Last winter, my boyfriend asked me if I could knit hat and neck warmer sets for a couple of friends' children. Usually, I never take orders, because I find that it totally takes away the pleasure of knitting.
On the other hand Blake and Lexie are such adorable children so I accepted without hesitation.
I chose the SHEPHERD'S WOOL for the softness of its merino and its large choice of colors. For the pattern, I adapted the BONNET LÔ in a size 6 – 9 years. The sets were ready for Christmas. The kids really liked their gifts and were very cute with their winter outfits. Mission accomplished!
Little anecdote: A few years ago a friend of mine was pregnant with a little boy. I, who like to knit birth gifts, quickly knitted a JAILHOUSE CARDIGAN in Royal Alpaca from Illimani Yarns. How sweet for a newborn! I added a label with washing instructions and a small bottle of EUCALAN SOAP . A few weeks later, she sadly wrote to me saying that her housekeeper had machine washed and dried the cardigan. The cardigan ended up felted before it was even worn!
I am still traumatized by this story, so much so that I suggested that the parents wash the sets at the end of winter.
Why does wool felt?
Sheep wool resembles human hair. It is a hair made up of keratin covered with scales of cuticles. Sheep naturally secrete lanolin which has two functions: the first, to moisturize and lubricate the hair and the second, to seal the joints of the scales to prevent the hairs from tangling and clinging together.
Shearing the sheep and washing the wool frees it of its natural lanolin, which makes the cuticle scales stick. And this explains the propensity of wool to felt. Due to the presence of scales, the wool can clump together when subjected to humidity, heat or pressure. The scales cling to each other and the hairs agglomerate to form a hard and thick fabric: the felt. The resistance of wool decreases if it is immersed in a bath of boiling water, where it shrinks and hardens.
Wool therefore needs special care and care. How to take care of knitted things with so much love?
Here are the steps:
1. Fill a large bowl with water that is hot enough, but not too hot; you have to be able to leave your finger in it for 10 seconds without getting burned. Add EUCALAN (I prefer the scent of lavender and eucalyptus for its anti-moth properties).
2. Soak your knit for about 20 minutes.
3. Take it out of the water (be careful not to twist it). Wrap the knit in a clean towel (as if it were a burrito) and squeeze out excess water. Dry flat on a clean towel. NEVER hang a wet knit because the fiber could stretch and deform under the action of the weight of the water. Also protect your knitting from the sun and heat sources.
Why take all this time and care if we can use superwash wool, you ask me?
The superwash wool is treated with an oxidizing bath which attacks the scales of the cuticles to chemically modify the external appearance of the pile in order to make the fiber anti-felting. It's really practical for accessories that will have a lot of use, such as socks for example (washing woolen socks by hand is a great luxury, but who has the time?) or to make the life of mums easier. We gain in efficiency on the one hand, but we lose some of the natural properties of the fiber.
Wool is truly a magical fiber and stopping for a moment to care for knitted items with lots of love can become a ritual that makes knitting fun last longer.