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How to care for knitted garments

Knitted garments are wonderful at keeping you warm during the colder seasons, but without proper and care and maintenance of knitted fabrics, the fibers may weaken, damaging the garment. Whether you have handcrafted the item yourself or purchased the garment ready-made, knowing how to take care of knitwear will expand the lifespan as well as the look of the garment. Once you understand how to care for knitted items, you will most likely be more willing to try making new knitted projects and if you sell or give your knitted projects as gifts, you can confidently include proper care instructions. Here is some brief information about knitted items and how to care for them.

Check the Yarn Label

The most critical factor when it comes to the care and maintenance of knitted fabrics is to carefully read the yarn label. It’s common to simply toss the paper ring around the yarn, but it’s better to keep it because it has important information about the yarn. The instructions for how to take care of knitwear are actually written on the label, by the manufacturer of the yarn. Each of the symbols on the yarn label has a specific meaning, so take the time to get to know what they mean, it will make caring for your finishing project easier.

Hand Washing Knitted Garments

A new knitted project should be washed by itself for the first time, especially something that is brighter colored. It often takes a few washings for the color to completely set, so washing new items by themselves will prevent other items from being ruined if the color runs. When handwashing, be careful to not over agitate knitted garments; it may cause them to stretch if too much pressure is used. Do not wring out knitted garments as it can cause damage to the garment, including stretching or felting. Always use a mild laundry detergent when washing knits by hand. After washing and rinsing your garment, roll it in a towel to soak up the excess water and quicker drying.

Machine Washing

Machine washing knitted is done similar to washing other fabrics, except you always use the gentle cycle. Before washing in a machine it’s important to remember to read the label. Certain yarns cannot be washed in the machine, so reading the label beforehand will help prevent damage. Using a mesh laundry bag to hold knitted items while in the washing machine will prevent over-agitation and reduce the risk of snagging on other items in the washer. Just like handwashing, new items should be washed separately in the washing machine. Always use cold water and never tumble dry unless the label says it’s safe to do so.

Washing Different Yarn Fibers

There are many types of yarn, each with different drapes, and textures. Knowing how to pick the yarn you’ll use for each knitting project is a large task, but when choosing the yarn, it’s also important to think about the care and maintenance of knitted fabrics once they are completed. Yarn is made from three primary types of fibers, synthetic, protein, and plant. Synthetic fibers are manmade, while plant and protein fibers are natural. Some things to keep in mind when washing different fibers include:

  • Synthetic fibers-Synthetic fibers include rayon, acrylic, and polyester. Each of these types of yarn can generally be machine washed and machine dried because they typically don’t shrink.
  • Protein fibers-Yarn made from protein fibers comes from animal hair, such as cashmere, alpaca, or wool. Protein yarn fibers should never be machine washed or tumbled dried. The agitation can cause the yarn to felt and or shrink. Protein fiber yarns should be hand washed in cold water and laid flat to dry.
  • Plant fibers-Yarn made from plant fibers includes linen, cotton, and silk. It is extremely important that you read the label for these types of fibers, because they generally have different washing instructions, but they can often be machine washed. For instance, cotton yarn is a durable fiber, so it can handle agitation and tumble drying.

Blocking Knitwear

When learning how to take care of knitted clothes, one of the most important things you’ll learn is blocking. Once your knitted item has been washed, you will probably need to block the item to help it return to its original shape. There are three different ways to block knitted items: wet blocking, steam blocking, or spray blocking. Be sure to review the different blocking processes, so you can choose which options are the best for your needs.

Remember to include care instructions with knitted gifts. Also, consider softening your yarn by washing the item. Each time knitted items are washed they become softer; however, there are some tricks you can utilize for softening sooner, such as soaking the item in a hair conditioner or vinegar. When storing knitted clothing, make sure they are cleaned before storing it and place in a safe, dry place.

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