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  • V interested in this suggestion of salad-spinning a knitted item. With caution this could be excellent. In reality I’d probably be too nervous to do anything other than my tried and trusted ‘wrapping in a towel and then standing on it and shuffling around’ method.

    • I wonder if it would begin the felting process.

      • Yes, I think extreme caution would be needed for that reason.

    • It works well and I haven’t seen any felting. The centrifugal force pins the knit into place against the side of the basket so there isn’t any agitation happening.

      But, due to size constraints, it works best for small to medium items: socks, shawls, baby items, or a dainty sweater.

      • I’ve used the centrifigal force of my extra large salad spinner (aka my washing machine on “spin”) to remove excess water from an occasional large and unwieldy hand knit. Works great.

      • I agree. I salad spin my shawls and even lightweight sweaters. There’s no felting because there’s no agitation.

      • Cindy Lou, thanks for the clarification. Based upon my salad-spinning experience, wherein the leaves cling desperately to the sides of the container, that’s what I assumed would happen. A hand-cranked salad spinner is hardly an industrial centrifuge!

      • Tried the salad spinner on a scarf today and was pleased with the results. Thanks for the tip!

    • I watched a friend spinning newly dyed fiber dry. The salad spinner worked wonderfully well. Don’t see why it would felt as there isn’t agitation with change of temperature water.
      Anyone else want to weig in?

  • I made the Knit Purl Hunter Building Blocks afghan and I was forced to block and dry outside. Pinned the 12 inch squares to interfacing with a one inch grid on it. First, it was some perfect September days in Iowa with nice gentle breezes. Second, we have benches outside that have slats and thus are non-solid surfaces with air movement on all sides. It would have taken forever to block inside. No bird droppings on my project – it worked pretty well.

  • If Kay isn’t available to dance with things to start the drying, then use the whole spinner. Keep the basket in for the soaking, lift it out for the drip dry. Its just what wet fiber needs to support it.
    And it won’t felt if you use the spinner- felting requires agitation, and spinning just pushes the knitting to the edge of the basket.
    This is absolutely the best way to start the drying on things that don’t need to be soaking wet to block, like hats, socks, some scarves.

  • Love the interpretive dance! Also love your sunny spring weather. Here in New England, we’re under a fresh layer of snow.

  • I have known the sorrow of a yarn that bled to death in the pre blocking soak. It was a project I started on vacation and finished over the summer. I forced myself not to wear it fresh off the needles. Like good girls are taught by nuns, I saved myself. It was a lovely natural fingering yarn with sunny yellow and royal blue streaks. I knitted a little lattice edge on a baktus pattern. I thought it would give me a hint of summer on the coming days of fall and winter.

    In the blocking soak it turned all the natural bits a dingy green. I tried to save it with a color catcher. It still looks like it has seasickness, I can’t hardly stand to look at it.

  • Beautiful colors in that but, ahh-is that a stitch running loose at the bottom center of the last photo?

  • I salad spin my shawls and baby items all the time – no ill effects, no felting. Works beautifully.

  • I use an old enamel basin that my husband was apparently bathed in as a baby. Perfect for soaking all but the largest of items!

  • Spinning is a great idea! It works because I’ve done it! Kay! You look great! Quite slim and trim, although feminists like me aren’t supposed to remark on weight. Share how, please…

  • I can confirm that for smaller items like socks and scarves, the salad spinner works an absolute treat.

  • You two sure are having Some Fun! 🙂
    I have used a salad spinner to spin-dry socks. It worked great! Until the salad spinner broke. Didn’t know a hand-crank spinner could be defeated by wet socks, but live and learn and eat wet spinach.
    One particular dye-leaching experience stays with me, because it was the kind of handpainted gem-like indie-dyer colorway I never seem to come up with in my own dyepot experiments, and therefore was both irresistible and costly. Those socks continued to leach color for many, many, many washes. Now the colors are so muted I probably wouldn’t notice if they continue to fade…still pretty in their way, but not anything like their original glory, and not something I would have been drawn to in the first place.

