The promised guide is here! We’ve put basic washing instructions in the packaging with every order we’ve fulfilled here at Cozy Hearth Yarn Works, but sometimes, you just need a little more details. We get that. We’re rather detail oriented people ourselves. So, for your reading pleasure, we’ll walk you through the steps and hopefully answer all your questions about how to keep your treasured knits in the best possible condition.
Do you still have the packaging your knitwear came in? This has lots of relevant information attached – in the “Thank You” note, we also add details about the fiber your yarn is made of, and our basic recommendations for care. If you lost your card, feel free to get in touch with us to double check your fiber content.
A lot of our offerings are either acrylic, or high-percentage acrylic blends, because we know making your knitwear care easier is valuable. Even with machine-washable knits, there’s a few things to keep in mind to keep your knitwear in best shape! Stick with cooler water and more gentle agitation if at all possible, as acrylic can be damaged by high heat. If you’re concerned about, say, sweater sleeves or the trailing ends of a shawl or scarf getting tangled and stretched, washing your knit in a garment bag (or even a pillowcase knotted at the top) can save you some heartache.
If at all possible, you want to dry every kind of knitwear flat for it to keep its best shape. Some acrylic yarns can technically handle a trip through the dryer on low heat, but again, heat can damage acrylic fibers, and softer yarns are likely to pill and lose their softness. Just take your damp knits out of the washer, gently stretch them back into shape if necessary, and leave them somewhere flat to dry out.
Now, if you’ve purchased something made with natural fibers, it’s a somewhat different story.
Cotton, which is our fiber of choice both for washcloths and for a number of baby items, is very forgiving. It can be washed as hot as necessary, and can even easily handle a trip through the dryer on low. It can stretch under its own weight if stored hanging, but so far we’ve only debuted designs that won’t likely run into that problem. (If you decide to commission an oversized cotton sweater, that’s another story!)
Wool (and most animal fibers) can be damaged by rapid temperature changes, excessive agitation, and application of heat. Consequently, a lot of modern wool is put through a chemical process called “superwash” that removes some of those limitations. Superwash wool items can, in fact, go through your washing machine (although we’d still recommend drying them flat.) If your wool knit doesn’t say “superwash” on its instructions, it will need to be handwashed. Luckily, that’s easy!
If you only have one knit item, set a clean bowl in your sink. (If you have more than one, or it’s a very large item, you might end up using the whole sink basin – use your judgement.) Fill your bowl with lukewarm water, and add a washing agent. There’s lots of specialty wool washes on the market. We use Soak, and we’ve had good results before with Kookaburra in terms of cleaning, although we weren’t huge fans of the very strong tea-tree-oil scent. In a pinch, you can use a bit of shampoo or (for lightly soiled items) conditioner you use on your own hair; wool is hair, after all. Swirl the wash around in the water until it’s integrated, then add your knits to the bowl. At this point, you should mostly just let your knits be: squeezing air bubbles out gently can help them stay submerged, but too much swishing or agitation risks felting your knits. Let it soak, and let the wash work its magic.
After the time listed on your wool wash (or after, say, 20 minutes with a homemade wash), gently lift your knits out. You can lightly squeeze out a bit of extra water, but don’t wring them. Instead, lay them out on a clean bath towel, and roll up the knit to press out extra water without disturbing the knit fabric. Finally, reshape your knitting and lay flat to dry.
There’s the basics of care for all the fibers we currently carry! Someday, we’ll need to update you on the particulars of silk, and I’d like to write a basic troubleshooting guide for “something went wrong with my knit how do I fix it,” but I think I’ve rambled for long enough about fiber behavior and washing techniques. Stay cozy, friends, and take care of yourselves while you take care of your knits, ok?