Tuesday, October 19

My Tale of Derring-Do (for now, sans pictures), or, Klaralaundry

I made an oblique reference to my brave, exciting risk-taking behavior in yesterday's post about Rhinebeck. So here it is, my tale of excitement, of danger, of the thrill of the gambler's life.

I washed Klaralund.

In the washing machine.

With detergent.


I was loving the colors, loving the design, but it was just too big, and even though I got gauge when I swatched, I guess I was in too much of a hurry knitting the thing because I wound up 1/4 stitch or so off in the actual garment. I tried to block it so the sleeves weren't too big, so the body had some shape, but with my extra-drapey fabric, the blocking "fell out" after about 5 seconds of wearing. Gravity is a powerful thing. Just ask my bra. You can kind of tell how loosely it's knit in this picture from before it was blocked. Can you see how the yellow design on my shirt shows right through the fabric? And look at the light peeking through the sleeve fabric by my left hand. It wasn't terrible--I could still wear it--but it wasn't fabulous.

I hand-washed it gently, bathing it like a baby as recommended by EZ, and drying it flat. The yarn, which honestly didn't have a gorgeous hand pre-washing "bloomed" slightly, filling out a tiny bit more and gaining a miniscule amount of mohair fuzz. But it was still too big, too drapey, and too loosely knit. What it really needed was to SHRINK about 5% all the way around. And what's the best way to shrink something? Throw it in the washer, right?

Now, someone on the Klara knit-along had washed her too-big Kureyon Klara in the washing machine (and even dried it on low!) and it had worked out well. So I decided I'd give it a try. I had to do it sort of on the spur of the moment or I would have chickened out. So as I prepared dinner on Friday night, I just chucked it in the front-loader, by itself, with some health food store detergent, cold water, gentle rinse.

The hard part was waiting. I have unintentionally felted before. It was not a pretty sight. I recently overfelted a pair of fuzzy feet slippers. I know how bad this can be. And heck, I've already re-knit one piece of this sweater, I suppose I can knit another one. Not that I wouldn't cry about it. So I tried to stay busy, and managed to restrain myself from calling in a prescription for Xanax to get me through the experience. My front-loader does open during the cycle, so I checked it a few times, and though it was hard to tell, it didn't look like anything too drastic was happening. I did sit there a few times, looking through the window at it like Zippy the Pinhead, having this idiotic conversation with myself:

Me: "That water is falling RIGHT on it! This can't be okay!"

Me: "That's why you put it in the washer. So it would get a little bit fulled. You WANT some water to fall on it."

Me: "What if it's turning into a big mass of felt? What if I'll never wear it again? Sure, you said we'd survive, but who do you think is going to have to knit the whole thing again? Me, that's who."

Me: "Look, it's fine. Let's go in the other room and eat oreo cookies and hope for the best. Step away from the washing machine. Come with me. Really. Breathe."

I pulled it out gave it about 2 minutes in the dryer on low, but I couldn't find the sweater rack and I had reached my limit. I laid it out and waited for it to dry....and....

BEAUTIFUL! The yarn completely bloomed after going through the washer. It filled out the stitches and is a million times softer, more lustrous, and has a lovely but not excessive mohair halo. I have heard of yarns that need to be machine-washed to achieve their full potential (heheheh, didja get the fibery pun there?). I think Silk Garden may be one of them.

My lawyers have insisted that I include the following disclaimer. These results may be atypical. Your mileage may vary. If you choose to launder your Klaralund, you hereby indemnify and hold harmless mamacate from any action or complaint stemming from her account of her Klaralaundry. Past performance is not an indication of future return. Contents may be hot. Do not try this at home without a responsible adult present. These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA. This approach may or may not be safe and effective.

But if you do try this (and I'm not saying you should, really, I don't want anyone blaming me for their felted $100/30-hour sweater, really!), please tell me how it goes. And if you like yours as much as I like mine, I'd like to know. Jenifer is going to do something rather more sane and wash hers "vigorously" by hand. She's probably smarter. As usual.

In other news, Rhys and the kids and I are walking in a local Breast Cancer Walk toward the Cure this coming weekend. As I've mentioned here before, Rhys' sister was just diagnosed, and most of the women in Rhys' family have had it. Today is SIL's first chemo treatment. So if you'd like to donate to our walk, click here. And either way, if you pray or send good vibes, send them along to SIL.

Photos of the Klaralaundry, plus Rhinebeck, tonight, promise.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, I may just have to give that a try. You know how I feel about Silk Garden :|
Also, just catching up with reading my blogs here, glad to hear that you got to go Rhinebeck :)


Mommio said...

Glad that your tale of brave knitting exploits turned out well! Let's see a new Klara photo.

Anonymous said...

Cate- it is because of brave women like you (and the previous Klaralund-washer) that ordinary timid folks like myself can find it within themselves to take that big leap and shrink and refine their own Klaralunds in the washing machine. Thank you, thank you for your courage. I'm gonna use shampoo though.