Monday, March 10, 2014

Caring For Your Knit and Crochet Items

Have you been given or purchased a wonderful hand knitted or crocheted item, but you have absolutely NO idea how to care for it?  Then this blog post is for you!

Hand knit and crochet items are actually surprisingly easy to care for.  The first step is to figure out what materials the item was made from.  If you have access to the original yarn label it has all of the care information on the label, but if you purchased or were given a complete item, sometimes these things are missing.  I've listed the typical care instructions for most of the major types of yarn below:

Acrylic:

Acrylic yarns are usually the easiest to care for.  In most cases you can just pop it in the washing machine and dryer with no problems.  Some acrylics may have suggestions about what temperature the water needs to be and the settings used.  If you weren't given the recommended settings from the person who made it and there is no way to check, then I would stick to gentle settings and lower temperatures.  Or just hand wash it and lay flat to dry.

Wool:

Unless the item is made from superwash wool, you'll want to hand wash these items and lay flat to dry.

Cotton:

Some cottons can be machine washed.  I would use gentle settings and lower temperatures whenever possible.  This will prevent your items from stretching, shrinking or the yarn from breaking.

Unknown Fibers:

If you are completely unsure what your item is made from, then I would hand wash and lay flat to dry.

What exactly does "hand wash and lay flat to dry" mean?

You can use a variety of places to do this.  You can use your kitchen sink, laundry tub or even your washing machine.  You first need to make sure that your work area is clean.  If you are using your kitchen sink to do this, make sure it is clean.  I usually wash the sink out with dish soap and then inspect to make sure all debris and dish soap are gone before I fill it with water.  You don't want the water to be cold or hot.  Luke warm is best.  You'll want to fill your sink or washing machine with water before you put your hand knit or crochet items in.  Make sure that if you are using the washing machine that it is not running before you put your knits in.  You are only using the washing machine to soak your items.  You will use the fill cycle and then halt the machine and leave your items to soak.

You'll ideally want them to soak for at least 15-20 minutes.  This will allow the fibers to get completely wet and soaked through.  The yarn will relax in the bath.  You don't want to wring or agitate the water (especially if it is wool).  You'll just gently push the knitted or crocheted item into the water and let it soak.  You can use specially formulated products for hand knitted and crocheted items like Eucalan, Soak, or Kookaburra.  The bottles will tell you how much to add.  Make sure that you use only the recommended amount.

Once your item has been soaking for at least 15-20 minutes then you can take it out.  If you are using a sink, then make sure that you drain the water first and then press the item into the sink (again don't wring or otherwise distort the fabric).  Try to get out as much of the water as possible in this stage.  Another good tip is to get a high absorbency towel and roll the item into it.  Then you can squeeze or even stand on the towel to get even more water out.  Once you've got all the water that you can out of the item then you lay it flat to dry in an area that will not be disturbed.  This is a good time to make sure that the item is the proper shape as it is drying.  You can pat it into place while its wet and it'll hold that shape once it is dry.

If you are using the washing machine, then you can skip to the "spin only" cycle.  This will spin the items to get rid of the water.  Make sure it is only spinning and not agitating.  From there you pretty much proceed in the same way.  You lay your item out to dry patting it in place to make sure that it is the proper dimensions again.  I like to have my items laying on dry towels so that they absorb the water and turn my items about halfway through drying.

The drying time will take about a day for most items.  If they are smaller then they might even be done in a couple of hours.

It's that simple!  One last thing, never ever hang your hand knits.  This will stretch the fabric.  Make sure you fold them and put them away.

If you have any questions about washing your hand knit or crocheted items, please feel free to comment!