Our knitwear experts share their best tips to give your wool garments a long and happy life.
Investing in quality woolen knitwear does not only provide an immense feeling of joy, it is also a very wise idea for two main reasons:
1. Nothing beats the warmth provided by the wool family. Cashmere, mohair, merino and the rest of the gang are simply your best friends if you want to stay warm when temperatures drop. Synthetic fabrics, not so much.
2. If you treat them the right way, your wool garments will stay with you for years and even become softer with time. Which means you won’t have to buy new sweaters every season and the planet will thank you for it.
Knitwear is a love supreme here at Bellerose, but unfortunately it happens way too often that people have trouble preventing their sweaters from pilling, shrinking or losing their shape. Truth is wool is a delicate natural fiber that requires special care to live a long and happy life. Fortunately, we’ve got a few knitwear maniacs in our team who know all the secrets and tricks and they were kind enough to share them with us. Here’s the way to go:
OK, so this is the ultimate tip (and you might not like it): regardless of the care label, we always recommend to hand wash any kind of wool. Even though some fabrics withstand to be machine washed, the result will never equal hand washing.
Soak one item at a time in lukewarm water with just a little bit of liquid detergent, gently swish it around and then leave it to soak for a few minutes. Rinse twice (or more if necessary) and gently press the water out — never wring out wool, the material could easily be stretched out of shape.
Of course, if you don’t have time to hand wash all your knits, most washing machines now have a ‘hand wash’ or ‘delicate’ program you can use safely. The key is to make sure the spin cycle doesn’t exceed 800 rpm (go for 500 rpm if possible). It’s also very important to turn your garment inside out beforehand and to not overload the machine.
Using a wool detergent will do the job, but here’s a better (and cheaper) trick: use baby shampoo! And no need to go for the expensive ones, the cheapest will work perfectly. If you think about it, wool is just delicate hair.
After a gentle wash, your knit will still be quite wet. To remove excess water, lay your garment flat on a towel, roll it and press gently.
Never ever hang your wool to dry, as it will stretch it out of shape. Instead, dry it flat on a drying net or (if you don’t own one) on a clean towel.
We admit that it’s a bit of work, but it really is worth it. Plus keep in mind that woolen garments need to be washed less regularly than other items.
Looking after your woolens continues in the closet. To prevent them from stretching out of shape, always store your knitwear folded in a drawer or on a shelf. Hanging wool or cashmere can cause them to take up to 6 cm of extra length, plus the hangers can damage the knit on the shoulders.
If you don’t have enough space to store your knitwear folded, choose wooden hangers, they’re still better than metal hangers (your sweaters’ worst nightmare).
As we’re sure you’ve noticed, pilling is almost inevitable when we’re talking about woolen garments. Though we agree it’s not fun, it’s part of the natural process in most cases and occurs whenever friction is applied to the fabric. Wherever friction occurs, pilling can occur too. This means that the sides of your garment and the insides of your sleeves (where your arms and body rub against each other) are the most vulnerable spots. It’s got to be said though that blend fabrics (made of two or more different fibers) tend to pill more than pure wool or pure cashmere for example.
What can you do to prevent pilling? Brush your knits regularly, using a lint roller or special garment brush. Follow all of the wash and care tips mentioned above too. And if pills do appear, don’t stress. Try using an electric fabric shaver on the most delicate setting, or a pilling-comb. You can also grab a razor and get to work, but just make sure you're VERY careful. Do not use scissors or dull razors, these are more than likely to cause damage.
We could go on talking about knitwear for hours but with these few tips you already have the keys to keep your wools looking good and feeling good for many years. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, or if you have your own magic tricks to take care of our beloved knitwear, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send us a message on Instagram!
Words & pictures by Victoria Nossent