Why Use Wool Wash?

Bath Fiber Wash by Olive Knits

If there was such a thing as wool wash back in the mid-1990s, I’d certainly never heard of it. In fact, I don’t think a single one of my knits went anywhere near water for the first two decades of my knitting life. The idea never crossed my mind, not even when I had to smack the dust off the yarn I bought on the bottom shelf at True Value Hardware. Not even then.

It wasn’t until my twenties that I finally got my hands on real wool. The good stuff. I was hooked.

Good intentions + nice yarn + real life meant that I spent a year knitting my first adult sweater. I had three small children and very little knitting time. That sweater was part albatross, part hope, part dreams. It was a vision in cream-colored seed stitches, with one notable flaw: it pulled on the bias. Not a little. A lot. I remember staring at that sea of stitches trying to use my hands (and the power of sheer will) to force it into shape. Maybe if I just don’t look at it for a few months. Maybe it’ll fix itself. 

That’s a hard nope.

What I didn’t know at the time was this: soaking and blocking that sweater could have saved it. But we don’t know what we don’t know, and friend – I simply didn’t know that the solution to my sweater problem was … a bath. I pulled the whole thing out and mourned the apparent end of my very short sweater knitting career. Socks? Fine. Beanies? Fine. Sweaters? I guess not.

It took years of knitting – and a better understanding of fiber processing – for me to realize that soaking your knits with a gentle, mild cleanser is the only way to really finish a project. 

Why do our knits need a bath?

  • Fiber processing and dyeing isn’t always a tidy business, and there’s always a chance that excess dye or dust will still be present on your fiber.
  • Yarn gets wound, labeled, sorted, stored and shipped – there are potentially many pairs of hands involved in bringing those skeins into being before they even make it to the yarn shop.
  • Yarn is sorted, stored and organized at the yarn shop and potentially handled by other customers before it makes its way home to you. 
  • Then – if you’re anything like me – your knitting may be in and out of project bags, sitting on chairs, occasionally falling onto the floor, or even subjected to an accidental dribble of coffee (or – let’s be honest – wine).

What does wool wash do for your knitting?

  • Fiber wash gently cleanses and relaxes the fiber.
  • Some fiber wash is also designed to soften, which can further help to relax the stitches and make some fiber more wearable for those with light sensitivities.
  • Fiber wash may also include ingredients that are found to have naturally protective qualities to help deter moths and other critters.
  • Regular soaking and blocking (at least once a year) can keep your hand knits fresh, clean and free of pests that might harm the fiber. 
  • Soaking and blocking can make a world of difference for the finished look, feel and fit of your hand knits. The transformation can be quite incredible! It opens up the pattern, smooths out uneven stitches and creates better drape.

Why Bath Fiber Wash?

I knit dozens of sweaters a year (not to mention shawls and accessories), so soaking and blocking is a HUGE part of my life. There’s almost always something on the blocking mats at my house. I’m also very particular about ingredients – knitting is an investment of time and resources, and I want my projects to last a lifetime.

I combined my background as a soap maker with my passion for natural fiber and safe, conscientious ingredients and created the wool wash that I wanted for my own hand knits: Bath Fiber Wash. It gently cleanses, leaves your projects feeling as soft as can be, comes in a range of dreamy scents, and can help keep your knits fresh and safe. 

If you haven’t fallen in love with the results of soaking and blocking your knits, give it a try next time you finish a sweater. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes!

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