Lulled into complacency by the beautiful weather we've had for the entire summer and the months of September and October, I'd not washed any of my sweaters and found myself completely unprepared for the cold. Forecasters say this will be a cold and snowy winter and I've done nothing. Now I'm sorry and have fixed that, but for one sweater, a cashmere beauty, it was too little, too late. The moths had gotten to it and it's my fault because in the middle of moving last March, I'd neglected to wash all of my sweaters. I just put them into moving boxes and forgot about them.
While taking them to the dry cleaner's would have at least protected them by killing the moths that I'd probably brought in on my unclean sweaters, washing them before packing them away would have done the same. I don't like the smell of wool that's been dry cleaned, so I didn't even consider this possibility. I should have, because I knew better. Washing is relatively easy, and one need not fear the potential for felting or shrinking wool if you do it right.
Fill your top loader (which most knitters want) with cold water and a couple of cap fulls of your favorite soak. I use Eucalan.
Lay your like-colored knit wear on top of the water and keep the lid of the machine up so it doesn't engage the motor. The last thing you want is to mix water, soap AND agitation. You'll create felt and give yourselves the makings of a real pity party.
If you live with other humans who know how to use a washing machine, post a sign that uses at least one exclamation point. This lets your housemate know that you mean business.
Set the timer for at least 30 to 45 minutes or do like me and go knit a few rows on a never-ending project. When the time is up, go back to the machine, bypass the wash cycle and go straight to the drain and spin cycle. Say a little prayer and then walk away until the machine signals it's done.
Remove the articles of now clean wool and lay them flat to dry on a towel--reshaping them while you do.
Show your friends a close up of the continued loft of your yarn, fabulous stitch definition and lack of felting they'll find if they follow your directions.
Show your friends the remains of a beautiful cashmere sweater, and proof that there will be a heavy price to be paid for sloth.
Moral of the story? Working can't wait and moths love dirty wool.