Pieces/parts questions

Hello all,

I’m getting back into knitting after many years (not that I was ever an expert, but I had successfully completed a few sweaters), and my first project is a pretty simple sweater made with chunky yarn. Here’s my question: Due to a kerosene heater episode, the first sleeve I finished got some soot stains (in spite of being in a plastic bag for protection - guess it wasn’t closed all the way). So I called the yarn store for advice, washed it in Dawn, and in the process it stretched some (I guess this is normal? 25% wool/75% acrylic). So then after finishing the second sleeve I washed it as well, in order that when I assemble the whole sweater they would be the same. (1) Am I now committed to washing the front & back as well, before assembling the whole sweater? (2) Is the norm to wash all pieces before assembling, or after? (3) I saw a comment on one of the forums that with synthetic yarn, blocking is not necessary. Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance for the help!

If I am knitting with mostly animal fiber, I usually wet block all my sweater pieces before assembly, or if they are really heavy, I pin them down and use a plant mister to spray them until they are thoroughly wet and let them dry. I know not everyone does this, but I find it makes seaming a lot easier.

Having said that, it sounds like your yarn, being more acryclic than wool, can be machine washed and dried. If that’s the case, I’d say the answer to your first question is a qualified no. I wouldn’t wash all the pieces by hand, instead I’d machine wash all of them and dry them. (I’d put them in a pillowcase or lingerie bag, in case you have any loose threads that might get caught on something). If they are not machine washable, then my answer to your first question would be with another question–do the stitches look about the same on your sleeves after they are dry as the rest of your pieces? If so, then I don’t think you need to wash all of the other pieces before assembly.

To answer question 2–is it the norm to wash all pieces? As I mentioned above, I prefer to do this when working with mostly animal fiber, but I wouldn’t especially say it’s the norm. At any rate, it’s certainly not required. I just think it makes seaming much easier and is therefore worth the effort.

Question 3–Purely synthetic (and mostly synthetic) yarn doesn’t need to be blocked. I will say from my own experience, however, that I made a sampler blanket out of wool-ease (which is 80% acrylic and 20% wool) and I did block some of the lacy patterned squares, and it actually did open up the pattern quite a bit. So your yarn, which is a mostly synthetic blend, probably [I]could[/I] be blocked, but again, I think it’s what you would prefer to do. Blocking 100% synthetic yarn is not really useful, because it doesn’t “hold” the block.

There’s my novel on blocking for you. :slight_smile:

ETA: I forgot to ask–were you able to get the soot out?

With that much acrylic in it, you should be able to wash it in the machine and dry it, and it should all go back to the right shape. If you hand washed the sleeves and laid them out to dry, that may be one reason they stretched out.

As to the soot, to someone who doesn’t know the history it probably looks okay. I can still see a “shadow” of where it was a different, but I’m hoping over time and washings everything will fade into a common color.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience and guidance, that was a lot of good information and helps a lot!

Yes, the label indicated wash & dry. And your other comment sort of confirms my impression of how knits behave – With store-bought knits I typically do as mentioned, machine wash in a lingerie bag. I then put them in the dryer inside-out, just long enough to get the “floofiness” back, and then lay them out to dry the rest of the way. I guess part of why this works is that it gets just enough dryer time to shrink back into shape? The tricky part sometimes is setting a timer or somehow remembering to go get them after just 10-12 minutes! or I get doll clothes out of the drier.