September 25, 2020 in Brown Sheep

Time to Refresh Handknits for Fall

Finally… it’s officially fall.  I hope you’re indulging in everything pumpkin spice, taking long walks in the crisp air, and most importantly – getting your handknit (or crochet or handwoven) items out of storage and ready to wear for cooler days.

Wool is an amazing natural fiber: warm, vibrant, and cozy. However, it does take just a touch of special maintenance — with a little love, something made with wool can be enjoyed for many years.

As the seasons change, why not create a little ritual of revisiting handmade items – taking the time to refresh the way they look and feel. I enjoy this process because it brings back so many memories – of knitting the items in different places and at different times in life, and also of wearing them.

Even with high quality wool yarns, handmade items that are well-loved will likely start to pill over time.  Pilling occurs when small pieces of fiber rub off and form little fuzzy “pills” on the surface of a fabric. I’ve noticed that thicker weight yarns, or more loosely twisted yarns such as handspun, tend to pill a little bit more. Luckily, it’s not hard to take care of some pilling, and removing them does not weaken or form any holes in your knitted item.

There are tons of different options for wool maintenance – to keep things simple, I like to use an old-fashioned sweater stone. This is a natural pumice stone (like the ones used for pedicures) that is used to brush away pills.

The sweater stone works really well at removing extra fuzz – but be sure to wash the items, too. My sweater, gloves, and hat were so much smoother after a round of washing and blocking. For handknit items, I use the ‘handwash’ setting on my washing machine with cold water and a natural fiber shampoo.

Then, it’s time to re-block everything by laying it flat to dry. If anything has gotten a bit stretched out or misshapen, blocking will magically reshape it and make it seem like new. It’s amazing how washing really brings wool back to life.

I was especially amazed by the before-and-after difference in this sweater – I hadn’t realized how worn it was looking!

Of course, once you’re finished giving your old favorites some TLC, it’s even more fun to get excited about new projects for the season. Happy crafting!

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