  • I have a dedicated salad spinner for my smaller hand knits. I always use it on socks, hats, baby items. It works fantastically.

  • I indulged myself in one of these years ago for the sweaters and other hand wash heavies, since I can’t adjust my washer to spin only. http://www.dharmatrading.com/tools/spin-dryer.html Beats the heck out of putting a sweater in a pillow case and standing outside spinning it around like a crazy woman. Not nearly as fun as the salad spinner, though.

  • LOVE the interpretive shawl dance. And now I feel like I’m really missing something by not soaking stuff outdoors.

    Aaah – the joys of the OXO spinner. I keep one in my laundry room for soaking knits. I also spin things that are small enough. You have to be careful about how you distribute them before you spin so they don’t get distorted. I just make sure things are balanced and up against the edge, no fabric crossing the middle. I did that once, with a baby surprise sweater. Really stretched it out, but it was fine after I soaked it again.

  • Looks like you guys had a blast on a great spring day!! Send some this way (Minnesota) 🙂

  • I use a salad spinner for small stuff. I also spin larger items in the washer–just dump the whole tub, water and all, in the washer, fast forward to the spin part of the cycle, and spin for a minute, maybe less–like a giant salad spinner. Voila! Ready for blocking, no wet towels everywhere.

  • I regularly buy salad spinners at thrift shops because they are absolutely awesome for spinning the water out of fleece when one is washing the entire fleece one has purchased in a direct from the sheep condition. Alas, a spinner basket full of fleece is much heavier than a spinner basket full of lettuce and salad spinners eventually do not spin so well. Thus the quest for replacements. But I would not hesitate to spin a hand knit of appropriate size in your salad spinner and I imagine that your highly recommended one would do a great job.

  • I use an old IKEA stockpot for washing handknits.

    A friend of mine recently had a soaking disaster with a cowl made of Colinette Jitterbug. She is very sad and it has made me skeptical of the beautiful Jitterbug skeins at the LYS.

    I keep those interlocking mats in my bedroom and block next to my bed. Cats are usually deterred by the wetness of the thing. I’ve idly thought about blocking outside but it’s just so dusty and windy here in OK.

  • I, too, have known the sorrow of yarn destroyed by a good soak. I will not name the maker, but I will say that it was a well known name at the time, and the hand yed red yarn cost a lot of money. I took the yarn with me to knit on while waiting for my husband to have surgery at Mayo Clinic. As I sat in the hallway of the hospital, the red dye came off on my hands to such an extent that two different residents stopped to ask if I was alright, as it looked as though the blood flow to my hands was compromised. (I am not making this up). My Brittany wooden sock needles were dyed red, permanently. So when I washed the socks, it was only with a very quick soak, as I watched the water turn the color of blood. I wore them and my feet turned red. with the next washing, I put them in a small bowl to soak but was interuppted by the phone. When I returned, 20 minutes later, the socks had turned an truly unattractive muddy red color with no variation in colors…just muddy red.

    I had purchased this yarn at the LYS where I worked. The owner looked at the socks and decided that we couldn’t sell this, and called the company to discuss returning the other red yarn from that order. To their credit, the dyer called me and questioned me about the experience, and how I had handled (mishandled?) the yarn. The ysent me a skein of yarn in a different color way, which didn’t run. They did their best, but of course, they couldn’t recover my knitting time. The needles are still (15 years later) red.

    The moral to this tory is that after you knit your swatch with your lovely hand dyed yarn, let it soak for a long time. Give it a chance to bleed. You’ll be grateful later.

    • I had the same thing happen to me and I bet it was with the same yarn. There was a big discussion on Ravelry about this particular colorway and what might work to stop the bleeding. The whole experience put me off that dyer.

  • Spin away my friends. I’ve been doing it for years. For small things, use the salad spinner and then dump out the water and spin like a madwoman. For big things, use a top load washer that you can manually adjust the settings on. Fill the tub, add the knitting (make sure it is evenly distributed) and let it sit. Drain it and spin for a minute or two. If you are using a soap that you need to rinse (heavens!), fill it, put the knitting in, soak it, TAKE THE KNITTING OUT!!!, fill it again, put the knitting in again, soak it again. Keep doing this until the soap is gone and then give it a good spin. The important thing is to take the knitting out. You don’t ever want to run water directly on your knitting. P.S. My BFF is a fiber engineer and works at Consumer Reports. She taught me this.

