Knitwear is an Autumn/Winter wardrobe staple. The temperatures begin to dip and we start to look for an extra layer of warmth to stay cosy and keep the Winter chill at bay. However, the more we wear our woollens the more we need to wash them. How do you wash your new luxurious Irish wool jumper and avoid those knitwear mishaps?
At the Connemara Sheep & Wool Centre, we know that caring for wool is actually much easier than you might think. With a little love and care, you’ll get plenty of wear out of your wool cardigan and wool sweater for years to come. Here are a few of our tips and tricks for caring for all your wool garments, from washing to piling, we’ll help you to keep them looking brand new!
Washing your knitwear can be a daunting task. We all heard our fair share of knitwear horror stories of a beloved crew neck going into the wash and never returning the same again. By sticking to these washing instructions your aran sweaters will just like new.
- Set the machine to the wool cycle (no hotter than 30°).
- Use a gentle, specialist wool laundry detergent.
- Add the laundry detergent to the tray, rather than the drum.
- Use a mesh laundry bag for extra delicate pieces.
- Do not overload the machine or use any bleach.
- If in doubt, dissolve detergent in warm water and then add lots of cold water to bring down the temperature and hand wash your garment.
Washing your knitted jumper is only half the battle, make sure your good work doesn’t go to waste when it comes time to put away your knitwear after washing. Follow these simple steps and you won’t go wrong!
- To prevent dropping and misshaping, fold wool garments instead of hanging them.
- Store knits in a cool, dry place, allowing the fabric to breathe, and not too tightly packed.
- Help ward off moths by storing knitwear with lavender or a cedar ball.
The more often you wear and wash your cable knit Irish sweaters the more you may run into the need to solve some common knitwear problems.
Pilling is a common occurrence on knitted fabric where small balls or fluff form on the surface of your garment. This is not due to poor quality as is commonly believed. Bobbles form from friction during the washing cycle or from wear and can be easily removed with a Knitwear Comb.
It’s best to prevent shrinkage in the first place as it is impossible to unshrink wool back to its original size. Always take care to read the care label, wash on a gentle, cool cycle and avoid heat from tumble dryers and irons.
Drying your knitwear correctly is just as important a step as the washing process, follow these simple tips to make sure your jumper or cardigan stays in the same shape as it was before it went to the laundry room.
- While wet remove creases and folds by gently reshaping the garment.
- Let the garment dry flat in a towel, do not hang.
- Allow the garment to air-dry.
- Never tumble dry.
Sometimes damaging your wooly jumper is inevitable and when it does occur the best thing you can do to make sure you keep the damage to a minimum is a technique called darning. Darning is a technique that fills the gap in your garment with new material as opposed to sewing it shut or placing a patch over the hole. Where is a quick guide on how to darn:
- Cut away any threads so you are working with a tidy area.
- Thread your needle with the same yarn as the garment you are repairing.
- Horisonatally apply a running stitch, weaving the yarn in rows along the grain of the fabric and in the reverse direction at the end of each row, this is known as a darning stitch.
- Weave your yarn back through the stitches that you have just created in a similar fashion.
- This process will create a new material over the hole of your woollen garment.
At the Connemara Sheep & Wool Centre we believed in the importance of sustainability and protecting the planet for future generations. Therefore, before you get rid of your old aran wool knit sweaters, try exchanging them with a friend or giving them to a local charity shop. The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second and within a given year, up to 85% of all textiles will head to the landfill, to put it in context, that is enough to fill Sydney Harbor annually!
Now you know how to care for your soft wool to merino wool knitted garments why not take a trip along the Wild Atlantic Way and discover the care and dedication that was taken in the production of your garment?
Visit the Connemara Sheep & Wool Centre where you can experience the history of the Connemara woollen industry first-hand! See the process of how a sheep’s fleece is made into cloth in our Woolcraft Demonstrations. Unfortunately, technology has made hand looms and spinning wheels redundant. However, at the Connemara Sheep & Wool Centre, we have brought that back to life in a celebration of truly handcrafted produce!