Caring for hand-knits

Suzie Blackman
Friday, 9 February 2018

We’ve just updated our shopping info with care tips for garments made from our hand-dyed yarns and I thought it might be useful to share some of our general advice with our blog readers (I certainly wish someone had told me not to dry sweaters on hangers when I was a new knitter!).

Many people also believe that hand-dyed yarns require special treatment. Ours do not! They are colour-fast so treat them exactly as you would commercial yarns (with the exception of our neon colours, which do need a little extra care).


Wool yarns labelled “superwash” can be machine washed on a wool programme at 40°C. In fact, we recommend machine washing over hand washing (provided that your machine has a wool setting) because modern machines are so water and energy efficient than they use less than hand-washing. Do not however be tempted to use anything other than a dedicated wool programme, which are specially designed to keep garments fully submerged during agitation in order to prevent damage.

Silk blends are a little more delicate, but these can be machine washed on a wool programme at a 30°C with a spin speed of max 800 RPM.

Our neon dyes are less colour-fast than regular colours. To keep them looking their brightest and best, we recommend that you hand-wash in cool or cold water, even if the yarn itself is machine washable.

Hand washing

If you are hand washing, take care to use tepid water. It should feel cooler than you would use if you were running a bath. Make sure garments are completely submerged while agitating. An 800 RPM washing machine spin cycle is useful to remove the excess water from hand-washed garments, making them much easier to dry.

Detergent & fabric conditioner

It is important to use a special detergent for wool, silk and other protein fibres such as Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid.

General purpose biological detergents should not be used as they contain enzymes designed to digest protein-based food stains and over time, these can damage protein fibres. We also advise against using general purpose non-biological detergents as these contain normally contain bleaching agents to replace the enzymes, which over time can fade colours. [That said, we have been using Ecover Non-Bio Laundry Liquid on our woollens for a number of years with no discernable fading.]

Use fabric conditioner as you like for your regular wash. Manufacturers claim that fabric conditioner can help wool maintain its natural elasticity, reducing wear and pilling (bobbling). We have no idea if that’s true but it certainly adds an extra softness, especially to garments made from our Bluefaced Leicester wool.


Knitted garments should be dried flat, preferably on a mesh sweater dryer like this, or this.

Never wring out a woollen garment, and never dry on a clothes hanger as this is likely to result in the garment becoming permanently misshapen.

We recommend natural air drying because it is the most gentle and energy-efficient way to dry your clothes. We have never tested how our yarns hold up in a tumble dryer so tumble at your own risk!

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.

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