Much worn, much loved

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve washed a handknit. That is, washed after the initial blocking. Many of my projects find their homes away from me, sweaters are worn on top of underlayers, hats don’t really get dirty, and neither do house socks when you’re careful to shuffle around in slippers, shawls… I’m not sure they’ve seen the light of day since the FO photoshoot!

Ah, solitude and peacefulness permeate the closet of a process knitter.

Only one accessory gets to see the outside world on a regular basis. And, boy, does it ever! The use and abuse my scarves get make up for the pristine dormancy of all my sweaters, socks, and shawls combined! Stuffed into my backpack, crumpled into my hand as I run to catch the bus, ends hastily tossed over my shoulders so they don’t end up in my bowl of soup, on the floor in a good number of fine dining establishments all across Boston, tightly wrapped around my mouth and nose on chilly mornings…

My scarves are filthy.

I have lovingly worn the Lace Leaf Scarf (spring/summer 2005 VK) for more than two years now. It is truly one of my favorite, most frequently-used handknit items, even if I didn’t knit it myself (Polly knit this one for me).

It’s something about the content of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, and/or the way the fibers are spun and plied – this is the only wooly yarn to date that I’ve been able to wear next to my bare skin. So, naturally, when I want a little warmth and softness around my neck, this is the scarf I grab.

As of yesterday afternoon this scarf had a few mysterious stains and, frankly, reeked of bad breath. I sent it down a strange and poorly-traveled path – washing after blocking. Cue ominous music, tum tum duuum!

For this particular yarn, I tossed the scarf into the washing machine with my darks – cold cycle, normal agitation. True to its word, DB Cashmerino is superwash and nothing bad happened to the knit fabric (unlike some other “superwash wools” we know, mmmhmmm). I didn’t want to tempt my fate with the dryer, so I laid the scarf flat and gently nudged the fabric into shape with my fingers. This morning my scarf was as good as new!

I often wonder about “washing after blocking” generally speaking. I think for the most part it’s simply re-blocking. For my sweaters, store-bought and hand-knit alike, the item is washed, reshaped into the familiar sweater form on a flat surface, and left to dry. That’s like a simplified blocking – no excessive tugging into shape, no smoothing cables and cajoling colorwork into perfection, no pressing of the seams, etc. For accessories, the process is the same.

I’ve never had to wash a shawl, but I have helped my mom (over the phone) when she had to wash her Leaf Lace Shawl. Because the shawl had already been blocked severely, the lacework remained largely open and the scarf didn’t shrink back to its pre-blocking size when the yarn was dipped into water. I instructed my mom to pin it out, making sure the top edge remained straight and shaping the scalloped edge to its desired spikiness. Apparently this got the shawl back to its blocked glory (until my mom lost the shawl all together, but that’s a story for another day).

I leave you with these two questions:

What is your most frequently worn handknit item?

Have you had to wash it? How did you do it?

77 thoughts on “Much worn, much loved

  1. Nessa

    My most frequently used handknit item is the Garden Path Shawl from Elann. I use it as a lap blanket on my chair, so it gets used almost daily.

    I have washed it a few times, because of things like spilled chocolate milk or the kids granola bar crumbs.

    I soak it in baby wash and then pin it out with blocking wires to dry. It actually only takes a day or two to dry and is as good as new!

    It is made of 100% alpaca so it is also extremely stretchy.

  2. samantha

    I wear all the socks I’ve made for myself regularly (damn new england winters), and wash them in the washermachine – but dry them on a rack – because the dryer kills them. My boyfriend’s socks can attest to that!

  3. Camille

    I’d say socks. They get washed once a week. Regia goes in the machine and dryer. Everything else gets a 15 minute soak in a huge bowl of water and Soak. The Jitterbug socks get washed last (they bleed like no bodies business, even a year’s worth of weekly washings later). Everything gets laid flat to dry.

  4. Claire

    Ah, like you I’ve managed to carefully avoid having to wash my handknits too much so far. Largely because, I’m afraid to wear the socks (they may get holes, oh no!) and hats, well, who cares? But for most of my knits, well I tend to prefer to build something of a shrine to them rather than wear them. I’m trying to get over this. Really.

