Madder

Are you Washing your Woollies?

Washing Your Woollies!

Are you washing your woollies? Now the weather is better, you might be thinking about how to wash them before putting them away until the autumn. So what do you use? I have tried plenty, mostly when I rinse my hand dyed yarns, but also washing woollies of course. I don’t have a particular favourite for yarn rinsing though I do for washing woollies. More later….

Do I have to wash woollies by hand? Its a question I often get asked, especially at shows when customers can take time to chat. The answer is always Yes! If you have spent time knitting or crocheting your woollies, then don’t risk washing them in the washing machine. I always hand wash all woollens, even those marked as machine washable, why take the chance?!

Wool fibres can be delicate when wet, and don’t like being stretched and pulled or jumbled around. That’s why a washing machine, even on a woollen cycle isn’t advisable. The fibres will go out of shape, leaving you with your precious hand knit looking a bit worse for wear. Wool also doesn’t like hot water or sudden changes of temperature, and will felt quite quickly. (Think of a favourite jumper that accidentally went into the washing machine and came out doll size!)

So hand washing your woollies?

Gently is the first advice, especially when the fibre is wet. I usually swish a small amount of wash liquid into a large bowl or sink of warm water, only hand hot at most. Then lower the item into the water and let it soak in the soapy liquid. Most woollies, unless they are stained will only need this gentle treatment to be refreshed and washed clean. Leave the garment in place and let the water out then rinse with cool water by “puddling” it around the item. This should be enough to wash away the soapiness without too much friction on the wool fibres.

Let out the water and gently lift the garment onto a flat towel. Roll the towel up with the garment in place to soak up excess water, then lay on a dry towel somewhere out of direct sun to dry. I don’t use softener on my woollies at all, I think it makes the fibres feel clumpy. I only use softener when rinsing hand dyed yarn skeins that are a bit smelly from the dyeing!

Madder hand dyed yarn being rinsed

If your item is stained you may need to work on the stain with extra wash liquid and gently massage the stain to wash your woolies clean.

My favourite wash liquid is Soak. The reason I like it so much is that that’s all you have to do. Soak the garment in the liquid, no rinsing needed and no softener. I don’t currently stock Soak, but would if enough customers are interested. (Other wool washes are widely available in the supermarket etc, and all are very good. I especially like Ecover for its environmental credentials)

When you store your washed woollies, make sure they are somewhere wool moths can’t get them, ideally in a vac bag or sealed plastic storage box. I always pop a bar of soap in too so they smell fresh when they come out in September.)

Have a look at our You Tube Channel to see how I do it!

Bye for now, I’m off to wash some woollies!

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