The Care and Feeding of Handknits
I blocked the stole. (No, I'm not trying to prolong the suspense, but I need sun today to take the photos to post tomorrow, so hang tight.) Then I realized that lace is for spring, it was Easter, there are flowers outside, and all signs point to spring. Which means it's time to wash and store my winter woolies.
Scarves. Mittens. Gloves. Hats. Sweaters. And also reblocking my Ene's Scarf, which I wear quite enough for it to be quite dirty. Also, I handwash all of my wool socks on a weekly-ish basis.
So I thought I'd share the Knitting Underway (Un)Patented Method of Caring for Handknits:
- Ascertain that item to be washed is, in fact, dirty.
- Check again. Really make sure you can't wear it once more. What about those freak June snowstorms in Arizona? You just never know, and you are about to embark upon A Process.
- Assemble needed supplies:
- Water. Generally easy to find in the sink or bathtub.
- Container for soaking/washing. I use a small plastic tub (approx 11x18 in) that I never use for anything else.
- Washing liquid of choice. I use Suave Lavendar Shampoo and Conditioner. (99 cents a bottle, smells good, may even repel moths)
- Salad spinner. That is never used for food.
- Drying rack. The sweater racks are great; wish I owned one. I use a combination of regular drying racks and towels on the floor.
- Pins. If you are blocking lace.
- Stick all supplies next to water source. Decide to wait until tomorrow. Note that it is in the exact location where you are most likely to step into the bucket and spill shampoo when stumbling around looking for your contact lens the next morning.
- The next morning, decide to wear the sweater one more time that day and delay washing until the next day.
- The next morning, begin by filling container with moderately warm water, just a squirt of shampoo (wool is sheep hair, right?), and add appropriate (now decidedly dirty) knitting. IMPORTANT: It is fine to wash multiple small objects, such as socks, together, but make sure they are in the same color family or they really don't bleed. You don't want to know how I know.
- Let soak. A while. This can be anywhere from 20 min to all day while you're at work or overnight while you sleep.
- Agitate gently with your hands. Drain water from the tub and add lukewarm water.
- Rinse until clear. Be gentle - you don't want to felt it (unless you do, but that's a different topic). I generally pick up the soaping wet knitting and rinse the water, put the knitting back in the water, and swish to get the soap out.
- Rinse until actually clear. This is why you don't want to use too much soap.
- Fill tub with lukewarm water again and add a squirt of hair conditioner. Again, wool is sheep hair. This helps make it softer and smells nice like lavendar. (Once I tried the coconut scent, but it was too weird to wear a heavy wool sweater while smelling like the beach.)
- Let soak. A shorter while now, maybe 5-10 min, or until you're done doing whatever else you're doing.
- Enter the salad spinner. This is why I usually handwash near the bathtub.
- Place salad spinner in a container of sorts that can get wet. Add wet clean knitted item. Make sure it's balanced, and spin to get the water out.
- Dry on drying apparatus of your choice.
- Note that in the several days you've been diligently handwashing, you've accumulated 3 new dirty pairs of socks.
The above instructions really only apply to animal fibers like wool and alpaca. Any other thoughts on handwashing?