How To: Washing & Blocking wool hat

August 1, 2012 at 11:53 am 3 comments

Gannon Hat designed by Kris Carson
Photo is digitally modified to highlight cable pattern, color not completely true

I am a huge proponent of washing your projects following finishing them. I know that I take my knitting projects places such as the lake and the park for playdates. After being in and out of my bag, they are not in the most pristine condition. Now this really isn’t a problem with the types of yarns that I usually use ie 100% wools and cottons or natural and manufactured fiber blends. I figure that when the fibers which where once on sheep out in the rainy pasture or cotton is in a dusty field, they can handle the playground. But my projects do need a bath by the end of the project even if I am going to put the item on my four year old son.

In the Knit ‘n Needle Yarn shoppe, the home of Polkadotsheep.com, staff are often asked how to washing finished projects. I thought perhaps readers of this blog have that same question.  So I put together a little tutorial for you.

First I want to tell you a little about the hat in this tutorial. It is the Gannon Hat from Kris Carson (kniftyred on Ravelry). We met Kris in the lobby of our hotel at TNNA by asking her a question about something else. We got to chatting about her designs and she shared them with us. In our search for new yarns, we picked out Harrisville Designs New England Highland. I decided that Kris’ Gannon hat was a perfect match for this yarn.

Pattern: Gannon Hat (accompanied with matching mittens & cowl). Available in the shoppe and on Ravelry

Yarn: Harrisville Designs New England Highland

Hat prior to washing

I used less than one skein for the hat. If you want to make the entire set you would need three skeins of the New England Highland.

On to the washing of the Gannon hat:

Step 1: Gather your necessary items: container big enough for project full of lukewarm water and a washing soap suitable for delicate handwash items. We highly recommend a no rinse wash, Eucalan Woolwash.

Step 1: Lukewarm water, Eucalan Woolwash and hat

Step 2: Allow item to absorb water.

Step 2: Gently press item into container to help begin to absorb water.

Step 3: Let your item soak for at least 15 minutes, longer won’t hurt the item but you do want to give time for all the fibers to absorb water and to relax.

Step 3: Soaking

Step 4: Draining water. For smaller items like this hat I will sometimes dump them into a colander to drain. If I am washing in a sink I simply pull the plug and let gravity do its thing.

Step 5: Removing most of excess water. Gently squeeze or press item to remove water. DO NOT wring out item.

Step 5: Gently squeeze out excess water.

Step 6: Removing final amount of water. You want to remove as much water as possible. After doing this step, your item should feel damp and have no water dripping out.  This greatly aid in drying time and blocking out item to final measurements. This step has two parts.

Step 6A: Roll item up in a dry towel.

Step 6B: Step on towel roll, pressing out as much water as possible.

Here is the hat washed but not dry. It is hard to see how different the hat looks and feels in pictures. But the stitches have even out, my stretched stitches in the cables have moved into place and hat feels soft even wet.

Damp washed hat.

The steps after this are usually referred to as blocking. How you block an items really depends upon what you have made. But blocking always includes shaping the project into the form you wish it to have upon drying. So you can see how this would be different for a lace shawl than for a hat as an example. I hope to create more tutorials that are specific to different types of blocking but for now we are going with the hat.

Step 1: I laid the hat flat and just formed into the shape I want it to have dry. How you do this will depend on the type of hat. Here I wanted the hat to be in the classic stocking hat shape. This is what you can see above.

Step 2: Hats often look better if you can dry them as if they are on a head.  I lightly stuffed the top of the hat with plastic shopping bags. You will want your “model” to have a slightly smaller circumference than the intended wearer’s head. This will allow the hat to stretch more naturally once it is completely dry and worn. Often when you stretch a wet hat to the wearer’s head circumference , it will be too big when dried.

Step 2: Lightly stuff hat with plastic shopping bags to hold it in a head like shape while drying.

Step 3: Place hat on something 3D to hold it while it dries. I usually end up using something from my kitchen for this. Mixing bowls, canisters, jars and plates (for berets and tams) have all been used by me. Here it is my 70s yellow Tupperware canister.

Step 3: Place hat on another object to help it hold its shape while it dries.

Step 4: Allow to air dry in a safe place. I often do this step at night and just let things dry on the kitchen counter or table overnight.

The finished hat is the one at the beginning of this post.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it will encourage you to wash your hand knit or crocheted projects. I promise you will be happier with your finished objects.

Are there other topics you would like to see tutorials about? Let us know in the comments.

Happy Knitting and Washing up!

~Angela M.

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Entry filed under: New, Patterns, Projects, Tutorials / How to, Yarn. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

PolkaDotSheep yarns in Knit ‘n Needle habitat “Knit what you wear and wear what you knit”

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