  5. Katie B.

    Beyond all my socks – which get worn year-round except for the height of summer two days in a row tops and then machine washed delicate with regular laundry soap (I use Arm & Hammer), hung over the bar of a hanger to dry, which generally takes 2-3 days depending on my Oregon weather – oh, and assorted scarves, none of which have ever touched water other than rain, because I’m a bad monkey and rarely block – my most worn handknit is my very first sweater (how’s that for a run-on sentence for ya!). It’s hyooge and comfy, and I’ve had it finished about 4 1/2 years now. I try to wash it about yearly, in the spring when I think I can put it away until fall – I missed this spring, though. Last time I think I machine washed it on delicate, and laid it flat to dry, attempting to not stretch its monkey arms out even longer than they already are. The washing is more on principle than anything else, because for all the things that get spilled on it, it doesn’t ever seem to get particularly dirty.

  6. Marisa

    Besides socks?? (Which just get tossed into the washing machine on regular cycle, cold water, with the rest of the clothes and then line dried.)

    I’ve washed a Kureyon sweater many a time (bathroom sink, soak or eucalan) and then lay it out to dry just as you mentioned before (tug it into shape a bit, and lay flat to dry).

    I accidentally slightly fulled my Clapotis in the washing machine (was trying out the “rinse/spin” feature, which has more agitation than one would think, for a front loader).

  7. Danielle

    My socks get the most washing. All of them go in the gentle cycle in the machine, including ones that are made of yarn that says “handwash” on the label. (None are any the worse for the wear.) Then, they all get hung up to dry.

    This is how I wash pretty much all of my knits, no matter what they are made of. I think that the dryer tends to age the yarns prematurely, no matter what they are made of, so all sweaters, accessories, etc. get hung dried or laid flat on a drying rack.

  8. Kim U

    I think my most worn items are my fetching fingerless gloves in Artyarns Supermerino. I’ve had to wash them a couple times (being gloves, they get into a lot of dirt by accident), but I’ve generally just done a handwash and then lightly pull them into shape to let them dry.

  9. alice

    Socks get washed regularly, of course, and line dried (unless I mess up and one escapes into the dryer). Winter sweaters, once a year, except in cases of spillage. They go in the washer on gentle/cold, with a bit of shampoo, get an extra spin cycle, and are laid flat to dry.

  10. Sarah

    I wear my Vintage Velvet scarf and my favorite pair of handknit socks pretty regularly, but to be honest I think I’ve washed the sweater I knit for my husband more than either of those! It’s Kureyon (NOT superwash, obviously) but I throw it in the washer anyway — on cold, for just the rinse and spin part of the cycle, and then it’s able to flat-dry pretty quickly.

  11. ann

    it’s so timely that you post this… tonight I am pulling out all the handknit scarves and giving them a good dunk in eucalan and then repinning them out. bonus, they’ll smell like lavender for a while!

    But as for my sweaters, I also handwash them and lay them out flat on a drying rack. I know that at least a couple of them claim that they can be machine washed, but to me, it’s not too much trouble to handwash a sweater here and there.

  12. Rebekkah

    Mine is my Braid and Bobble hat. (The Fibertrends pattern.) The yarn is perfect, the fit is perfect, and the pattern (with toned down bobbles) is beautiful. I wear it indoors and out, because we keep the house relatively cool in the winter. When it seems to need a washing, I do it with my regular sock wash — soak in cold water and wool wash in the washing machine, spin cycle, and air dry. The hat goes on my nifty 25 cent styrofoam head. Super easy. It once ended up in the regular wash, but lucky me, I am thrifty and tend to use cold water for that. It came out unscathed, though smelling of the wrong cleanser.

  13. maryse

    i don’t wash my handknits very often but when i do, i mostly handwash them in eucalan and lie flat to dry. i’ll spot clean too if there’s a spot. i also handwash my socks but i don’t wear my knit socks very often. my husband does the laundry sometimes and i don’t trust him to remember to not put the socks in the dryer. ;)

  14. Cassandra

    I wear my fetching mitts (Debby bliss cashmerino aran) (knitty summer 06) and matching scarf (debby bliss baby casshmerino) almost constantly from sept-dec. I hand wash with Method free and clear detergent and add a teensy bit of softener into the final rinse. The scarf is always laid flat to dry but I admit that I’ve thrown the mitts into the dryer on occasion to speed up the drying process. Not only have they held up w/ no pilling, but they get softer every wash.

    I find my hand-knits to be more resilient than expected!

