Whenever you’re in the backyard on a spring day with a handknit just completed and in need of a good soak, there are a few things to remember in order to slam dunk the handknit-soaking process.
Weather. Sunny day makes it more pleasant. After being indoors for four months straight, it is shocking to discover that an entire new season has shown up. What is with all these buds and shoots? Those fetching small birds dangling straw as they fly by? It is so bright out here.
Container. Definitely use the base of the OXO Salad Spinner that your husband spontaneously and surprisingly ordered for you after reading a review of it online. He assured you it would make your lettuce, like, really dry, and it turns out that he’s right. I have not attempted to salad-spin a handknit. Yet. Has anyone tried this? I have to say I’m pretty curious now about how that would go.
Water. Clean water > dirty water for this. That’s just a general rule of thumb when it comes to trying to clean something. Don’t be using your graywater or rain barrel runoff. There’s a limit to how environmental you can go with this process.
Soapy Stuff. We understand that there is a fine line between Soak and Eucalan. Actually, we don’t really. I buy these sweet-smelling potions mostly because they smell so great. These no-rinse washes are crucial for giving a gentle bath for your handknit—with no rinsing agitation required. We do know that Eucalan has LANolin in it, making it best to use for wool.
Let It Soak in a Visible Place. I once forgot about a blanket soaking in the bathtub for three days. It turned out superfluffy, though I wouldn’t want to repeat that experiment. Put your OXO Salad Spinner base somewhere where you’ll see it before three days pass. A half hour is usually enough to get natural fibers to relax, if you’re the fidgety, git-r-done type.
Possibly Dye Something Else While You’re At It. Depending on your yarn, the post-soak water will have a color to it. I’ve never had a yarn bleed so much that it was no longer beautiful. But I’m curious to hear if anyone else has had that dreadful experience. What you see here is a good cautionary tale that you should watch out about soaking light and dark items at the same time. I can only imagine the heartache of a light yarn taking on a color it wasn’t supposed to be.
Flinging. I do not actually recommend this; wet yarns are tender and susceptible to stress. Here, however, I wasn’t about to tell Kay to stop dancing around the backyard with my Hedgehog Fibres Alegria Shadow Shawl, colorway Pod.
Blocking: Take it Indoors. There are purist reasons for not blocking knitwear outside, along the lines of avoiding direct sunlight on your precious precious thing. There’s a more practical consideration: birds pooping on your stuff. Why risk it? Why go into the line of fire, when every robin in town is ready to take aim at your handknit? Robins live for a challenge like this.
Enjoy the Ride. Once out of its bath, your handknit needs to be blocked. That’s a tale for another day—when Kay is finished with her interpretive dance.