Knitting, Knitting Essentials, Tips, Wool

Washing My Wool

Today, I spent the day washing the woolen accessories I have knit up. Today is the official first day of fall, and it certainly feels like fall. I decided to spend the day washing, and letting my woolen wears air dry. Many of which I have yet to wash since I made them. Over the past year I have learned why you should wash your woolen accessories. When they are new, and never been washed before they still have all the chemicals and waxes in them that they were produced with. Washing them gets the chemicals and waxes out. Chemicals are used to treat the wool for various reasons. Waxes are used especially on wool’s that are used for machine knitting so that the wool knits up, and holds up better when being used on a machine. The waxes help the wool’s slide through the carriage and over the needles so much easier. Some of the yarns I had used at my previous jobs were so full of waxes that within 20 minutes my hands were sticky from the waxes. We washed everything at the studio, which was where I really learned about how to wash wool. Through that experience I learned that once the garment has been washed, and much of the chemicals, and all the waxes and stuff are washed out, the garments are so much softer. I have found that with my own knit goods, once they have been washed the first time they are so much softer.

After the first time I wash my wool, I only wash them when they absolutely need it. Wools don’t need to be washed very often after the first time, and when they do, they need a very delicate hand wash, or the gentlest setting on an HE Washer that does not have an agitator. Agitation = one of the worst things you could do to wool. You will also want to use a wool wash when washing woolen items. I would recommend either Eucalan Wrapture which is made with Jasmine Oil and enriched with Natural Lanolin, though any of the Eucalan line of no rinse delicate washes would be fine (I am just familiar with the Wrapture line). I like the smell of the Jasmine oil, which is also a natural antiseptic (helping to get the chemicals and any germs and such out that you wouldn’t want on your skin) The Lanolin in the Wrapture wash also helps with adding some water resistance to your woolen items. I have also used The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo, this is what we used at the studio with the garments that we made.

I always lay my washed woolen items flat on old bath and beach towels on a hard surface like the floor. It usually takes them several hours to dry. I sometimes even will use two or three towels underneath each item so that there is more layers for the moisture to go.

I figured today would be a good day to wash my woolen wear, because it actually is feeling like fall, yet is warm enough to open out the house to get fresh air in, and help my garments dry. It is also to help air out the Wet Sheep smell. It honestly smells like a wet sheep in the living room, so I am hoping it gets aired out by tonight. Having the Wet Sheep smell with having washed wool is a given. I don’t mind the smell so much, but I don’t think the other people I live with want to come home to the smell of wet sheep. This time of year is perfect for opening up the house anyway. It is overcast and cooler, but not pouring down rain.

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Eucalan Wrapture
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The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo
Knitting, Tuesday Tips, Yarn

My Advice on Caring for Woolen Accessories

Based on my experience on working with Cashmere, Cotton/Cashmere Blends and Merino Wool that has been waxed  for use with a knitting machine, as well as working with Fishermen’s Wool, here are some tips for when you absolutely need to wash your woolen goods.

1. Your woolen wears do not and should not be washed after each wear. Unless you spill something on item, they can go quite a few wears before needing to be cleaned. That being said, if you are going to be wearing a wool sweater, I highly recommend wearing a tee shirt/undershirt as an under layer with your sweater. Not only will that help keep you warm in the cold months, but it will also help prolong the wear of your sweater between washing, as it will be the front line to absorb sweat and the natural oils that your skin contains.

2. I cannot emphasize enough having the proper wool wash for your garments, I highly recommend The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo or Eucalan Delicate Wash (I prefer the Wrapture Delicate Wash for my woolens, and used The Laundress wool shampoo when I worked at a knitting studio) you don’t need very much for what you are washing.

3. If you have an HE washer without an agitator in it, you can get away with machine washing your accessories, on the gentlest (delicate or hand wash cycle) rinse cycle with cold water. You don’t want wool to be agitated. When in doubt hand washing in a tub of cold water or a sink works as well.

4. I highly Recommend laying items flat to dry after every wash, do not put in the tumble dryer, not even on the lowest setting as the wool has the propensity to shrink, and wool garments are an investment, so why take a chance that it will come out being the proper size for an American Girl doll.

5. I recommend storing woolen wears in a plastic tub that has a lid with little cedar blocks (they can be found online, at Bed Bath and Beyond, and other stores may carry them I know that I got mine at bed bath and beyond) inside the container. I prefer plastic bins with a lid and cedar blocks because I feel that keeping that the containers would help keep bugs out, and potentially cut off the air from any already there.

6. If you take your wool garment in to be repaired, wash it first, those dealing with it at will thank you.

I am by no means an expert, but I am just wanting to pass along what information I have gained from experience.