Caring for Your Knits Over the Summer

May 28, 2011

While many of us leave one or more sweaters or shawls out all year round to wear, there are heavier sweaters, scarves, hats and such that we put away while the warmer weather is here. Here are a few tips for putting those garments away so they are fresh for the crisp fall air. Gently wash your garments according to the directions. Generally, this means:
  • Fill your kitchen sink or bathtub with cool water, and add some gentle soap. Use one specific for woolens, such as Soak or Woolite, or a gentle shampoo. You don’t need mountains of bubbles, but you do want enough to release the dirt from the fibres.
  • Lay the garment in the water and push it down with a flat palm until it is all submersed. Leave it for a few minutes so that the soap can do it’s work.
  • Gentle up and down motions with your hands, coupled with soft swishes side to side should be enough to release the dirt.
  • Some wool soaks say there is no need to rinse; if that is the case with yours, skip this step. If not, drain the sink while pressing the water out of the garments. Fill the sink again for a quick rinse with cool water. If you’d like, drop some lavender or other essential oil into the water at this time. No need to soak the garment this time; you just want to rinse away any dirty water left in the fibres. If there is lots of colour from excess dye or lots of dirt you may want to rinse again, but usually it is not necessary.
  • Squeeze, don’t wring, as much water out of the garment as you can, then transfer to a towel, roll up to remove as much water as you can.
  • Unroll and put the garment on a dry soft surface such as a clean carpet, a towel on a carpet, or a bed. Something big enough for you to be able to lay it out flat, shaped, and that it can stay there long enough to dry. Don’t use your own bed unless you know it will be dry before you go to bed, and use a towel so you’re not sleeping under damp covers.
  • When it is completely dry, softly fold and store in a clean dry spot; a drawer, box or plastic container. If I store things in a box or plastic container I loosely wrap my stuff in a clean sheet so that the cardboard or plastic don’t touch my garment. I honestly don’t know why, it just seems like a good idea.
Some other tips for caring for your knits: Generally it’s not a good idea to hang things, whether a sweater or a scarf. It will stretch out and flatten, as well as get weird bumps and creases from hangers and hooks. Get a basket at the front door so you can put your scarves, hats, mitts etc in rather than use the hook. Treat spots quickly, and you’ll find you need to wash your sweaters less. Spot clean the cuffs of your sweater using the method above. Rinse the coffee spill from the front of your sweater if the rest looks good. I once put the corner of my shawl in the cake mix and didn’t notice for a while; that chocolate batter came out pretty slick and the shawl was none the worse for it. The rest of my kitchen was not so lucky… Blessed be, Kim

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