  15. Suna

    I tend to wash socks in a big bunch, on gentle, then hang them. I have LOTS of socks, so sock wash day isn’t that often. (A person with over 100 balls of sock yarn in stash had BETTER knit a lot of socks.)

    My most worn other item is cashmere fingerless gloves, from the Not Just Socks pattern. I have never washed them (eeek!) but soak them if anything gets on them. I weare them a lot to type in frigid offices.

    For clothing, my poor Juliet top, which is in off-white Rialto (wool) keeps getting spilled on. I have to be pretty careful reblocking it or it really stretches out. I do love to wear it. YES, I am finally wearing things I knitted, only during the past couple of years–prior to that, I had shrines.

    In Texas, scarves are decorative accessories, so they don’t get washed much. And so far I have managed to not mess up a shawl enough to need washing. I do wear mine, though–frigid offices are prime candidates for showing off shawls.

  16. Greeley

    I wash my socks 1xweek. 15 minute soak in a bucket and hung in the bathroom to dry. My sweaters I wash after a few times worn, using the same method but flat to dry.

  17. Bether

    I wear my handknit socks (4 or 5 pairs) all the time. I wash them in the washer on cold and then toss ‘em over a rail on my drying rack.

    I haven’t really knit much else for myself. Everything ends up going to someone else.

  18. Seanna Lea

    I wash my socks in the washing machine, but I always get pretty nervous. They’ve also seen the inside of the dryer.

    I have a few other knits that have been washed, usually once a year (though some of the sweaters get more frequent washings). I don’t have a great place to lie them out, so I don’t wash them frequently. Those usually are washed by hand and then laid out to dry in a semi-blocked state much like what you described.

  19. Mary K. in Rockport

    My first ever handknit socks, one of the few things I’ve made for myself, get worn a lot. I used to hand wash them and line dry, but bit by bit I got careless. First I started putting them in the washer and now even in the dryer. They are just fine although wearing thin which is fixable, I think. My husband’s hats get worn and washed a lot, but they are hand washed and dried over a mixing bowl.

  20. √úhltje

    Hubby’s and my socks are definately worn very often and I just toss them in the washing machine. After that, my shawls and I do have not washed them as such. Just the initial blocking. Would handwash and block if they need it.

  21. Meredith

    1)Wear most often? That would be my go-to shawl, Myrna Stahman’s “Catherine,” which I knitted in some natural white more-or-less fingering weight cormo I spun myself about 10 years ago. This winter it is living in my living room instead of my office…I’ve substituted a newer, darker colored, less pilly shawl as my at-work shawl this year.

    2)Washed it? You bet…medium warm (nearly hot) water with Eucalan. And yes, it requires reblocking, so I don’t wash it until it gets rather grubby. (My mother taught me well; she told me that there’s ALWAYS something more interesting to do than housework…I’m clearly her daughter.)

  22. Jenn

    I wear my hand knits all the time – mostly winter accessories and socks. When my knits are new, and I’m still still thrilled to bits with them, I handwash with eucolan or, if I’m out, shampoo and dry flat. Once they get a little older, I chance it in the delicate cycle in the washer.

  23. Jess

    Socks and soakers around here. I toss them all weekly into the washing machine (front loader) with some wool wash on the hand wash cycle, cold, and walk away. Then I come back and lay everything out flat on sweater dryers. I don’t trust the dryer. I’ve found that superwash will over time, start felting slowly. Best to just avoid the dryer.

  24. Amy

    Socks. Superwash. Right in the washer and dryer with the regular clothes. So far, so good. I also have mittens that are fairly frequently worn, and actually get dirtier (at least dirtier looking) than my socks. Those I handwash because they are not superwash wool. I do pretty much what you do with your sweaters.

  25. Kaitie Tee

    My favorite handknits are my Anemoi Mittens. I’ve had to wash them twice. Each time I give them a soak in my bathroom sink with a bit of lavender baby shampoo. Then I lay them out to dry and they’re good as new.

  26. yaiAnn

    Do socks count? ;) Most worn aside from socks that get the soak treatment would be my scarves, but I haven’t washed any of those since I’ve made them. So, thanks for the reminder!

  27. Nancy

    My handknit socks get the most wear and regular washing. I wash them in the machine, with cold water, on the “sweater” setting. I lay they out flat to dry. No problems. Most of them are wool/nylon blend and could go in the dryer, but I normally don’t do that on purpose. I also have one sweater made out of the same type of sock yarn, and it gets the same treatment, but less frequently.

