Top tip on washing alpaca knitwear!
I often get asked how I wash my alpaca garments – the answer is as little as possible… Without sounding unclean, I avoid washing my knitwear if I can and I’m not afraid to admit it! Alpaca has a self-cleaning, regulating effect which means that airing or freezing can be all you need to do to make your knitwear fresh and fabulous! Yes – you read correctly, freezing! My freezer at home contains more yarn and knitwear than food! Right – let’s start at the beginning!
After knitting your garment, I recommend steaming your garment. This helps shape the knitwear and even out the tension in your stitches. I have written a blog on this earlier and you can read it here.
After a few wears you might want to refresh your garment. I place my knitwear in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer. I leave it for about 24 hours. The reason for doing this is that it is the bacteria forming on clothes that smell and freezing kills the bacteria! After freezing I often steam the garment again to pull it back in shape.
You will eventually want to wash your knitwear. I always hand wash my alpaca garments. I soak them in the bath tub by gently pushing and moving the knitwear until it gets soaked. I don’t rub at all as this can cause felting which we of course do not want! I then rinse to remove all soap before adding a little softener/conditioner to the last rinse. I use shampoo and conditioner to wash my alpaca garments as alpaca has very similar qualities to hair. Only the best is good enough for my beloved knitwear! You can of course use a good wool detergent and a fabric softener as well, but this is down to preference.
To remove excess water from my clean knitwear I squeeze the garment gently. I try to avoid wringing as this can pull the garment out of shape. Saying that though, alpaca knitwear is very strong and it takes a lot before you break the fibre, so don’t worry about using some strength when getting the water out. You can also roll the knitwear in a clean towel, but again be careful not to stretch or rub too much. Once as much water as possible is removed I take a clean, dry towel and spread it out on a drying rack. I place my garment flat on top and shape it. It is very important not to hang wet knitwear as this will certainly alter the shape of your garment. I usually leave my drying rack by a radiator or if it is a nice day I will place it outside on the terrace! Once garment is completely dry you can steam it to shape it should you so wish.
You will notice that your garment will soften and improve with each wash. Alpaca fibre is extremely hard wearing and durable and you will have years of joy from your knitwear if you look after it well.
I hope I have given you some pointers and that you find this post useful. I can’t wait to wear this lovely Icon dress which will be even softer and more delicious after its Redken treatment this morning!