My stories of jewelry making, spinning, knitting, and all things fibery.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Care and Feeding of Your Winter Woolies

Felted things are all the rage right now. From handbags to hair accessories this old fashioned craft has resurfaced today with a new flair. Felting is a process whereby woolen fiber is treated with water, heat and pressure to produce matted wool fabric. Trendy and beautiful - yes - but only when done intentionally! The felting of a cherished sweater can be an ugly surprise. I can admit to ruining many a 100% woolen garment and a favorite pair of hiking socks. That's why washing instructions and care labels are meant to be read.

Any time wool, alpaca or any other animal fiber encounters the above mentioned conditions, the felting process will occur. Shrinking won't be far behind. The fleeces of older sheep not regularly shorn can felt right on the animal from moisture, body heat and abrasion, thus producing a matted clump that is useless for spinning into yarn.

Wool garments must be gently hand washed with little or no agitation, wringing or squeezing. Rolling carefully in a thick towel will remove excess moisture. I have used the spin cycle of my washing machine on delicate to remove excess water with good results. Be careful to reshape the damp piece on a drying rack to air dry.

Many people shy away from purchasing 100% wool garments because of the maintenance, but animal fibers are all natural, very warm and they can be extremely luxurious. Remember - never store unwashed woolen garments for long periods of time as they become a magnet for moths. The extra care steps recommended here will insure a long and happy life for your fibery favorites.

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