Occasionally in the course of blogging about knitting-related things, I get asked how I wash the things I knit. After about ten years of producing knitted things that get worn, I’ve gotten a bit of practice washing them (and I do indeed like to wash the things I wear), and actually it turns out that this is not a terribly complicated thing to do. The internet is full of advice on things like this, but here’s what I do.
First, I’ve stopped bothering to pre-sort my laundry into knitted things and non-knitted things. I realized that what would happen is that I would shove the non-knitted (i.e. “regular”) laundry into the washing machine first, and then by the time it came around to deal with the knitted stuff it was all too easy to get lazy and post-pone it another week. Which you can get away with, of course, if you’ve got enough socks and sweaters, but it does pile up. Instead I sort things at the time of doing the laundry, and knitted things get put into the sink with a dose of Soakwash or Eucalan. The nice thing about Soak and similar products is that they are intended to be used literally to soak your knitted things. You don’t need to wash and rinse, you really do just squeeze it into the sink (or tub, depending on how much you’re washing) and let it foam up, and dunk your sweaters and socks in and let them sit for a bit. Then you drain the sink and squeeze out the water.
Once I’ve squeezed out as much of the water as I possibly can, I let the items air dry on a drying rack in the laundry area. For sweaters I lay them as flat as I can. I really do need to up my game on this, and I’m embarrassed to admit that it was only just last year I learned that such sweater drying systems as this one exist in the world, and now I want one.
Waiting for the stuff to dry still takes a day or two, but again, at least I’ve got backup stuff to wear.
I did used to save up all my socks and run them with my other delicates in the washing machine on the delicates cycle, but I found that they started to felt a little bit over time, and my attrition rate of handknit socks went up too quickly for my liking so I stopped doing that. Your mileage may vary, of course, but after a few mishaps with washing machines over time, I’ve stopped using them for my handknits if I can at all help it.
Related to this is, of course, the issue of ‘pilling’, and I wrote a post about that a couple of years ago that you might find useful if this is the first time you’ve happened upon this issue. Rest assured that you will most likely encounter pilling on your garments the more you wear them, and that even if you are very gentle and careful and methodical about your washing, the pilling will still happen – probably in the same places on the same kinds of garments. It’s not even necessarily a result of how good the yarn is, but just a fact of life when it comes to wearing things. Your commercial knits will pill too.
If I’m really in a bind and I need something to dry fast (like if I’m sending off a design sample for a deadline), I will lay it out on blocking mats in front of a fan overnight and that usually takes care of it. But if I can help it I like things to air dry.
Do you have favourite tools or tips for washing your knits? If you’ve ever had a mishap, no doubt you’ve ended up with quite a few best practices of your own through learned experience – it’s a badge of knitter honour.
Happy knitting this Monday!