  28. Cindy in Oregon

    Socks, definitely. Aside from when I’m working, which required plain, black socks, I wear my handknit socks. Much cozier! For washing, they get tossed into the wash with lights or darks according to their color and run through on the cold cycle. They are then dried flat. I only dry socks on my sock blockers when they will be given as a gift.

  29. Julia

    My most frequently worn handknit is worn by Moxie – the hat that I made for him three years ago. I steal it from him a few times a season to wash it. I re-block most of my handknits. The only exception I can think of is socks. I turn those inside out and toss them in the washer. I’ve done this with koigu. No problems yet!

  30. Dove

    My Fir Cone Lace shawl is hands-down my most often-worn knit. (Btw, if you click on the link, please scroll down and ready the gripping story of how this shawl came to be; it’ll help you understand just why I love this rather plain little shawl so much. It’s a very sad beginning, indeed, but with a very happy ending.) I wear it as a scarf sometimes, but more often I wear it at work as a cardigan. Because it lives at work, and is usually worn over other clothing, I haven’t washed it yet. It’s due for a wash, though, and I’m wondering how severely I’ll need to reblock it, so I’m glad to see this post. I guess I’ll let the lace tell me just what it wants to happen, eh?

    Socks are also often worn and washed in my house, but I never block them. Not initially, not thereafter. I handwash all handknit socks, even the ones that are supposed to be machine-washable, in Pert Plus with conditioner, and they come out lovely. Same for my sweater, which fits better after repeated washing.

  31. KristenJ

    I wear handknit socks every day of my life, and I wash them all after only one wearing. Because, yuk. And we have a huge, hairy, shedding dog and I scuff around on splintery hardwood floors. Thus, my socks are mostly felted and scuzzy. I also wash my sweaters regularly (after two or maybe three wearings) and they, likewise, are a pilled-up mess. Maybe I should relax my laundry standards? I love them all, though. I treat them like real clothes, of which I feel quite sure they approve.

  32. Adriana

    My Clapotis. I wear it pretty much from November until April. It gets washed once or twice a year depending on how bored I get. It doesn’t need much blocking which is good because it’s HUGE!

  33. mari

    My most worn sweater is Klaralund made with Silk Garden. I’ve only washed it in Eucalan and dried it flat, and it’s held up super well. I wash my sweaters when they are dirty and then do a mass washing in the summer so they are ready for winter!

  34. Cirilia

    I have a little spray bottle of Soak Wash (the limited edition scent is amazing) with water, it’s no-rinse and I use it like Febreeze to freshen the hand knits. It’s lazy but easier than wrestling with a full wet-blocking (you’re right, that’s what “washing” is).

  35. Cara

    I’ve never washed any of my sweaters – and I do wash my socks every now and again. The one thing I’ve washed and re-blocked is my beaded diamond fantasy shawl. I love it when the points are super crisp and it’s all huge and blocked out. So everytime I’ve worn it to something important I’ve taken the time to reblock it – which means pinning it out and everything. It’s always been worth it.

    Your scarf is lovely – I’m glad it’s washed well.

  36. Sarah

    Oh, definitely my socks. I wear handknit socks every day (if I can) during the winter, so I accumulate quite a pile of them in the course of the week. Usually I wait until I have a sinkful of socks, give them a good soak in some lukewarm water with a splash of Dawn, squeeze them out gently, and then lay them flat to dry on some old towels.

  37. Wanda

    I regularly wash my handknits. I love wearing sweaters and depending on how much wear a handknit sweater gets, I may wash it a couple of times during the winter. I usually put my wool wash of choice in the washer and let the sweaters soak for 20-30 minutes and rinse out the water, let the sweaters soak a second time and then spin out the water and lay them flat to dry. I like to give them an end-of-season (heading into spring/summer) laundering, so they are nice and fresh for the following winter.

    My scarves/hats/accessories, I tend to wash either at the beginning of the season or once during the winter to maintain cleanliness.

    Socks are worn almost year-long, sometimes even in summer (in a cold office) and are washed gentle cycle in the washer. If the socks are superwash (i.e. Trekking, Opal, Regia), they go into the dryer as well. If not, they get laid out flat to dry.

    I don’t have too many shawls currently, but I imagine when they do need a washing, depending on the shawl, it may also require reblocking.

