Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Prelude to Winter ~ A Warm Cowl


As a knitter I rarely purchase any winter accessories as I prefer to make my own.  But last Winter I saw a super cute hat that I just had to have even though I knew it was made with an acrylic yarn.  And while I like the look of that hat it provided virtually no warmth and wearing it in an icy wind was like wearing no hat at all.

I mention that hat because I think it is a shame that many people will not wear wool thinking that it is too scratchy to wear against their skin and thus are missing out on the superior warmth that wool imparts. It's true that some wools can be scratchy but today that is less often the case as wools are more refined than they used to be and are often blended with softening fibers making them a pleasure to wear.  Such is the case with the cowl that I'm wearing, which is a blend of wool, baby alpaca, and silk.


Another reason that I believe many people shy away from buying wool garments is because they are concerned about ruining it in the wash, which is a valid concern.  But with a few precautionary steps wool is easy to wash and that should not prevent anyone from wearing wool.  Here are a few of my wool washing tips:

Mr. Puffy's Wool Washing Tips

As a preface, you should always follow the washing instructions on the label and defer to those instructions when in doubt or there is a conflict with any of the following tips.

1.  Before you put a drop of water in the sink, measure your garment and write down the measurements!  This is important because you will need to know what dimensions to reshape the wet garment (which can stretch vastly when wet).
2.  Use a mild soap in the water (and only use a small amount).  I have used dish soap which works just fine but I do prefer to use a special wool cleanser such as "Kookaburra Wash" or "Soak."  You can also add a touch of hair conditioner to the rinse which will help soften a wool that is scratchy.
3.  Allow the garment to soak for 10 minutes and then gently squeeze the soapy water through the item to remove any dirt.  You do not want to vigorously agitate wool as agitation can cause wool to felt which will ruin your garment.  But, rest assured, I've washed many items and never unintentionally felted any of them.
4.  Drain the sink and refill with rinse water.  Gently squeeze the garment in the fresh water to rinse out the soap.
5.  Drain the sink and roll your garment into a ball.  Place the wet item onto a towel (still in a ball is okay) and using your full body weight press out as much water as humanly possible.  Repeat as long as you are still pressing out moisture.  The more water you remove at this stage will quicken the drying time.
6.  Lay out a fresh dry towel where the garment can rest until dry (not in direct sunlight) and gently unroll your wet garment onto the towel and shape it back into the measurements that you wrote down before it was washed.  It might take some patience to reform it into it's original shape.  As it dries you can continue to work with the wool to ease it back into it's original shape.

Depending on how heavy the item is it can take a day, or as little as a few hours, to dry.  There!  Now there is no excuse not to buy wool and enjoy it this Winter.



By the way, I'm wearing a newly finished (and washed) cowl.  It was a pleasure to knit and I've already worn it and love it!  I did do some blocking to achieve this shape but that is a topic for another day.

Particulars:  Lush Button-up Cowl by Sweater Babe; 2 skeins Organik (70% organic merino,15% baby alpaca, 15% silk) by The Fiber Company; US 10 needles; no modifications whatsoever but I did cast-on using the cabled cast-on method (as no cast-on method was specified).  The yarn I substituted was slightly more dense than what the pattern calls and gave me a firmer fabric which is what I wanted.  The buttons are 1" spalted maple tree buttons, handcrafted by ARemarkYouMade.


Simcha's Recovery

For those of you concerned for Simcha's well being, you can rest assured that he's back in form and ready to play, and play, and play.  The verbal instructions taking place during this picture went something like "slow down boy, easy easy, that's close enough, okay, sit, sit, DOWN DOWN DOWN."   All of our training is finally starting to pay off as I'm happy to report that he stopped short of wrestling the camera from me.


Until next time, be well and love well and may all of our homes be filled with love, joy, and thanks this Thanksgiving holiday!   

29 comments:

Channon said...

He's a beautiful boy. I'm glad recovery is going well, as is the training.

The cowl is lovely, and I love your defense for wool! I even favor wool/cotton blends for the summer because the touch of wool makes the cotton more pliable and less of an issue with my tender hands.

jillian said...

Gorgeous cowl (in person and on you). You look SO glamorous in those shots! Glad to hear Simcha was minding you more for this picture. Yay!!

t does wool said...

what a beautiful knit,Claudia...the color suits you and the buttons are perfect.
give simcha a kiss from me ;)

Monika said...

The cowl looks wonderful. The photos are beautiful. I love to see photos of Simcha. What a handsome boy. I'm so glad he's well again, and playful! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

RaineyDayKnitter said...

I'm so glad Simcha is back to being health and well again, definitely something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am thankful for your online friendship which will hopefully be an 'in person' friendship someday soon. Your cowl is gorgeous and I will have to copy you and make one too.

Mary said...

Love the cowl! Happy Thanksgiving and glad your puppy is doing well!

Andrea said...

I'm glad Simcha is feeling better. Timber too had an undescended testicle and needed further surgery to remove it. Hopefully now he'll be back to his (new, tamer) self. :)

raining sheep said...

