Blocking and maintenance
It is inevitable that you will have to wash your knitwear eventually, but you must do it properly to make sure it stays beautiful for as long as possible.
The first bath of your knitwear should take place as soon as you fold the last stitch, before you even wear it. The blocking step should not be skipped because it will give you a clear idea of what your knitwear will look like when you take it out of the bath so you will avoid any unpleasant surprises when you have to wash it.
Washing a knit is simple. All it takes is a short soaking session:
First, fill a large sink or bathtub with lukewarm water at room temperature. The worst enemy of natural wool is thermal shock, so you don't want the water to be too cold (like the water in the pipes during the Quebec winter!) or too hot.
Add a small capful of delicate laundry soap like those from Faveur Montréal. If you use the bar version, lather a small amount on your hands under running water and dilute in water. Stir the water to mix well.
Place your knitwear in soapy water and gently squeeze the knitwear to wet it. Leave to soak for 20-30 minutes.
Remove the soapy water and refill the washbasin with clear lukewarm water. Put the knitted fabric back in and gently squeeze it out to rinse off the soap.
When your knitwear is all clean, remove it from the sink and squeeze the excess water out of your hands. DO NOT WRINK.
Then roll up the knitted fabric in a large, absorbent towel to remove as much water as possible.
Shape and dry
Spread on foam blocks and give shape to the knit. You can stretch or place the knit so that it gets the expected dimensions according to the pattern.
It may be necessary to pin or use pins when the knit is made up of patterns from lace or if it needs to be given a particular shape (as for a shawl for example.)
For sweaters, a pop-up dryer can be used instead of foam blocks if pinning is not necessary.
Avoid drying your knitwear hanging on a hanger. The weight of the fibres will cause your clothes to stretch and lose their shape.
What about the washing machine?
Some threads will indicate on the label that they can be machine washed. Usually these are either vegetable, synthetic or treated (Superwash) fibres to prevent felting.
If you choose to machine wash your knitwear, use the delicate cycle and be sure to put it in a mesh bag or pillowcase to avoid hanging a stitch in a zipper!
Also make sure to set the water temperature settings to "warm" to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Avoid the dryer!
The dryer is not a friend to knitting and should be avoided at all costs.