To wash or not?

Kaffe Fassett is a well know figure in the fiber world who has been known to be a strong proponent against washing knitwear. He claims to have never washed a single one of his stunning samples. And if you’ve ever accidentally felted a well-loved garment, it is easy to believe that leaving this work undone or to professional dry cleaners is the way to go.blockingFinding a local resource for this can be difficult and possibly expensive as all those items needing care start to add up. For those of us who wear our knitted garments through the winter, this time of year has us wondering whether or not to wash these items ourselves before storing them away for summer.If you elect to wash your woolens, what is the best way to proceed? If you still have a label from the yarn used to make the item, check there for any washing instructions provided for the yarn. Some yarns are machine washable and a delicate cycle with cool water may be a huge time saver.When in doubt, handwash only! The benefit of taking the time to wash these items yourself will ensure that the fibers aren’t agitated or stretched causing the garment to felt, shrink or otherwise loose its shape that you worked so hard to create.Here’s how:If you are washing a cardigan, button the sweater before starting. If the buttons are delicate or would be damaged by submersion in water, you may want to remove them from your sweater before continuing. You can reattach them when the sweater is dry.Fill a basin or a bucket with cool water, and mix in a mild wool wash. Submerge the garment. Gently swirl the garment through the water, and allow to soak for up to 10 minutes. Martha Stewart advocates for the addition of ¾ cup of white vinegar to the bath to neutralize any possible perspiration odor.Drain the water and refill the basin with fresh water, allowing the item to be rinsed. Drain the basin a second time gently squeezing as much water as you can from the garment. Remove it being careful not to wring or twist.Lay the garment down between two towels and roll it up like a burrito. Step along the roll using your body weight to squeeze out more water from the garment into the towels.  Allow it to air dry flat in a cool, well ventilated area on clean dry towels. Block to your preferred measurements to ensure a perfect fit when dry.twig-soapWe have a variety of wool washes in the shop that will work beautifully for this project. Eucalan comes in a variety of pleasing scents - the eucalyptus scent is purported to have moth repelling qualities. Twig & Horn wool soap adds a bit of lanolin back to the fibers ensuring that they will be as soft as possible.Once your garment is dry, you can steam it gently to remove any wrinkles and then store it folded and flat. Hanging a knit garment will cause it to sag and stretch. Store your woolens in an area that allows for air circulation such as a drawer or a shelf, placing them in plastic should be avoided. You may want to add sachets of cedar or lavender nearby to help prevent moths from being attracted to your woolens.