Creating and gifting handmade treasures is part of the joy of knitting. Your hard work will be coveted for years to come as long as your garments are cared for properly. Consider providing a hand knit care guide with each knitted gift you give. Many people do not realize that hand knitted textiles are delicate and do not require frequent washing.
Ideally, hand knitted garments, such as sweaters, are only washed a few times each year. Extend the period between washing by wearing an undergarment to protect sweaters and shawls. Freshen up fabric between washings with fabric refresh spray. When it becomes necessary to wash, follow these tips for best results:
While it is recommended that all hand knitted garments be washed by hand, some yarn will do fine in the washing machine. Items that are made with wool should always be washed by hand. All hand dyed yarns should be hand washed. Blended yarn, cotton, linen, or acrylic can be washed in the machine on the gentle cycle. Regardless of yarn type, cold water should always be used to launder hand knitted textiles.
It is not advisable to use your typical Tide laundry detergent on hand knit fabrics. Wool requires a gentle detergent developed specifically for delicate fibers. Look for a detergent with lanolin, which is a natural oil produced by sheep to preserve and protect wool. Eucalan is one such detergent and Ecover is another good one.
Temper any inclination to scrub your hand knitted garment. Use a large sink or bathtub filled with cool water and detergent and submerge the garment. Gently agitate the garment in the water for 5 minutes. Never wring or use any type of scrubbing tool. Rinse the garment until all detergent is gone and lay flat on a dry towel. Reshape the garment by hand on the towel. Depending on the size and thickness of the garment, drying may take 48 hours. If you need some guidance with blocking, check out this article.
Avoid hanging up hand knitted garments on hangers. Large blankets and afghans can be stored on drying racks or decorative blanket racks, but be sure to shift them occasionally. Sweaters and scarves should be folded flat and stored in garment boxes.
Even with the best care, snags happen. Never attempt to cut the snag, pull it or use a sweater shaver. If you are unable to make the repair yourself, have an experienced knitter repair for you. A small snag can quickly turn into a hole without a repair.
Owning a hand knitted garment is very special. Follow these five simple tips and you will enjoy your hand made gem for years to come.