Friday, October 22, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

Wednesday was a beautiful autumnal day that gave way to a gift from our Canadian friends: a freezing cold front bearing torrential rains. I was driving on Cemetery Road, (would I kid you?), out in the middle of No Man's Land, when the rain started pouring down. It was so windy that it looked like it was snowing gold. Those were the leaves on trees that were blown off during the storm and were flying through the air. I could barely see where I was going in this area with no street lights and I was exhausted. In addition to seeing 3 patients, which doesn't sound like a lot, I drove 194 miles between them, which was. A lot.

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.


NCmountainwoman said...

What a shame about the sweater. I also hate dry cleaning but I have a front-loading washer. I've thought about soaking them in the sink and then spinning them in the washer. Perhaps I'll give that a try.

Stephanie V said...

Oh, Rudee, I could hook a wonderful rug with that cashmere sweater!

I wash all the wool fabric I bring in for hooking immediately. The freezer comes in handy, too, for a quick proaction when I can't get to the washer. In fact, I was wishing we hadn't recycled our old one last fall. It occurred to me, too late, that I could round-robin my stash of yarn and fabric.

Dry cleaning I try to avoid. Just cheap, I think.

Mary Anne Gruen said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your sweater! I wash mine as well.

As to the cold winter, well, I don't know if it means anything, but my husky-mix dog seems to be growing an especially thick undercoat this year. I'm wondering if I should get a coat for my lab-mix just in case. Although I can't imagine him agreeing to wear it. LOL

SkippyMom said...

Sorry about the sweater Rudee - can pieces of it be salvage for something else? Perhaps a lining of a hat or mitten[s]?

I have a gorgeous wool sweater of my Dad's I just discovered has a whole in the back. I am keeping it tho' - do a little repair and then wear it under my coat to outdoor activities. The sucker is warm.

jeannette said...

You are right, work can wait if you need to take care of something dear to you (and the time you invested to make this beautiful one!)

Brenda said...

All of those beautiful stitches! I wonder if you can still use parts of it for a purse or something? I don't like the smell of dry cleaned wool either. I am glad you did this post to remind us take care of our work but sorry the moths got your sweater.

Jane/WTKnits said...

Oh NO!!!!!!! Thanks for the tutorial. I too have a top loader and a house full of people who use it too. Definitely need that note!

Catherine said...

Hi Rudee - what a cultural clash there is here! Firstly top-loaders are almost unknown here since the demise of the Twin Tub(toploading washing tub with a spin tub adjacent) and everyone has a frontloader. I wash jumpers in the wool cycle with a 30degree (centigrade) wash and never get felt, so maybe I'm lucky but there's minimal agitation. Anyway thought to share this with you. Is that only peculiar to top loaders with agitator thingys in them to churn the washing? Maybe.Oh what a lot to learn - are front-loaders not the norm Stateside? there's a post there somewhere!

Rose said...

I washed some of my knits last week (or maybe it was two weeks) ago and now I'm out of Eucalan. I plan to remedy that tomorrow so I can finish up the knit washing! So sorry about the cashmere :( Moths are cruel.

Sandy said...

Hi Rudee - there is a post about Crusty Crone at my blog you might want to read. I know you visit her blog.

Miss 376 said...

Oh, what a shame. I hand wash my precious woollens

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

if it were me i'd stitch those holes on the inside with a fine thread and see if i could make it wearable again. or if not, what about making a pillow cover with it.

your work is SO lovely!

smiles, bee

ari_1965 said...

I'm sorry about your sweater. Thank you for the washing machine instructions. I can handle all of the steps except the one where I'm supposed to knit.

I am a failed knitter, she moans. I was hoping you'd make me a sweater to keep me warm this winter because I'm not getting any younger but that's okay I'll just shiver to keep warm, says the dog. I think of knitting as spiritual exercise for my fingers, says the lady with the hair like a helmet on daytime television. Knitters have cooties, says the voice of the small child within all adults.