Posted in Craft tips

Caring for Wool, Part 1

It’s that time of year. Gifts are being knit, crocheted or woven – often at breakneck speed to meet self-imposed deadlines. (Unless you are one of those who plan their gifts throughout the year …)

Regardless of your process, most of you are making gifts from wool which has special handling requirements. Everyone has their favorite horror story of the gifts they have bestowed, lovingly and painstakingly crafted, only to have the item tossed in the washer and accidentally felted. Can’t you just imagine the grief of seeing your cabled scarf ending up in the dog kennel because of improper care!

Wool garments have been in decline in the past century, so it is no wonder that modern families don’t know how to care for them. A recent video trip down Saville Row in London showed men who were proud recipients of their grandfather’s well-cared-for wool suits, something you don’t often see with polyester. Hence, a little education is in order when we give our gifts.

Fabric Care Symbols

When giving your gifts, it is nice to include care instructions. Your ball band will often have these printed on them. A glance at the symbols can be confusing if you don’t understand them. Here is a little cheat sheet.

While there are more components than these, the most basic are the Washer and Dryer.

The next step helps you determine if and how to use them. Look for a series of dots for temperature, though an X indicates these shouldn’t be used.

A close up of a logo

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For example, these show to machine wash in cold water, but do not tumble dry

The Cleaning Institute and the Textile Affairs websites have more information on cleaning than you thought possible. I learned a lot about general cleaning too.

For a complete listing of care symbols, download this PDF.

Wool Specific Care Tips

For wool specific care, you can’t beat American Wool. This Australian site, Woolmark,  is so well done and full of care tips.

Whether it’s your favorite suit, upholstered chair, or performance wear, the  American Wool Council has care tips for your wool,

Check the care label for stain and spot removal instructions and try to treat as soon as possible. First, dampen the area with cold water or seltzer, then blot dry with an absorbent clean cloth. If that doesn’t do the trick, here are some more specific tips on how to properly treat a variety of stains.

 COCKTAILS

  • Dab lightly with an absorbent, lint-free cloth to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Sponge the area sparingly with a mix of warm water and 1/2 rubbing alcohol.

RED WINE OR FRUIT JUICE

  • Immediately dab the stain with a 3:1 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water.

BLACK COFFEE

  • Mix equal parts alcohol and white vinegar and soak a lint-free cloth in the solution. Gently dab the stained area then apply pressure with an absorbent cloth to draw the coffee from the fabric.

CHOCOLATE, WHITE COFFEE OR TEA

  • Dab gently around the edge of the stain with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. Then follow instructions for black coffee.

BUTTER, GREASE OR SAUCES

  • Lightly scrape the surface of the stain with a spoon or knife to remove any excess oil. Then soak a lint-free cloth in rubbing alcohol and gently dab the area.

BLOOD

  • Remove excess blood immediately with a damp sponge, then gently dab the area using undiluted white vinegar followed by cold water.

INK OR BALLPOINT PEN

  • Dab gently with a lint-free cloth soaked in white spirit. Repeat the action with a cloth soaked in diluted white vinegar or rubbing alcohol.

LIPSTICK OR MAKEUP

  • Rub gently with a lint-free cloth soaked in turpentine or spot cleaning spray or fluid. Rinse with mild soapy water. 

In part 2 we will look at why we like wool and some its characteristics and uses; part 3 will cover some questions we have about superwash wool.

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