  38. yuvee

    You just reminded me that my Backyard Leaves scarf needs some good re-blocking! And that I have some DB Baby Cash perfect for scarves ;)

  39. Cathy-Cate

    I have a mohair scarf in rainbow shades that I love unreasonably for its cheerful colors in dark winter. I have not yet washed it, but like your favorite, it is in need of it. Especially because it’s stretched out and would benefit from reblocking.

  40. Brenda

    I wear my socks and my sweaters often. All of the socks are superwash so it’s into the machine for them (no dryer though, I’m with you on not pushing my luck). All of my sweaters (and the ones I knit for my husband) are 100% wool and I put them in the machine on cold on the gentle cycle. I hover over the machine and worry the whole time. Then I pull them out, reshape them, and lay them all out on towels to dry. I’ve had great luck with this method and haven’t accidentally shrunk one sweater. There is the one sweater that my mother put in with the regular darks in warm water once… but that is definitely a felting tale that doesn’t have a happy ending.

  41. anne

    My very first (second pair is on the needles) pair of socks. I wash them in the sink with Seventh Generation lavender dish liquid, because I love the way it smells (and it is not derived from petroleum products! No, I don’t work for Seventh Generation! ;) ).

  42. grannypurple

    Well, socks always go into the machine, then hang to dry. Lost one alpaca pair to massive felting in the first wash, but even non-superwash merino can endure 20-30 washings before it begins to felt. I also have a Koigu turtleneck which I machine wash, and I even finish it in the dryer when it is almost dry. It tends to stretch in wearing, so this brings it back more or less to size!

  43. Sally

    My Denmark socks (Knitting on the Road) in Toasty Toes. I haven’t washed them yet, I am keeping them clean and I am treating them nicely. I’ll probably hand wash them eventually.

  44. Mrs. Hipp

    I most often wear my first pair of handknit socks–Regia Crazy Color 6-ply. They end up getting washed every other week! A little Eucalan (lavender scented) and some sock blockers make it very quick and easy. I’ve also had to use a pill shaver on them one or twice, but they still look great!

  45. Tracy

    I’ve got a green cardigan I wear a lot at home, except in mid-summer when it’s too hot. I just toss it in the washer & dryer, it’s 100% acrylic. It’s over a decade old, I reknit the cuffs a few months ago because they’d gotten really frayed. It’s pilled & snagged over time, but I wear it for comfort, not looks.

  46. karla (threadbndr)

    Socks are certainly the most washed. I handwash each pair as I wear them and dry them on sock blockers.

    For sweaters, I hand wash them and dry them on a screen rack over the tub. Hats and scarves, too.

    I do reblock scarves and shawls. It’s not that big of a hassle.

  47. Angie

    I have a giant shawl of reversible cables in black raspberry merino and fur. I have knit a few for baby blankets, too.

    This one goes with me to the rink to watch my daughter figure skate. I sit on it, wrap myself in it and even tent it over my hands while I knit in the cold.

    I guess I’d better wash it soon.

  48. Karen S

    Well that one is easy! My most used hand-knits are SOCKS!!!!! And I never knit socks that cannot be washed in a machine, so very easy indeed!

  49. clare

    My socks! I hand wash them about once a week (had a bad experience of socks+washing machine=major shrinkage). The item I wear most often is my lambswool Ene’s scarf, which I’ve washed once (after – eek – it got covered in beer at a party…) in exactly the same way as I blocked it (soaked in water with a little baby shampoo, and pinned out on a blocking board with taut sock yarn enforcing the straight lines).

  50. Anna

    I wear my handknit socks the most. I just throw them in the wash on cold, gentle cycle, then lay them out to dry. I will admit that I’m scared every time they are thrown in the washer, even though I know they’ll end up fine!

  51. Tsuki

    Argh! Just had a panic reading this because I thought my dear boyfriend had tumble-dried our “pink” load (which has my handknit socks in).

    I just called him. It’s fine. They’re hanging on the drying rack a couple of inches from a radiator. phew!

    I’ve only worn those and my shrug, which is yet to be washed, but since I didn’t block it in the first place it would benefit from “re”blocking!

  52. Mary K. in Rockport

    I forgot (2nd comment.) My very most used item is a felted shoulder bag. It gets heavy daily use from October until spring, and is chockablock full. It’s about 7 years old and is still sturdy; it gets washed in the machine in the spring before summer storage, and that washing restores its somewhat-stretched-out shape.

