How to wash knits

Hi everyone, I am popping back in to see if anyone can tell me what I did wrong. I knit my husband a nice winter hat, on size 9 needles, with cascade superwash wool yarn. He loved the hat, it fit perfect, then we washed it. It grew to twice the width, and half the height. We did not dry it. I was under the impression superwash could be washed. Please someone explain this to me, it’s extremely disappointing.

I feel sorry for you but sadly, this is how many superwash yarns work. Rather than shrinking/felting, they stretch out. This is why, when knitting socks with superwash yarn, I knit them too tight (too few stitches all around) and they will then end up being perfect after a couple of wash cycles.

My suggestion is to put that cap through more wash cycles and then after it dried measure the gauge. Then you would be able to make a cap that you really can wash.

Thank you so much for answering me! I am not a new knitter, but, there are things I struggle with no matter how much I do. Even weaving in the ends, I always swear I do a great job, then, I wash, and they fray.

If you weave in the ends after you have knitted, try this method:

  1. Follow a diagonal line of purl bumps and pull the yarn under each purl bump.
  2. Stretch the fabric
  3. Follow the parallel diagonal line back.
  4. Stretch the fabric
  5. Cut and leave a tail on the inside/wrong side long enough so it does not pop out on the right side.

If the yarn is slippery, you could do more repetition of step 1-4 and also you could split the yarn into two and go in two directions.

The important thing is to stretch the fabric and to leave a small tail on the wrong side. Then there is far less chance a tail will suddenly poke out on the right side. By following a diagonal line of purl bumps the weaving is almost invisible until the tail comes.

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Superwash yarns do stretch when wet but they can stabilise when dry. Try re-washing and tumble dry. Alternatively, re-wash and carefully lie flat without stretching and you might find it’s less oversized. I’ve done this with cascade superwash blankets to good effect

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I thank you all so much! Especially for the encouragement! I will save those instructions on weaving ends, engblom. This is the best knitting site, with the best info!

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Superwash yarns are notorious for stretching a lot when washed. But usually, they come back to size when machine dried but not when laid flat to dry. That is another good reason to make a swatch and wash and dry it as you will the finished item. Then you will know what to expect.

As for weaving in ends, I have found that when you CUT the yarn, you have a blunt end, and those tend to slip out easier. When I was weaving, I used to fray the ends, and it was easier to hide them into the weaving. I find with knitting too, I like to ‘fray’ the ends before weaving in. There is a way to slide the scissors back and forth to cut the ends in different places to fray the ends. If you can break the yarn by pulling on it, you will get a frayed end… and then weave it in that way Sometimes it doesn’t break where you want! Give it a try and see how it works for you.

These are all the reasons that I’ve stopped using superwash wool entirely. I’ve grown to love sticky, woolly wool. Unless you’re exceptionally hard on your knits, they only need to be washed about once a season. You lay them out to dry to your measurements and they’re perfect. Also, weaving in ends is especially easy with sticky wool. Those ends bind to the fabric so easily. Superwash wool, even just for socks, is a huge disappointment for me.

Recently I have begun avoiding all yarn containing plastic because of how it ends up in nature. I still might use superwash wool with some part nylon for socks as they will not get worn out the same fast and they are easier to wash, but for the rest of my knitting projects I will try to use wool without plastic. Many superwash wool yarns are coated with a plastic resin.

For me it is not about yarn snobbery, it about avoid plastic there where it is not absolutely needed. Already now you can hardly find any water well with non-contaminated water and even the air we breath contains many, many microscopic plastic particles.