We all know that washing and drying wool or any kind of clothing material can be tricky. Apart from changes in color, the material can either stretch too much or shrink too much to a point that it becomes practically unusable. Needless to say, the caring of your crocheted creations is definitely an important lesson that crocheters need to make time for. The good news is that most yarn labels will give you instructions on how to properly care for your creations and it is best to keep them until you are confident enough to part with them.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have unfortunately misplaced the handy care instructions and you are unsure of what to do, there are certain considerations you need to keep in mind before washing your hard work away. Keep in mind that there are many, many different kinds of yarn and caring for them varies as well. Enumerating each one of those can take a long time, not to mention listing down the specific care instructions one by one. There are, however, general guidelines you can use so that your project can have a long and nice life as possible.
Depending on the material of your product, you can either throw it in the washing machine or wash it by hand. Typically items made of wool are more resistant to dirt than others anyway, so you can easily just wash the item by hand to spot-clean it. Yet, there are actually a few types of yarns made of cotton, linen and mixed qualities that can be machine-washed in approximately 40C. Make sure to choose the washing program that can rinse the garments well and avoid using too much fabric softener. Additionally, acrylic and other synthetic yarns can be washed and dried with your regular laundry load, as they do not shrink. However it doesn’t really have a nice feel on the skin, so it is not as widely used by many crocheters specifically for garments. Regardless of the fiber content, washing your crocheted items by hand is usually your safest bet to clean them. However, do not wash them too often, otherwise they will lose shape. If you absolutely need to machine-wash wool and silk, spin them lightly in a pillowcase. Remember not to mix colors and make sure to squeeze out the water before spinning. Just don’t ever use a dryer for wool as this could significantly shrink the item.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to cleaning your crocheted garments is to use only detergents that are made specifically for washing wool and other fine fibers. You should also choose one that does not contain any bleaching agent, as this can damage the fibers on your items over time. If possible, wash the garments separately with a generous amount of water but at no time should they be soaked longer than necessary for the items to become wet. This is to avoid the excess dye from affecting other colors, especially if you have a big load of sweaters, scarves and other crocheted garments that come in both light and dark shades. The best approach is just really to wash them separately if possible. You should always remember to use cold water too if you can to avoid any shrinking. In case it happens, just be sure to measure the items before washing in order for you to be able to shape them afterwards. In the contrary, do not tumble dry as this could also cause stretching.
After washing, resist the temptation to twist the water out. Rather, squeeze. Try shaping the garment to its original shape as best as you could and then lay it flat to dry. You should avoid drying garments on a surface that absorbs moisture such as towels as this could cause the garment to lose its natural elasticity or become discolored. Keep the garments away from direct sunlight too as this could cause fading.
Avoid ironing your crocheted items if you can. In the event that you would need to, set the iron on the lowest heat setting and place a slightly damp neutral-colored cloth between your crochet item and the iron. Never apply direct heat on the crochet item as too much heat can damage the yarn fibers. You should also never hang your crocheted items, regardless of whether they are wet or not, because hanging can cause overstretching of the fabric and will just change the shape of your garments.
When it comes to storage especially during the summer season, make sure to place acid-free tissue paper between the folds and around the items. This protects your crocheted items from dusts and assures cleanliness. This is also a good way for you to preserve the yarn fibers of your items, until it is time for you to use them again. Keep in mind that you should never store any item that is not cleaned properly, as stain can set while being stored.
In the end, caring for your handmade crocheted creations goes a long way in making sure you can preserve their original shape, texture and form. To save yourself the trouble of spending valuable time researching and reading through lengthy articles, the best way to save yourself the effort is to keep the yarn labels. While doing so can get ridiculously unwieldy if you’re using a different yarn per project, the next best thing is to wash them only when it’s necessary and to fold them properly in your closest.