  53. claudia

    My 30+ pairs of socks. In the washing machine, with no extra love nor care. Draped over a chair to dry.

    I do wash sweaters occasionally. Also in the washing machine, soak, but no agitation just a spin out. I lay them flat to dry, but I can’t say that I’m careful about re-blocking them.

  54. Sara A-G

    I’ve never commented before, but I’ve been reading for awhile and always appreciate your thoughts and photos.

    I have a question to raise: how many people finish knitting something, and then immediately start wearing it, without blocking or washing? I do.

    My favorite knitted item to wear (this season, at least) is my white lace scarf – pattern from the book Alterknits. It goes with everything and matches every coat I own. I’m dreading washing it, because I so desperately want to keep the original fabric’s feel.

  55. Elinor

    I wear my handknit socks the most, I think. I wear them a bunch of times before I wash them, though, and usually they get worn in bed when my toes are cold. I was them in the washing machine, on cold, in a mesh bag, and I lay them on the ironing board to dry. I only have one handknit sweater, and I don’t think I’ve washed it yet.

  56. Nicole

    Most frequently used? Hats. There’s a grey one that I wore everyday, twice a day last winter and a green one that I wore most of last fall and part of this fall. They have been washed using SOAK and laid out to dry. No blocking needed – phew!

    A new red one joins their ranks this year as my new favorite. It is likely that washing will be handled the same way.

    Most of what I knit is with machine washable yarn and almost never anything that needs to be blocked.

  57. Rippedoffknitter

    Besides mittens (which are machine washed on wool cycle) and socks (machine washed) the item I wear the most is a modified version of the Tubey sweater from Knitty. It is knit from Drops Alpakka and worn almost weekly and I hand wash it in lukewarm water and let it dry flat on a towel. It is now getting fuzzier (a halo sort of) guess it is a sign of wear. I will most certainly knit a new one when it is dead!

  58. laura

    Once the weather turns, I’m often wearing 2-4 handknits a day! A sweater, socks, some form of scarf, mittens. Oh, and maybe a hat. So I’ve got a lot of knit laundry to do! Most socks just go in the machine with everything else (including the dryer); I try to wash sweaters every couple of wears.

    I’m doing a “hand wash” (soak in the machine with Eucalan and spun out) right now of 4 sweaters, 2 pairs of socks, a scarf, and legwarmers. I’ve still got more laundry to do, but only one drying rack!

  59. Serenknitity

    I handwash my socks lovingly, using shampoo, and dry them on a towel rail over the bath. I do my Fetching mittens the same way. I’m with Sara A-G on not blocking when it comes to small things like hats, socks and mittens, they go straight on, unless they are gifts, when I take a bit of time so they look extra pretty.

  60. Michelle

    My socks. The superwash ones go in the washer and dryer with all my other clothes, and the non-superwash get machine washed cold, and thrown over a chair back to dry. I pick/spin my yarns to last forever. If a sweater falls apart after a few washings, then what was the point of making it? I’m a big process knitter, but I’ve always expected my clothes to last me for years and years. Why should I think differently about my handknits?

  61. Cassandra

    winter hats. I’m super attached to a simple pattern from “Last Minute Knitted Gifts” so when my hat gets all funkified instead of washing I just make another!

    However, I’m tight on time this year so I will probably break down and wash the hat stack with ‘wool light’ by hand (it’s Manos, so felting is a concern).

  62. courtney

    My most worn is my Mesilla from Knitty. I wear it constantly, and actually do kinda re-block it when I wash it. It’s nice though, cause then it’s always like new.

  63. Amy

    Socks probably get the most frequent wear per item, and I just throw them in the wash (cold) with my other clothes and hang them on the back of a dining room chair to dry. Boldly, I’ve even done this with Koigu (which claims not to be superwash) and it’s fine.

    My sweaters get a lot of wearing and washing, too. They get hand-washed in Soak and reshaped, laid flat to dry just like my store-bought sweaters.

    I haven’t had to wash a shawl yet, even though I wear them. I’m kind of afraid, honestly.

