Hand washing for delicate fibers:
Ithaca Bar Soap and Liquid Soap Bar Concentrate are great for hand washing wool, silk, and delicates. I am a textile artist in my spare time, and work with a lot of wool and silk fabric, yarn and roving. I use natural plant based dyes and am also a wet felter. Our soap is gentle enough to leave the integrity of the fibers, but strong enough to clean.
Here’s how I wash my fibers:
1. Fill a sink or wash basin with cool - warm ish water, swishing around the soap to get good suds.
2. Place in garments, making sure there is enough water for the fabric to swish around freely. If the suds get eaten up immediately, your garments are a little dirtier than you thought (wool can be like that) and you may want a little more soap. Soak for 30-60 minutes and swish around 1 or 2 times.
3. Drain and squeeze garments. Avoid twisting garments, especially knits. That will stress and distort the garment's shape. Fill basin again with cool-sh water, swish around. Repeat this 2-5 times to get all of the soap out.
4. Fill basin 1 more time and add some white vinegar - anywhere from 1/4 c to 2 c depending on how much fiber you are washing at one time. Add your rinsed garments, swish around and let soak for 10 minutes. Rinse again.
5. Squeeze out all excess water. Lay a towel on the floor, lay garments in the towel, roll it up and gently step on it. This easily squeezes out all of the water. Dry either laying flat or hanging depending on the garment.
Hand knit should always lay flat. They will stretch and become misshapen. Tightly woven garments can be hung. However, loosely woven garments may stretch out the shoulders if hung on hangers.
Merino wool has a lot of spring and memory, because of its short curly fiber. My special Falklands Island Merino has a 3 inch staple length, which is very long for a Merino. When it's doing its soak washing, it will activate the spring (curl) in the fibers and it will need to be blocked again. Wet wool can also get overstretched from the water weight. It is important, especially for hand knits, to make sure you get all of the water out. I have a front loader washing machine, and will spin my hand knit sweaters before blocking them.
What is blocking? Blocking is shaping your knits to highlight the garment shape and stitches, if there are lace and or cables. Proper blocking will hold whatever shape you form it into, until the next washing. I use an iron on the wool setting to create steam on the wet wool which will aid in getting the shape to hold. When doing this take care to put very little pressure on on the wool. Too much pressure from a hot iron on wet wool will flatten out stitches and can cause the yarn to felt.
Linen has a mind of it's own. Some linen I wash in cold water in my washing machine. Hand sewn, heavy weight linen, like the scooter shirt pictured above, and loose weave light weight linen, I prefer to hand wash and hang dry.
You can iron the garment after it's dry using steam, but linen has a mind of its own and may not iron flat. I prefer to straighten out seams, hems, button plackets, pockets and cuffs by hand.
Good bar soap is an essential as a whole body soap wash. It's economical, luxurious, and effective. When selecting a bar of soap, look for simple ingredients with pleasing essential oil aromas and lots of sudsy lather. Sudsing all the way down to a sliver, over 3-4 months of daily use, is key in good bar soap. Try Ithaca Soap
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soap and money
How much soap money does a shower cost you?
Let's say you spend $3.00 on a bar of soap and it lasts for 7 days of showers. That's $.43 per shower.
For your next bar of soap, you spend $8.50. That seems like a lot of money, except it lasts for 8 weeks or 56 showers. That's $.15 cents per shower. F.Y.I.: One bar lasts me and Andy 6 weeks of daily showers - 84 showers.
Good soap is cost effective. More
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