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Guide to Washing Your Wools

October 20, 2017

Guide to Washing Your Wools

Let’s talk about Autumn.  

Warm apple crisps, pumpkins on doorsteps, trips to the orchard to taste, smell, see and hear that which best captures the beauty of this season.  Perhaps one of my favorite fall memories is pulling our woolen cloths out of my grandmother’s old cedar trunk.  To me, wool evokes childhood memories and speaks of times gone by - simpler times where mothers knit beautiful garments with intention and care.

While the pace of life does not allow me to hand-knit these heirloom pieces, I go out of my way to discover shops that value organic fibers and source handmade clothing ethically.  

This journey lead me to CLOTH, its name originating from owner Justine’s “love of fabric; everything from texture, to the way a garment is constructed - organic cotton gauze, linen, embroidery, seams, pleating, buttons…”  The attention to detail brings me back to my grandmother’s cedar trunk.

In an effort to bring practicality to children and woolen garments, we must consider the time and energy it takes to care for these heirloom pieces.  My secret?  It’s not hard.  And it doesn’t take an exorbitant amount of time.  Here are my 4 steps to hand-washing my son’s alpaca wool Omibia cardigan:

  1. Run cold water into basin, mixing in 2 tbsp of wool detergent. (My favorite brands are Eucalan or The Laundress 'Wool & Cashmere Shampoo'. Should the sweater need to be spot treated, I recommend The Laundress 'Stain Solution' and 'Wash and Stain' bar.
  2. Submerging the cardigan completely, I gently use my hands to massage the cold water/soap mixture into the sweater.  (Hint: Do this gently.  The point of hand-washing is to not aggravate the wool, so you’ll want to massage gently and not rub the fibers together.) 
  1. While you don’t want to let your wool soak for long (I let mine sit about 15 minutes).  The next step is to remove the item from the water and rinse out the soap.  You want to press the water out of the sweater, and be sure to avoid wringing or twisting the natural fibers.
  2. To dry: you can either form sweater and lay flat OR expedite the process by laying the cardigan flat on a towel and rolling it up (think sleeping bag roll) to press out the excess water.  Next, you’ll form and lay flat to dry. The “towel method” reduces dry time by about 50%.

  

  • Friendly Reminder: You do not need to wash your children’s wools after every wear.  I try to wash mine as infrequently as possible, as washing removes the natural oils from the wool.
  • For a “refresh” between wears, take a soft, natural horsehair brush and gently brush the sweater to rejuvenate the natural oils and remove lint.
  • In the off season, fold in fabric bags.  Store preferably in cedar or with cedar chips to ward off moths. Never hang or store in plastic.

It’s as easy as (eating) pie.  While I someday look forward to knitting these heirloom pieces for my children, the weekly task of washing their woolen clothes allows me to feel close to and appreciate the intentionality with which they were made.  And, of course, I hope that someday my children and grandchildren feel the same nostalgia when pulling these same pieces out of my cedar trunk. 

Written by Autumn Landrum.  Follow her adventures and beautiful photography on Instagram @autumnsjoys