Caring for your handmade items
All of our yarns are hand dyed with the majority of fiber content containing animal based fibers. Typically these type of fibers require the most care, however, many of our yarns are superwash, a process that prevents the scales on the fibers from binding and thus felting, which makes caring for your items a bit simpler. We know how much you have invested in your handmade item(s) and we want you and the receivers of your lovely gifts to know how to care and store your heirloom items so they can be shared and treasured for years to come.
- Please review the label on your yarn. We have stated on the labels the content of the yarn and the recommended washing for that yarn type.
- If you plan on doing any colorwork, especially if you are working with light and dark colors, or your item is a gift, we always recommend you give our yarns a wash prior to starting your project. Your yarn will come with 3 very loose ties. You will not need to add any more. Fully soak your yarn in tepid water and a wool detergent, we like Kookaburra. Let your yarn soak for 5-10 minutes. After that time, check the water. It should be clear or mostly clear. If it is not, do not fret, your yarn is not bleeding out any color from the fiber. The residual dye is dye that did not bond in the dyeing process, this is common especially for red and turquoise pigments. (Think red towel accidentally thrown in the wash and everything comes out pink.) Pull your yarn out by one of the ties. Rinse your yarn in tepid water, and repeat the soak and rinse cycle until the water runs almost clear to clear. Do not wring your yarn out. Gently squeeze the excess water from yarn. Wrap in a towel, like a sausage, and apply pressure on it to get most of the water out. Air dry your yarn. Laundry drying racks are a nice option as long as the rack is made of stainless steel or plastic. We add an acid to our dyeing process and this can rust some materials and thus stain your yarn. Lay it over the top of the rack so the yarn lays flat. If the color of the rinsed water never lessens, please contact us. There is a lot of information on the web regarding setting your color in the microwave. If you have done this before with success, don't let us stop you. However, we, at Swift, aren't fond of the microwave method only because every microwave is different and it is possible to burn your yarn.
- Washing your finished project depends on the type of yarn you have purchased. Most woolen items do not require washing after every wear. A spot clean for maintenance and a wash every 2 weeks is sufficient. We always recommend hand washing all your items, but we understand that it is not always practical, especially gifts to expectant mothers. (They will have enough to do.) Machine washing is deterred because it is extremely aggressive on the fiber. You will likely have pilling. Color fading and bleeding colors are also possible. Another concern is if the knitted item(s) are put into the laundry basket, anyone can do the wash and may throw your knits in the wrong temperature and setting. That being said, superwash yarns can be machine washed. Items that have multiple fiber contents with a majority being superwash can be machine washed also. Wash in cold (never warm or hot) with a wool detergent and use a gentle or hand wash cycle with like colors only. If your item's fiber content is not superwash, it must be hand washed at all times. Wash in cool water with your wool detergent and gently rinse. Do not let your item sit for an extended period in the water, some of the dye particles may break up and cause excess bleeding. 10 minutes will suffice. If you are using Kookaburra or Eucalan, you will not need to rinse as it is not require. Do not machine dry your finished item. Simply roll your item in a towel, apply pressure to squeeze out excess water and air dry flat. Do not hang dry as it will stretch and droop.
- If you have done a gauge swatch, test it's washability first before moving to the finished item.
- Keep in mind that your hand knits are delicate items made with natural fibers. Never use bleach or any harsh detergents, or place them in harsh environments to clean. They should always be treated lovingly.
- Some items benefit from a good blocking. This can be done with wires and foam mats or sometimes just arranging the knit on a towel when it is drying is sufficient. Rinse your item in your wool detergent in tepid to cool water. Roll your item in a clean, dry towel and apply pressure to squeeze excess water. Do not wring. Then arrange to your desired shape and measurements.
- This is a good time to talk about color bleeding, a dyer's nightmare. We wish it could be totally preventable, but the chemistry of some of the dyes makes that impossible. Certain pigments, especially the reds as said earlier, don't completely bond and the excess gets drained off. Your rinse water should be fairly clear. See images below. The darker the color of the yarn the more to be expected in your rinse water. Keep rinsing until it gets to around the shades below. Your rinse water should get clearer and clearer with every rinsing. Dyes do not adhere to fibers unless they have heat. Keeping your water temperature on the cool side will keep your multicolored finished project from being more multicolored than you expected.
- Color fading is also a symptom of certain dye colors. Fluorescents, neons, bright reds, greens, blues, purples, pinks, peaches and blacks are all known to be faders. And just because your item does not have one of these colors, does not mean that the dye color didn't contain a trace amount in it to create your item's color. Hand washing is always best with all your delicates.
- Once your item has dried it is best to not hang. If you decide to hang, use a nice padded satin covered hanger. Otherwise fold and store.
- If you want to store your heirloom knits long term, clean and dry them thoroughly and store them in sealable plastic bags. Add a couple of drops of essential oil like lavender, sage or rosemary onto a cotton ball and put it in the bag with your knits to keep moths away. Or use a wool detergent that has essential oils in the formula. Eucalan has one that contains lavender and Kookaburra has one with tea tree oil. When storing it may be handy to throw in a couple of small balls of the yarns you had used for the items for future mending.