Though you may not be feeling the chill in the air just yet, fall and winter are coming. This means it’s time to pull out your cozy woolens and get them ready for wear!
We recommend laundering your sweaters at the end of each spring, before you pack them away for the summer. This cleans them of any oils from your skin and makes them less palatable to moths and other fibre loving insects. However, if you’ve missed that step, there’s no time like the present to launder your woolens.
Fill a basin with tepid water and add a capful of Eucalan or the contents of a single use pod. Add your sweater and let sit for 20 minutes, then remove your sweater, gently squeezing to release excess water. You don’t want to wring your sweater – this will only pull it out of shape. Wrap it in a clean, dry towel and press gently to release more water. Lay flat to dry on another clean dry towel, gently pressing into shape, and dry away from heat and direct sunlight.
If you washed your sweaters before packing them away for the season, now is the perfect time to pull them out and freshen them up for wear! To get rid of creases and reblock your sweaters for wearing, you can skip the full wash and just spray block your sweaters by lightly misting them with a spray bottle filled with a dash of Eucalan and cool water. Then press your sweater gently into shape and let dry.
Given enough use and wear, even the nicest sweaters and woolens will start to have little balls of fiber appear. Pilling occurs when loose fibres push up from the fabric, eventually gathering in small balls – simply washing and wearing can cause this! You can remove these pills using a variety of tools: a Sweater Stone, a Gleener, or a fabric comb. We have a great video that demonstrates how to de-pill a sweater.
Even with the best care, sweaters and other woolen items may develop holes over time. With a little creativity and ingenuity, you can mend these items and continue wearing them! If you find a defect along a seam, or while you still have some of the original yarn used in the project in reserve, you may be able to mend your item invisibly. If neither of these are an option, however, you may consider visible mending.
Visible mending is a new hot trend where you repair your garment using bright, fun colours or designs so that the mending itself becomes a feature of the garment. We found this great photo collection of mending for knit sweaters by Collingwood-Norris Design.
Interweave also has a couple of useful posts on visible mending. The first post has some tips and tricks on how to visibly mend your garments, though they focus on a pair of jeans rather than a sweater. The second post focuses on spinning yarn for visible mending. Either way, the steps are fairly similar:
- Gather your tools. You will need: sharp scissors, a tapestry needle, yarn or thread (various colours and weights depending on the yarn used in the garment), a flat surface for working, DPNs (double pointed needles) in the appropriate size for picking up stitches.
- Lay your work out flat. Make sure you’ve got your garment laid out flat on a working surface in front of you. The garment shouldn’t be held taut, but rather laid out how you would block it. Isolate the areas in need of mending.
- Pick up stitches and trim loose threads. You want your working area to be clean and neat. Where possible, pick up stitches using your DPNs to stabilize the stitches from dropping further and making the hole growing bigger. Trim any long threads that might get in your way while you are working; shorter threads can be trimmed after you mend.
- Decide on your mending process and start mending. There are a variety of ways to mend holes in garments. If you are picking up stitches on a fraying edge, you may wish to reknit that section. If you are darning a hole in an elbow, you may wish to weave a patch using needle and thread, much like you would darn a sock. Or you may choose to embroider the edges of the hole, or over the hole completely if it is small. If you’re looking for more resources on visible mending ideas and stitches there are a variety of books on Amazon as well as an article in one of the recent Mason-Dixon Field Guides, and the inspiring Tom of Holland’s The Visible Mending Programme.
- Weave in and trim your ends. Once you have finished mending, you want to weave in your ends. This includes some of those shorter ends from the beginning, if you haven’t already worked those into your mending. Make sure everything is snug and secure so nothing pulls loose later on.
- Launder your garment. When you’re done, you may wish to launder your garment again. Fill a basin with tepid water and add a capful of Eucalan or the contents of a single use pod. Add your sweater and let sit for 20 minutes, then remove your sweater, gently squeezing to release excess water. You don’t want to wring your sweater – this will only pull it out of shape. Wrap it in a towel and press gently to release more water. Lay flat to dry, gently pressing into shape, and dry away from heat and direct sunlight.
If you’re looking for more details on getting your sweaters ready for fall, you can check out our previous post on Caring for your Handknit Sweater.
We hope this post has helped you get excited for fall and for wearing your warm woolens again!