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Refresh Your Knits

Posted by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas on

As the seasons change, our wardrobes generally follow suit. With the arrival of spring, we tuck our cozy winter woolens away and pull out lightweight handknits. Naturally, the reverse happens with the first chilly hints of fall. We want our pieces to last—and so we must give them the care that they deserve. Treat your woolens well, and they’ll last season after season, year after year!

BEFORE YOU TUCK AWAY...

Before You Tuck Away...

. . . make sure that your hand-knit or -crocheted pieces are clean and de-pilled! Daily grime (i.e. perspiration, skin cells, or food stains) weakens the natural fibers we love and can invite hungry little creatures (i.e. moths). And those little fuzz balls—bound to happen with softer yarns—can make an otherwise lovely piece look worn.

First, pluck off the largest pills by hand, starting with the most obvious areas (probably in spots that see a lot of friction). Then, take a Gleener and finish up—the finest edge works well! Now, your piece is ready for a nice bath in tepid water. A gentle no-rinse wool soap, like Soak Wool Wash, or the Laundress’ Wool and Cashmere Shampoo (which does require a rinse) will protect and restore your woolens, while preserving the natural moisture and elasticity of wool, alpaca, cashmere, etc.

Important:
Always check your yarn’s label for care instructions and always test wash a yarn that’s new to you—a great reason to keep a gauge swatch and to take notes on your finished projects for reference!
Important:
Always check your yarn’s label for care instructions and always test wash a yarn that’s new to you—a great reason to keep a gauge swatch and to take notes on your finished projects for reference!

Once your piece has relaxed in the bath, gently squeeze out as much water as possible. If your piece is large or long—a comfy sweater or generous wrap—be sure to support the entire weight of the piece so that it doesn’t stretch out. Roll it up in a towel and continue to carefully squeeze out more moisture. Alternatively, you may place your piece in a zippered laundry bag or pillowcase and run through the spin-only cycle of your washing machine. Then, it's time for a little re-blocking!

Lay your piece flat on a blocking board or other moisture-safe surface. A gridded blocking cloth may help to center or align your piece. Keep a few notions—a tape measure, T-pins, fork blocking pins, and your piece’s measurements—on hand. (If you don’t have your design schematic, be sure to measure your knit before you get it wet!) Pin to the desired finished dimensions and allow it to dry thoroughly. You may need to do a final touch up with the Gleener—your piece will look like new!

STORE WELL

Store Well

Proper storage is a sure-fire way to prolong the life of your woolens. Wherever you store your garments or accessories, make sure neither the piece nor the environment is damp (or it’ll invite mildew and rot) and not too dry (or the fibers may become brittle and deteriorate). And never store your knits hanging! If you hang a piece for too long, it can strain the seams and stretch out otherwise elastic fibers.

We recommend that you gently fold your knits with no hard creases—a scrunch of un-dyed tissue, or a roll of cotton or linen cloth can help here. Then, store your knits in something like our Churchmouse Project Boxes, which are coated in bookbinder’s cloth. Your handknits need to breathe, so if you store them in a plastic bin, make sure the lid isn’t snapped tight. Tuck in a little lavender or cedar sachet to keep the pests away. In addition to daily grime, moths love lanolin and other natural oils found in animal fibers almost as much as we do!

Another little tip:
When you finish a project, keep a few yards of leftover yarn and a record of pertinent information—gauge, fiber content, dye lot, care instructions, etc. Be sure to wash this extra yarn with your piece, so that their color quality matches over time.
Another little tip:
When you finish a project, keep a few yards of leftover yarn and a record of pertinent information—gauge, fiber content, dye lot, care instructions, etc. Be sure to wash this extra yarn with your piece, so that their color quality matches over time.

WHEN IT'S TIME TO UNPACK...

When It’s Time to Unpack…

. . . if you followed all the steps above, the unpacking process will be easy! The most your pieces may need is a touch up. A little spritz with a wool-friendly spray can do wonders to refresh a stored sweater. If you’d like to release creases, a gentle press and steam could do the trick. Lay your piece flat on a blocking board or another moisture-safe surface. Whenever you use an iron, be sure to protect your piece with a damp press cloth. Rather than sliding the iron across your piece, lift and move it between presses. If you move the iron back and forth, you may stretch and distort your stitches. The steam will take care of the creases!

Treat your woolens well,
and they’ll last season after season, year after year.

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