sweater

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It’s sweater season again, and time for me to wash the sweaters I didn’t manage to get around to last spring. Yes, “wash”.  Most people are terrified to wash sweaters by hand because they think they’ll shrink them, and often avoid buying them in the first place. In reality washing wool sweaters by hand is quite simple if you know how.

images via: Sandra Backlund

Here’s a step-by-step description of how I wash my wool sweaters and hats. I’ve never ruined one by hand washing. The first thing to keep in mind is that the combined agitation of wet fabric and soap mats and shrinks i.e. “felts” wool knits, not the temperature of the water. Wet wool needs to be handled gently as the fiber is weakest when wet and easily disturbed.

Start by running hot water, but not so hot you can’t plunge your hand into the sink or tub you’re filling. (Yes, “hot”.) Add a squirt or two of mild detergent; using the same amount you would wash dishes with. Swish your hand around the sink a couple of times to blend it with the water without creating suds.

Unless you want to felt your sweater it’s important to use a mild detergent rather than soap. Soap has a high alkaline ph content and scours the wool fibers and helps mat and shrink the fabric. Dish washing liquids like Ecover, Seventh Generation or Dawn (with the blue label) work well. Dawn is used to clean birds caught in oil slicks because it doesn’t damage their feathers so it is fine for wool. Despite Woolite’s fantastic job marketing itself as a wool wash, don’t use it; it has a high alkaline content.

Next, lay your sweater down on the surface of the water and very, very gently push it down into the bowl to wet it, or you can just let it sink by itself. Do not rub, scrub, scrunch or wring the sweater. Just let it soak. The hot water and detergent will pull out dirt, grease, wood smoke and pet dander without your help. Let it soak for at least 15 minutes. Longer is Okay.

Drain the water from the sink without handling the sweater or gently reach under the sweater and pull the plug. Once the water is drained gently push down on the sweater with your palms to remove more water. Then carefully lift the lump of wet sweater and place it in another container. I wash my sweaters in the bathroom sink and transfer them to the bathtub for this step. Wool is most fragile and susceptible to felting and stretching when wet so it is important that you transfer it carefully. Resist the temptation to wring or squeeze the water out.

Rinse out the dirty sink and fill it again with hot water, this time without detergent. Place the sweater back into the sink and let soak again for another 10 or 15 minutes. Repeat the rinse process two times or until the rinse water is clean.

Place a big towel on the floor and gently move the sweater to the towel and arrange it so that it is smooth and flat. Roll it up in the towel and press hard to remove the water. I kneel on the roll for better leverage. Never twist or ring the towel – just press. You’ll need a couple of towels so you can repeat this step again. Once the excess water is removed and the sweater is just damp, carefully place it on a dry towel and gently pat the sweater back into the same shape it was before it was washed. Wet wool stretches so be careful that your sweater isn’t wrinkled or skewed to one side or the other because it will dry that way. Some people like to use special netting racks designed for drying sweaters. These are great because your sweaters will dry more quickly than on the floor.

Be patient because it can take a couple of days for a sweater to dry depending how heavy it is. I dry mine in my guest room where I won’t walk on them. Check in on it periodically to flip it over or turn a sleeve back to expose the damp areas.

As you can see it’s really not hard to wash sweaters by hand. Think too of all the money you’ll save by not sending them to the dry cleaners.

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From a series of hand knit wool sweaters and accessories made in Nepal, designed by Poppy Gall Design Studio.

3 Sweaters

To see more work by Poppy Gall Design Studio click here.

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For me, one of the best things about blogging are the tidbits that readers share. Kat O’Sullivan’s upscale, stop-dead-in-your-tracks, recycled elf sweaters and coats was one such tip! (Thanks Pen!)

Design, color and sewing machine wizard O’Sullivan pieces together vintage sweaters into amazing one-of-a-kind wearable art garments. A visit to her etsy shop will make you lust after one of her creations.

She playfully describes her pieces using words like pixie, elf, dream, circus, gypsy, butterfly, festival and rainbow. She describes herself this way, “(I’m) a free-spirited hitchhiking girl who has spent most of her life bumbling about the planet in search of senseless adventure and community. I try to infuse my work with the bohemian spirit in which I live my life. I reckon I have vagabonded through close to 100 countries. I’ve spent years on the festival trail, following the Dead, mermaid parading, moshing, granfallooning, standing on my head in India, and just staring at the campfire. I have hitchhiked to Timbuktu, Kathmandu, Kalamazoo, and pretty close to Xanadu too…”

I’m inspired by Kat to do something with all my old stained, too short, holey sweaters, but I know that whatever I come up with will pale in comparison to her bohemian gypsy couture!

