We are well and truly into knitwear season and I for one am very happy! Throwing on a lovely soft cashmere sweater on a chilly morning and feeling cosy, warm and comfortable all day feels like an easy win.
Today I’m sharing my top tips for wearing and caring for your knitwear. If you buy well and care for your jumpers and cardigans properly, they should last you for years and years.
Whether you are a cashmere fan like me, or prefer wool or a poly mix, there are ways to help your knitwear to last well and avoid having to replace them every year.
So, let’s dive into the secrets of making your knitwear last, look fabulous, and feel like a warm hug every time you wear it.
your brand new knit
I’ve shared my top care tips below but before we get to that, one of my best tips for longevity is to use a new jumper for ‘best’ to begin with. The first few wears of your jumpers will see them at their best – until that first wash!
To eek out this pristine stage I always wear a layer underneath so that I can go longer without washing it. An overnight airing on a clothes horse is usually enough to freshen it up sufficiently.
how to wash your knitwear
Once it’s time for the first wash, it goes without saying – CHECK THE LABEL for washing instructions. You must treat your knitwear with tender loving care or you risk ruining it from the off.
Most of the knitwear I buy is handwash only. This requires patience that I don’t have and since my washing machine has a handwash cycle, I usually take that option. Please do this at your own risk. You might choose to pop it into a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to avoid snagging.
I always use a gentle detergent specifically for delicates and my current favourite is Persil Silk and Wool. If the knitwear isn’t too dirty, I’d also be happy to use laundry sheets which are kinder to the environment but in my experience aren’t good enough for some of the family laundry.
Don’t leave wet knitwear in the machine, it’ll need taking out and laying flat as soon as possible.
Never, ever wring out your knitwear. If its dripping wet, press it between towels to squeeze out the excess water. If you’ve used your machine on a handwash cycle and with a very gentle spin you should be fine to skip this step.
Drying your knitwear flat is imperative to keep the shape and avoid stretching it out. Either lay it flat on a towel (and then turn over onto another dry towel after a few hours) in a warmish room or lay as flat as you can over a clothes airer. This requires less dry time as the air can circulate.
I’m an ironer, so will always give it a quick going over before returning to my wardrobe.
Knitwear usually prefers to be folded rather than hung, again to avoid being stretched out of shape.
After a while, your knitwear is likely to look a little bobbly or ‘pilled’ which is perfectly normal. I recommend you have two tools ready to deal with this.
1. A De-Bobbler
These are usually battery operated devices that you run over your knitwear much like an iron. It gently shaves off the pills or bobbles and leaves your knitwear looking brand new.
2. A Cashmere Comb
This is an essential tool for keeping your cashmere looking fabulous. Gentler than a de-bobbler, a cashmere comb is a small, inexpensive tool to do the same job. Lay your knit on a flat surface (an ironing board is perfect) and gently run a cashmere comb over the surface to remove any small bobbles. Areas that usually need most attention are under the arms or anywhere that rubs. It’s the most satisfying job ever. I even use one on my beloved cashmere socks from time to time, which come up like new.
If your knitwear pulls, use a needle and thread or a crochet hook to pull the thread back through. Small holes can be repaired by an expert if it’s beyond your skill set. Repairing clothes is a lost art but one that brings so much satisfaction and is something we all ought to be doing more.
I’ve already mentioned that folding is better for your knitwear than hanging, but another important part of storing your knitwear is to scatter cedar balls or lavender throughout your drawers/shelves to keep the moths at bay.
If you pack away your knitwear for summer, always, always wash it first. And include cedar balls in the box/bag. Moths love dirty clothes.
However beautifully you care for your knitwear, there will come a time when you decide it’s not looking as pristine as you’d like. This might mean it’s time to downgrade it to a different category of clothing.
I like to move my ‘best’ knits to ‘everyday’ pieces and then finally to ‘dog-walking’ or ‘loungewear’. I still want to look and feel nice when I’m trudging through the fields, or cosying up in front of the fire, so why not wear a much loved cashmere that has served me well for years and years and is now ready for a well-earned rest?
Cherish your knits and embrace the warmth and joy they bring.