Tag Archives: cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Or, I guess it’s Fall Cleaning…

The mornings are getting cooler and I’m reaching for my big wool sweaters again, sweaters I haven’t worn in months.  And, frankly, they’re kinda (very) gross.

Theoretically, I do a big cleaning of all my knitwear every year, then spot-clean as necessary.  But if I’m being honest, this hasn’t happened in quite a while.  Like, maybe 5 years since I last did a through once-over of all my sweaters.   And it shows.

I put on my Bubbles Pullover the other day, and my allergies went off like I’d just rubbed my face in a pile of pollen, dust, and cat dander.  Not ideal.

So, while I might not have the time to devote to every single sweater in my closet, I do have time to clean at least this one.  Let me show you how I did it.

First, I hit it with the de-piller.  I like this Sweater Stone.  It seems pretty efficient, and it’s what I’ve had for years.  The de-pillers with blades kind of scare me, like they might jump out and cut my sweater, but this one seems fairly gentle (maybe?).  But, if I have a really special sweater, made with really delicate fibers or featuring a lot of texture-work, I’ll just go through and pick off the really bad pills by hand.  Efficient? No.  Gentle? Yep.IMG_2110Then I did a once-over for any holes or snags.  I noticed a little hole near the collar of this guy.  It’s not so bad, so I’ll leave it for another day.  But, if it was worse or in a more critical spot, I’d fix it before I washed it, to prevent making the run worse.IMG_2119Now it’s time for a bath!  I folded the sweater, and lay it in a nice, warm, soapy bath.  I like Eucalan soap, since it’s super-gentle on wool, doesn’t require a rinse, and smells nice, but isn’t too scented. IMG_2121I never swish the sweater around or anything.  Remember, wool + agitation + water = felt, so I keep the agitation to a minimum.  I just push the sweater down into the water, squeezing out the air.IMG_2125Then I let it sit for… a bit.  I’m sure there’s a rule about this, but I usually just let it hang out until I get bored.  At least 5 minutes or so (more, if you’re like me and wander off and forget).IMG_2128And this is the best/worst part:  Look at how gross the water is!!! Yuck!IMG_2131I let the water drain away, and carefully wrung out most of the water (again being careful not to agitate too much).  Then I rolled the sweater up in a towel or two, and squeezed the sweater burrito to get out even more water.IMG_2134Then it’s off to the drying rack!  I like using these big (clean) window screens. (They were originally used as drying racks for hops, back when my husband grew hops for his home-brew beer, but now I mostly use them for my knitwear.)   You can also use your regular blocking boards or just lay your sweater out on more clean towels.  Just make sure you’ve got it blocking to the right measurements, otherwise your sweater might end up clean, but lopsided!IMG_2142Now I just have to repeat the process for my other two dozen sweaters…

How often do you clean your knitwear?  Do you have any tricks to streamline the process?

Oh, the Humanity!

There is nothing (NOTHING) worse in a knitter’s life than pulling out a sweater, or a scarf, or even a ball of yarn and finding that THE BUGS have gotten to it. Not yarn barf, not having to rip out an entire sweater, not even carpel tunnel. Nothing.

It doesn’t happen often, but it happens once in a while. A year ago, I pulled my winter hand-knits out of storage and found a big hole in my wool coat, and a chewed-through spot in my husband’s favorite hand-spun alpaca scarf. It still gives me the heebie-jeebies to think about. Ugh.

And, last week, I was digging through my yarn stash, and found a skein of yarn with little cobwebs and eggs on it!  (Needless to say, that skein went immediately in to the trashcan.  You gotta get rid of that business stat.)

There are a couple things you can do to avoid this terrible, terrible situation. (Although, be warned, I am no Orkin Man, or even someone who’s particularly good at cleaning.) Here’s what I do to protect my yarn, fiber and finished knitting:

First, if I am going to put something in storage, I’ll put them in plastic to keep out the bugs. Big plastic storage bins are perfect for coats and sweaters, and ziplock bags work well for accessories and skeins of yarn. (I did not do this with my coat last year or that skein of burgundy wool… which was probably part of my problem.)

51erG3aACqL[1]Second, I make sure to keep my woolens out of dank, musty, moldy, or damp places in my house. If you have a newer house, or don’t live in somewhere as damp as Seattle, you probably don’t have to worry about this so much. Bugs and mold need a source of water, so if you keep your woolens dry, you prevent pests from setting up shop in their folds.

And, third, I now have cedar hangers in all of my closets. I’m 80% sure that it’s a placebo effect, but cedar has been used as a pest deterrant for hundreds of years (think about cedar chests). I don’t have a cedar chest, because all of my furniture comes from Ikea, but you can buy blocks of cedar, cedar hangers, cedar sachets and about a million other cedar-y things to hide in your closet and deter pests. (And, cedar smells good… bonus!)81866[1]What do you do to protect your handknits?