  • I am just finishing a cowl that was supposed to be a Christmas gift (I know, I know). All that I have left to do is the 3 needle bind off. It’s about 9″ wide and 25″ in circumference. Before I send it off to my friend (yes she’s still talking to me), do I need to soak it and block it? Just soak it? Do nothing? I would appreciate any advice, as this part of knitting is not my strong suit. Thanks.

    LoveDiane

  • For my Stopovers I soaked in Eucalan, gently squeezed then did the rolled towel foot reflexology. I stepped and stepped, then repeated with a new towel. Sweater was nearly dry and blocked beautifully on rubber mats. I do like the spinner idea for scarves and hats!

  • Y’all are having too much fun out there. I think the sunshine has gone to your heads!

    I soak all my handknits in my kitchen sink, and when it’s nice out, I do block outside. After many years of blocking, a bird pooped on my knitting. That stain does NOT come out. Photo here: http://pdxknitterati.com/2015/06/17/blocking-a-cautionary-tale/

    Did that stop me from blocking outdoors? No, but I have a new strategy: http://pdxknitterati.com/2015/07/17/pink-yarn-wine-and-a-pdx-bridge-ramble/

    BTW, as far as sunshine not touching our precious knits, does that thought only apply to wet hand knits? Or are we to live like vampires, and never see the light of day? Just curious!

  • I dye a lot of my own yarn and have in fact done my own self in with the dark colors bleeding all over the lighter ones. I’ve learned to ALWAYS add a goodly sploosh of white vinegar to the soaking water. Yes it will smell slightly pickle-y when wet but surprisingly pretty much fades when dry. I only do this on the first wash, after that things seem to be OK.

  • Beautiful!

    and using the kitchen sink is a good reminder place. If you need to eat, that is.
    Of course, you can be assured that one of your children will say something negative about how wool smells when wet.

  • BLESS YOU FOR CROPPING EXPOSED UNDERBELLY OUT OF SOME OF THOSE PHOTOS.

    I LUV U SO MUCH.

    U R THE BEST.

    (KAY)

    • Kay, you are HILARIOUS and beautiful….

  • You are so much fun, both of you!

  • There is so much pollen in Chicago right now…I’dont dare dry anything outside!

  • The shawl is lovely! And so GREEN!!

    Too bad you didn’t get video of Kay’s interpretive dance. Looks like it is based on the Dance of the Seven Veils, but using only one shawl instead. Would have liked to see how much Watusi, Frug, Harlem Shuffle, Cuban Slide, and/or Twerk she incorporated into the dance.

    My sister reports that the salad spinner (even the big one next to the clothes dryer) works well on cottons, linens, and other plant-based fibers. More water is extracted, so they dry a bit faster once blocked. (Also, don’t block in yard because squirrels, birds, toddlers, and doggies will walk/sit/lie/poop/pee on the handknits!)

  • I also spin small things in my salad spinner. It works so well I up sized my spinner from ikea to OXO.

    Works like a charm, lovies. Give it a whirl.

  • OMG I thought everyone used their salad spinner for spinning out excess water after soaking! I have AlWAYS used mine, unless I have too large a project and then I spin it out in the washing machine final spin cycle. Easy to do with a washer as ancient as mine! I also spin out yarn skeins after I finish spinning in the salad spinner.

    In my experience, the project never felts or even looks like it’s been under any kind of stress. It just comes out very nearly dry after 4-5 cycles of spinning at increasing speeds.

  • Somewhere out there is a spinner about the size of a dorm refrigerator to use for spinning water from bits of fleeces and handspun yarn. I wouldn’t even know how to Google, this but I have actually seen one at Spinning Guru’s house.

Travel Alert:

Join us for a festive dinner at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago featuring Clara Parkes and us! Friday, March 9. Details here.