When I was little, my mom would wash all the wool sweaters by hand at the end of winter. When they were clean, she’d roll them in a towel to squeeze out the excess water, (she had special sweater washing towels, they were the old ones) and then she’d spread them on the dining room table to dry flat. I remember she had a sweater that I loved–a ski sweater with orange, blue and green stripes. We were chatting about this blocking method tonight at the Savory knitting group. I think I’ll try it with my next finished garment. Martha says when she has a sweater she doesn’t want to block, she just takes it to the dry cleaners–they’ll clean it and then steam it for her. I wonder if dry-cleaning will remove irritants from dyes and fiber processing. I’m guessing not.

Conversation migrated to felting when one knitter mentioned she had made a felted tote from Debbie Stoller’s Stitch n Bitch and the yellow didnt’t felt as well as the other colors (even though yellow was used in the model in the book.) I never knew that lighter colors don’t felt as well–especially white. Apparently, the bleach used to make wool white changes the fiber so it won’t felt. Someone else said that undyed yarns don’t felt as well as dyed ones because the dyes somehow make the yarn better for felting.

All in all a very educational knitting session!

UPDATE Cecily notes that Rio De La Plata has a white yarn that felts well… I’d love to know the chemistry behind all this, anyone?

Savory Knits

3 thoughts on “Savory Knits

  • March 29, 2006 at 2:06 am
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    Rio de la Plata has an unbleached white that felts well.

  • March 29, 2006 at 6:43 am
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    I enjoyed meeting you last night. Great group! Nice blog, too!

  • March 29, 2006 at 8:33 am
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    when the wool is bleached (as many places do in order to get white as opposed to the off-white natural color) it strips the tines off of the wool fibers and smooths them out, making it so when you attempt to felt, there is nothing for it to bind up with because it’s too smooth.

    make sense? that’s actually similar to how superwash wools are created: they use chemicals to either remove the bits that stick off of the wool that cause it to felt or they use chemicals that smooth the bits down, like gel smooths your hair.

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