  64. Misty the Kneedler

    Aside from socks, which end up going through the wash (and very often the dryer, too) I most frequently wash a turtleneck made out of a hand-dyed multi-coloured cotton yarn that I knit several years ago. It was intended to be a “wear with everything and anything” sort of sweater and it has lived up to its billing so it gets worn frequently. I have a “hand wash” cycle on my washing machine which agitiates only a couple of turns before spending most of the cycle letting garments soak. Once it has gone through the spin cycle it gets spread out on top of my dryer, where the gentle warmth radiating out of the top speeds up the inevitablely slow drying time for cotton. In a pinch it has gone through the dryer too, but I prefer not to do that unless really pressed for time.

  65. Heide

    I love my Ribby Cardi and it’s been worn quite often during this past spring and fall. To wash it I just… wait a minute. I’ve never washed this other than the initial Eucalen blocking session. Yikes! Guess what I’m going to do tomorrow.

  66. Suzanne V. (Yarnhog)

    Oh, I wash my handknits all the time–especially the ones I knit for my boys. My most frequently washed is a Noro Silk Garden pullover that I wear as a sweatshirt. I soak it in warm water with Eucalan, then put it in the washer for a spin, and then…I put it in the dryer. On low. For about 30 minutes. Don’t shoot me. It works just fine–in fact, it fluffs up the fabric and makes it softer, and it doesn’t shrink, although I wouldn’t mind if it did, since the sweater is pretty oversized. I find a lot of yarns can be machine dried, although I generally wash them by hand to avoid felting, pilling, snagging, etc. If the piece really needs blocking, I dry it most of the way, then take it out of the dryer, pat it into shape on a flat surface, and let it finish drying that way. When necessary–not often–I steam block after washing.

  67. Lotta

    Hmm… I’d say all the socks and a couple of sweaters. And with two kids and two dogs, and consequently not so clean floors, well you can probably guess that yes, my clothes do need washing quite often! Socks after maybe two to three evenings of wear (I usually put them on when I get home from work), sweaters after they start looking like they are in need of a little refreshing bath. The socks get washed in the washer, sweater in the washer or by hand, depending on superwash factor.

  68. mazhalai

    definately my socks. the only pair i have hand knit so far, which happens to be jaywalkers. I handwash them in the sink and I cant wait to make my next pair of socks. Only if this semester went any faster!!

  69. hat

    The sheepsdown sweater in the Knitters Almanac that I knitted for my husband last year from Garthenor Organic Wool was worn almost every day last winter. It was released to me to be handwashed in Woolite, spun and dried flat. I seem to wash my handknits (of which I have many!) more often than most and I do so successfully in my Miele washing machine on the wool wash programme at 30.

  70. ames

    I wash socks regularly because I walk in them every day and I don’t know – worn socks just need washing. They get tossed in the dryer, and so far I haven’t had a problem. A little felting at the heel flap, but I don’t mind that. Sweaters I’ll wear a couple of times, but then I feel like they’re stretched out and shapeless, whether they are or not. I’ll soak and block, but I have at times decided they needed more oomph than soaking gives them. Commuter dirt, you know. So they’ll go in the washer, delicate and cold (when I can – I wash at a laundromat so it’s not like I have a lot of options) and rush them home to lay out.

  71. Viktoria

    my handknit socks. I wear them every day. I also wear gloves, hats, scarves and sweaters all the time now that it’s cold… but the socks still get the most use. I wash them in the sink and hang them on the heater to dry if I don’t have time to wait around for the washing machine.

  72. Johanna

    I’ll answer this one for baby Kaya… her wool soakers (diaper covers). These get washed once a month. I fill up the sink with cool water and add melted lanolin and baby shampoo. Let it sit for 20 mins or so… squeeze out and hang to dry. I’m sure that’s not too typical of washing most handknits though!

    Our second most frequent washed handknit is socks. All superwash socks I throw into a mesh laundry bag and wash with my regular laundry (cold water) and then hang to dry.

    PS As for the sweaters, wait until you have a little one around, they will get washed a lot too!

  73. jen g

    I’m another knitter wearing and washing socks. They go in the machine with cold water and Woolite on the gentle cycle. So far no tragedies.

    Your beautiful leaf scarf is actually what inspired me to write. I was thinking I’d like to make it and found that the pattern calls for it to be seamed in the middle. I guess that’s to keep the leaves properly oriented. Was yours done that way? If so was the result worth it?

    By the way kudos to Polly! Her tighter gage is absolutely what this pattern needed (IMHO). I wouldn’t look twice at it as knit for the VK photo!

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