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Old 08-10-2008, 12:27 AM   #1
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Blocking & Washable yarns for a newbie
Hi all! I am pretty new to knitting, and have some questions that I need help with!

#1 -- It seems like it's so hard to find a pattern I love that uses a yarn that can actually be washed without hand-drying and reshaping. Is all hope lost? Is there any such thing as a soft cozy yarns that is machine washable and can even be thrown in the dryer?

#2 -- I understand the purpose of blocking; but after a garment is finished (blocking and all)... if it is later washed, does it then have to be blocked again? Doesn't it lose shape after washing? It seems like an awful lot of trouble.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-10-2008, 12:48 AM   #2
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Many wool blends can be machine washed and dried and so can the superwash wools, though perhaps not dried completely dry, just until damp.

A wool item which is blocked should be reblocked after washing if you need to get the same size. A lot of people don't bother blocking, even wool things. It's done partly to even out the sts, which can be done with just a wash, and to stretch it a bit if you didn't get gauge and are a smidge small on the sizing. If it's that small, I'd just go up a needle size and it should be the right size.

You're right, it's a lot of trouble. I use mostly acrylic or blends and haven't blocked anything yet, just wash and dry.
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Old 08-10-2008, 02:12 AM   #3
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You don't have to use the yarn called for in a pattern. People subsitute yarns of their choice all the time. There are some considerations when substituting. You need to find a yarn that will get the gauge you need and have a similar quailty to what was called for if you want the same look as the item shown. Like Sue said wool blends can be machine washed and dried. I did have a sweater I knit for my granddaughter ruined by machine drying it when it was okay to machine wash it. Should have laid it flat to dry (it was washable wool). There are also cotton blends that can be machine done.

I have to say this, although I have not tried it.... I had a yarn shop ower tell me she machine washes all her wool and my own daughter tells me she machine washes hers, even expensive cashmere sweaters and has never had any ruined. You need to use a low agitation and short cycle and warm or cool water that doesn't change temperatures for the rinses. You can also put the item in a lingerie bag to minimize surface contact.

Often a garment, when you make it, is blocked before it is pieced together. You can do a careful measuring and all that if you want. I usually don't do a super job with all that, but just laying an item out and spraying it, or wetting it and laying it out with some pinning or not will help an item to look more professional. Sometimes I just wash it or wet it and roll it in a towel to dry it a bit and then lay it out so that it looks about right (ArtLady, don't listen in :-)), and sometimes I don't do anymore than that or I have been known to put table knives along the edges to hold down the edges.

After an item is made and it use, I've never really blocked (as in measuring and all that) it again. I wouldn't say it may not be needed with some yarns but with the wool I have used, just laying it out to the shape you want and leaving it to dry is all I have done (I'm thinking of sweaters). It's not that hard, and only what you do with a lot of items you buy that say "lay flat to dry".
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Old 08-10-2008, 03:17 AM   #4
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I usually only do the careful blocking when I'm blocking the pieces
of a sweater that needs to be sewn up. After it's put together, and
washed after wearing, I don't do all the measuring and all that. I've
only made children's sweaters (working on my first adult sized now)
so I don't know if it makes any difference with the larger sizes. With
my dd's sweaters, I just machine wash (I use superwash wool) and
then lay flat to dry.

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Old 08-10-2008, 09:06 PM   #5
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I have wool sweaters that I have made over the years, some of which date back almost 30 years. I hand wash and lay out on a sweater rack just laying flat and let dry. I have never had any problems and they still fit fine.
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:54 AM   #6
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A couple of points to add. . .the first is that I wash every single sweater I've made in the machine, and in a garment bag. As someone said above, it reduces surface contact and that's what causes pilling, felting, etc. The other thing is that you often don't need to re-block after every washing. As a matter of fact you need to be very careful when blocking, because the results are often permanent.
But I'm not big on blocking and my stuff is always fine (but I'm allergic to wool, so it's not relevant to most of what I make). It does give a more professional look, but you can get away with not doing it.
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