Such a wonderful cowl; around Calgary today (the second coldest place on earth after Antarctica) you need such an accessory to wear indoors. I had the heater on in my ivory tower office (skyscrapers are so cold on the interiors that I forced my company to get me a heater even though they are technically 'not allowed' in our building - every woman in downtown Calgary has one!!), I wore two sweaters (one being cashmere) and I was still freezing. The temps here were -32C approximately -41C with the windchill. I could use both the cowl and Simcha - he could sit on my feet :) He looks pretty warm lol.

Sue said...

Oh I am so happy that he is much better and starting to listen to your commands too. It must make it a lot easier for you. Your cowl looks beautiful and I am afraid to say that I never used to like wearing wool as it used to make me itch but the wools you buy now are much nicer.

Allie said...

The cowl is beautiful - love the buttons too! You are a brilliant knitter Claudia. I'm so happy to hear about Simcha, he's a beautiful boy!!!

gMarie said...

That cowl is lovely. thanks for the washing tips.

So glad that your boy is doing well. Don't you love vets? Give them pain pills and keep 'em quiet - right! Hope he continues to improve on his training. g

Hege said...

That's a beautiful cowl!!

Bridget said...

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at your house! I may have to try that cowl - I love ones that button.

Hooray for Simcha - he looks like he is a real character. Give him a pat from me.

Anita said...

Your cowl is beautiful! I'm headed to bookmark that one for myself.

What a great photo of Simcha! He's so beautiful, I'm glad that the recovery is going well & the training.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Hilary said...

What a beautiful cowl! It is such a perfect fall accessory...the color, the neat lace, and those fantastic buttons. I am a big wool supporter, so really enjoyed reading your defense of the fiber! And thanks for the tip of adding a little conditioner when it's in the wash...great idea!

I'm so glad to hear Simcha is doing well and is taking to his training!

betty said...

That's a lovely cowl in a great fall color.

I myself cannot wear many of the wools, but a good quality merino feels great to me and is never scratchy.

I'm glad to hear that Simcha is doing well. He's got an amazing stare in that photo. It's good you're able to finally show him who is the boss!

I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday.

At Home Mommy Knits said...

Gorgeous cowl! I adore it. Thanks so much for your washing tips. I have a lot of friends who are shocked that I knit my kids wool sweaters (so hard to wash) but I have told them it isn't that big a deal and the kids stay super warm in their sweaters. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Ally Johnston said...

He's certainly growing up. Beautiful cowl and great instructions on washing. There does still seem to be an air of fear around wool and looking after it.

Anonymous said...

I just added your web page to my favorites. I like reading your posts. Thanks!

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Thank you Anonymous ;) It pleases me to know that the blog is an enjoyable place to visit!

Thank you all for your kind comments on the cowl ~ I really do love it. As far as Simcha's training, well, we do see gradual improvements, here and there - LOL What can I say - he's only just 11 months old which is a difficult age.

Larissa said...

your cowl is beautiful! and i love how you can get two totally different looks. I love wool too - even superwash is the not same. Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and that Simcha scored a piece of turkey - in his dog bowl, of course!

knittergal said...

That cowl is gorgeous...I know I'll be knitting this one! I've enjoyed watching Simcha as he's growing and maturing...he's such a handsome fella!

Oh, and I love the new blog look! Very fresh!

Knitting Out Loud said...

I'm so glad Simcha is okay! And the cowl is lovely. Wool is so warm, and is especially good around the neck, as living in Maine has taught me.

Anonymous said...

О! Just want to say what a great blog you got here!I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work! Thumbs up, and keep it going!

KnittySue said...

Such a beautiful cowl and handsome boy..thanks for sharing your help with washing wool.
Have a great day.

Renee said...

What a gorgeous cowl! I love winter accessories too. Claudia you have a great eye to chose just the right yarn and pattern to knit up beautiful projects and wear them so stylishly!

So happy to hear that Simcha is healed well and doing better.

Tracy said...

Hi, Claudia! We're back from our Thanksgiving/USA trip--had wonderful time! I'm slowing getting to visiting and such though, as I've not been feeling too well in recent days--but getting there. Great to be catching up with you and back in blogland. LOVE the cowl... that rest color & lacey pattern is wonderful! So are the wood buttons. Looks very cozy for colder days now. Many thanks for knit washing tips. So happy to see Simcha, and to know he's doing well now. Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! :o) Happy Days, my friend ((HUGS))

Rachel said...

It's a beautiful cowl and I love the color. Sometimes I have to see SweaterBabe's designs knit in different yarn to truly appreciate them...this one would have gone unnoticed without seeing yours!

I am totally a wool girl...that's the only thing I wear on my head (what's the point otherwise!) and I even have wool pants for fieldwork when it dips below zero (F). The warmth of wool is necessary!

Thanks for the update on Simcha...so beautiful!

knittingdragonflies said...

Simcha is such a beautiful boy! I agree with you, knitted accessories are the best.
Take care
Vicki