Katwise1

Katwise Pixie

katwise

katwise coat

katwise faerie

katwise infinity

katwise hat

To see more Knitting inspirations click here.

To become an interactive part of Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook click here.

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2010_12_bull by OlekNew York City based artist Agata Olek spent Christmas day putting the finishing touches on a custom purple and pink crocheted sweater for Wall Street’s famous 7,100 pound bronze “Charging Bull” statue. She then spent hours stitching the sweater, with freezing fingers, to the 11 foot tall beast.

A peak at Olek’s website reveals that she is a talented and adventurous knitter, influenced by the recent craze among knitters worldwide to “yarn bomb” or “yarn storm” public places with colorful, humorous and unexpected knit art.

Olek, sends her warmest wishes. “This crocheted cover represents my best wishes to all of us. It will be a great, prosperous year with many wonderful surprises!”

The crochet covered Charging Bull is her Christmas gift to NYC, she says, and a tribute to the sculptor of the bull, Arturo Di Modica, who placed the bull on Wall Street just before Christmas of 1989.

Says Olek who couldn’t make it home to Poland for the holidays, “I wanted to make it for all those people who couldn’t make it to their families and for those people who don’t have coats and don’t have any money.”

But like much “guerrilla art,” Olek’s work was not on display for long. She says the kill-joy caretaker of the park tore it apart early in the morning. With all the snow that has fallen in New York since Christmas, I bet the bull wishes he’d been allowed to keep his sweater!

More Yarn Bombing here.

Via: CNN Money

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I just spent the day playing in a print studio making a glorious mess! Sweaters have been on my mind lately and somehow (surprise, surprise!) they worked their way into my printmaking. Collaging has also been on my mind and my sweater prints seemed like a fun place experiment mixing the two. I rather like the outcome and think they’d make nice greeting cards.

Recently I’ve been thinking it would be fun to start selling blank notecards of my work; start a little business on the side to fund my ski habit. I realize there are billions of cards on the market so I wonder if I’m being realistic? So I’m putting it out there – if these print/collages were cards, would they sell? Why or why not? Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!

©PoppyGall_GreenSweater

Green Button Sweater

©PoppyGall_OrangeSweater

Snowflake Sweater

©PoppyGall_MArbleSweater

Renaissance Sweater

My folk art prints might also make nice cards…

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On the far end of the fashion spectrum – the runway end – I’ve been spotting extraordinary knitwear for the last couple of seasons. These garments defy definition; they are architectural and sculptural, and are knit with a high level of skill and artistic vision. They resemble woolly armor.

I find them fascinating and absurdly un-wearable (for my lifestyle at least). But my fingers itch to pick up a pair of jumbo knitting needles and a luscious skein of yarn and to start knitting outside the box.

Architectural

NewKnits

To see more knitting inspiration click here

To become an interactive part of Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook click here.

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Sweater Design – An Updated Classic
How does one go about updating a classic style like an Aran knit cardigan? This a challenge as posed to me recently. I love bobble and cable stitches but wanted to design something that didn’t look like it came out of my grandmother’s sweater chest.
I made the center front placket and collar quite wide to give it a more current look. A sweatshirt-type kangaroo pocket with a decorative vine design stitched in red adds to the trend-right look.
I wanted to keep the classic Aran feel by using natural ecru wool, but liked the idea of adding a little pop of color here and there. I decided to add some simple hand embroidered accent stitches – running stitches and cross-stitches – in red yarn for the color. I also stitched on the faux-horn buttons using the red yarn.
I like the touch of the wide woven ribbon on the inside placket; it can be hidden when the sweater is buttoned or peek out when partially closed. The chocolate floral design adds a sweet touch without being too saccharine. For more about my sweater design go to my website or look in the “Knit & Purl” category on my blog.

How does one go about updating a classic style like an Aran knit cardigan? This a challenge as posed to me recently. I love bobble and cable stitches but wanted to design something that didn’t look like it came out of my grandmother’s sweater chest.

copyright Poppy Gall

I made the center front placket and collar quite wide to give it a more current look. A sweatshirt-type kangaroo pocket with a decorative vine design stitched in red adds to the trend-right look.

Pocket

I wanted to keep the classic Aran feel by using natural ecru wool, but liked the idea of adding a little pop of color here and there. I decided to add some simple hand embroidered accent stitches – running stitches and cross-stitches – in red yarn for the color. I also stitched on the faux-horn buttons using the red yarn.

IMG_1718

I like the touch of the wide woven ribbon on the inside placket; it can be hidden when the sweater is buttoned or peek out when partially closed. The chocolate floral design adds a sweet touch without being too saccharine. For more about my sweater design go to my website or look in the “Knit & Purl” category on my blog.

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Page-Sweater Trend

For more information about my knitwear design please visit www.PoppyGall.com

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