Caring for Your Luxury Hand Knits

Scarves and shawls, being outer garments, don’t need freshening as often as do garments worn close to the body.  But every gorgeous hand knit will benefit from your care.  Here’s how:

Fill your washing machine (yes, you can!) with cold water.  Use the same amount of water as you would for a “normal” laundry load, based on the article’s size.  Now, add a few drops of very gentle cleanser.  My preference is a no-rinse formula that you can find on line, such as Eucalan.  Shampoo works well, but only use two drops.  Really.

Slosh the cleanser through the water to fully dilute it.  Now, lovingly add your hand knit.  “Drown” it by pushing it into the water and letting the fibers get completely wet.

Here comes the hard part:  Don’t do another thing for 20-30 minutes.  Let it soak!  That will allow the surfactants in your cleanser to release any soiling.  If you leave your knit to soak for more than 30 minutes, the dirt will settle back into the fibers, so set a timer to be certain that you move onto the next step before 30 minutes have passed.  Do NOT turn your washing machine “ON”.  No, no.  You’re merely using it as a convenient basin, which is especially helpful when you’re washing a large item, such as an afghan or big shawl.

When your soaking time is up, put your washing machine on “SPIN” to allow the machine to do all the work of removing excess water from your garment.  When the SPIN cycle is complete, you’ll be amazed at how “almost dry” your item is!  It’s important to let the machine do the work, because hand-wringing-out will stretch and pull at the knit.  Besides that, your hands would be cold!

Carefully lift out your hand knitted piece.  If it’s a scarf, arrange it carefully on a rod somewhere or over a chair back that you’ve protected with a towel.  Sweaters can be dried on a spare bad, also with towels underneath.  Shawls and sweaters need to be spread out and patted into place.  If any edges want to curl, or if you want them very straight, lay them out the way you want them to dry and secure with pins or a book that’s protected by another towel.  After a few hours, you can remove the weights–your fibers will have learned to stay in the shape you put them into.

Very thick sweaters or afghans (throws) will benefit from being flipped after 12 hours or so, but scarves and very light items will be completely dry in that amount of time.

Now your precious hand knit is fresh, clean, and ready for you to enjoy.