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  • theknottingway

Scrub-a-Dub my Wool is in the Tub

Over the last five years, I have discovered the joys of wool and wool blend yarn. Wool is known to wick moisture and regulate body heat. When used for knitting, these properties produce garments that are breathable, helping the body stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They also don't need to be washed as often because wool has natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. I wear almost exclusively wool sweaters in the winter now and it has made a world of difference. Before doing so, the cold felt like it would seep into my bones and I would be so uncomfortable during the cold months. Now, I can spend so much more time outside comfortably snuggled up in a warm woolly sweater.

Since warm weather has settled in I no longer have a daily need to wear my wool sweaters and it is time to give them a washing. I only fully wash my sweaters once or twice a year. Daily, I air out the sweater I was wearing and spot clean it if necessary. This is enough to keep it fresh and looking nice. Too much washing can actually damage the wool.

I typically wash my sweaters by hand especially if I'm unsure of the fiber content or they are delicate. I do have a few that I wash in lingerie bags on the delicate cycle of my washing machine. These I know are knit with superwash wool. However, it is best to always err on the side of caution when washing hand knit garments. It would be terrible to have spent hours knitting a beautiful sweater for it to be felted and shrunken after a washing in the machine. Hand washing is not really all that hard or time consuming, especially when you consider that you are only doing it once a year.

Here is how I hand wash my sweaters.

First, I fill a basin or sink with warm or cool (never hot!) water and add a tiny bit of wool safe or gentle soap.

Second, I put the garment in the water making sure to submerge it completely. It is important to not scrub any part or this will cause felting. I let this soak for about 15 minutes while I spread out a towel.

Next, I remove the sweater from the soapy water, carefully supporting all parts so that it doesn't get stretched out. Having a second basin or bowl is handy here to rest the wet garment in while refilling the basin or sink with fresh, clean water. Once it is refilled I submerge the garment again to remove the soap. This step might need to be done twice if there was a lot of soap.

Then, the sweater is completely removed from the water and gently squeezed to remove excess water. After, place it on the towel and roll to absorb as much extra water as possible.

Lastly, arrange the sweater on a dry towel and let air dry out of direct sunlight.

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