of a spare bed, or use a clean foam playmat. Special pins called “T Pins” can be purchased from knitting suppliers, although ordinary pins will do quite well also. Depending on the item, it will need to be stretched into shape and pinned in place, after a few hours it should be completely dry, and should retain the shape until it’s washed again. Items made from 100% acrylic don’t need to be blocked – do not steam iron those items either, it will change the fabric permanently. If they need ironed, use a cool dry iron.
There’s a handy (and humorous) guide to blocking to be found in a blog called Dulcinea’s Windmill, which can be found here.