on cleaning and storing winter knits

The weather is finally warming up and it’s time to think about cleaning and storing our winter knits for the season. As a knitter, my wardrobe is a nice mix of store bought sweaters and hand knits – both requiring extra care at the end of the season.

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The most important thing to take care of before tucking them away for spring is to make sure that they are clean! Dirt, makeup, perfume, and skin oils not only stain or damage fibers but also attract the arch-enemy of natural fiber lovers. (You know, this guy. Rhymes with “sloth”.)

He Who Must Not Be Named

He Who Must Not Be Named

Lucky for us, washing your knits is easy as can be – I’d rather wash sweaters than do laundry!

First, remember one simple rule – don’t do anything to an animal fiber garment that you wouldn’t do to your own hair. No dry cleaning, no harsh detergents, no hot dryer – that’s how you end up with either a scratchy sweater or a really bad perm.

Instead, you want to select a product that will gently clean away dirt and excess oils without stripping the fibers completely. You could use shampoo if you wanted, but you can save yourself time (and water!) by going with a low suds, no-rinse wash.

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My three favorites are:
– Soak Wash: Soak is eco-friendly, biodegradable, made in Toronto, and comes in 4 awesome scents as well as scentless.
– Eucalan: This wash is named for eucalyptus and lanolin, ingredients in the original formula. It is non-toxic, biodegradable, and doesn’t contain phosphates, synthetic fragrance, or dye. The 4 scents contain essential oils – there’s a scentless option also. It’s so natural you can even wash your pets – Eucalan’s office manager washes her horse with it!
– Allure Fiber Wash: Allure is one of the newest additions to our fiber wash options. It is biodegradable and contains no dye, enzymes, or phosphates. It comes in two scents plus fragrance free.

Once you’ve picked your favorite wash and scent, it’s time to get started!

Just fill up your sink, bathtub, or wash basin with some lukewarm water, add a capful of your no-rinse wash, and gently submerge your sweater. I keep a couple of these Soak tubs around the house so that I don’t have to worry about any toothpaste from my sink getting onto my garments. (They are called Soak Carrie and Soak Phil, and we have both styles at the shop. Get it? Carrie & Phil!)

Credit: Soak Wash, Inc

Credit: Soak Wash, Inc

Then walk away and forget about them for 15 minutes. (Don’t worry, if you forget about them for longer it won’t hurt anything.)

When you come back, you will have nice clean knits! You may see some dirt or excess dye floating around in the bottom of your wash tub – that’s totally normal.

Gently lift your wet garments out, press out as much water as you can (don’t wring, you’ll break fibers), and roll in a towel or put in a gentle spin cycle to get out the rest of the water. Lay the item flat and pat into proper shape. It is now ready to dry. I like to throw my Dyson fan in the room where I dry my knits or spread them out on a plastic sheet on the bed under a ceiling fan. Both will get them drier faster.

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Once your garments are completely dry, gently fold and store in an air-tight container. You can add a lavender sachet (which won’t repel invaders but does smell lovely!) or vetiver balls – both fragrant and a nice moth repellant. We have these at the shop, and they are a knitter favorite. Definitely skip the mothballs – they don’t smell nice and have toxic chemicals in them to boot.

That’s all there is to it! As a bonus, your no-rinse wash is great for washing all kinds of other stuff around your house – bras, workout clothes, makeup brushes, baby clothes, spot cleaning carpets and upholstery, you name it!

For more information on the products mentioned here or on knitting (merchandise and classes), visit fibrespace.com or call the store at (703) 664-0344.

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Danielle is the owner of the fibre space shop and has been knitting since the age of six or so, when she completed her first project – a Cabbage Patch doll scarf. A Pittsburgh native with a degree in international development, she moved to the D.C. area to find a job and quickly established a career in non profit management and fundraising. For extra cash, she decided to turn her hobby into a job and taught knitting classes in the evening at area shops. With a heavy dose of sarcasm and a tough love style of teaching, Danielle quickly developed a following of students – busy D.C. professionals looking for a creative outlet. In October 2006, she struck out on her own with Knit-a-Gogo, Inc. – offering knitting classes and events all over the D.C. metro area. Before she knew it, Knit-a-Gogo had grown out of control and Danielle moved to the next natural step – a full service yarn shop. In July 2009 fibre space was born and has been rockin’ ever since. When she isn’t behind the counter with a mocha in hand and her kiddo Madeline at her side, Danielle is hanging with her hubby or lobbying for small business needs at City Hall.

fibre space™ specializes in unique yarns and fibres from hand dyed, independent, local and U.S.-made sources for knitting, crochet & spinning. Enjoy our wide selection of classes, designer workshops, yarn tastings, movie nights & more. Join the community in our comfy lounge, and let the helpful staff at fibre space™ get you started on your next handmade creation!

www.fibrespace.com

1319 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

703.664.0344

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