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.
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!