After a long winter, the temptation to simply stuff your winter wardrobe away and embrace the sunshine can be overwhelming, but when your favorite pieces are wooly hand-knits, a little extra care is needed while ‘summering’ them in the off-season. I’ll guide you through the steps for making sure your sweaters and accessories are instantly wearable when it’s time to pull them back out this fall.
I like to start by taking inventory. A lot of my sweaters use vintage buttons, so I begin the process by evaluating which buttons can go through the wash (and removing any that can’t, or are too loose and need to be re-sewn.) Any button with metal backing should be taken off, since it could tarnish, or, if it’s a button with a metallic flake coating, it could peel off when wet! Now is also a good time to weave in any ends that are poking out.
The next step is to wash your pieces in a gentle, warm-water bath with some wool wash. We love Eucalan at Knit Purl, and you can get it both scented and unscented (although the lavender scent is great since it can help repel moths!) Let your knits soak until the water is cool, then drain the tub and squish any excess water out. Take advantage of the sunshine outside and hang your knits on drying racks. I love to use these — they’re collapsible for easy storage and portability, and you can find them at almost any chain store.
After your knits are dry, get to removing any pet hair and pills that didn’t come out or off in the wash. I have a deep, abiding love for my Lilly SOS brush, which does both in one easy step. Plus it’s reusable, good for the environment, and unlike my sweater shaver, doesn’t bite into the fibers and damage all my hard work.
On to the final step! Stores that specialize in garment storage (Bed, Bath & Beyond, Ikea and The Container Store) often have sweater boxes available. They’re breathable and have a zipper or lid, and stack easily in closet space. I have to admit that most of the time, I simply wrap my knits in tissue paper (to keep them from rubbing against one another) and stack them in a rubbermaid tub. Pop in a few cedar blocks or lavender sachets if you’ll be storing in your unfinished attic or garage — nothing is worse than finding out your project fed an army of moths over the summer!