Superwash Part 2: How Do They Do That?

September 23, 2019
Jillian Moreno is a walking encyclopedia of facts about yarn and 1970s television.

Leave a Comment

17 Comments
  • Thank u so much for this as I have been in a dilemma over superwash. Having made several sweaters with both types I must say I enjoy wearing superwash more than untreated wool. I was a staunch no chemical person with my wool for years but finally realized many items I didn’t wear as often due to needing another garment under them so they sat ina drawer more than being worn. Or the thought of finding a place to dry a sweater etc was too much to think about. The final straw that broke the camels back was when I made my grown daughter a lovely long cardigan with beautiful wool from Quince and Co only to have her disappointed she couldn’t wear it without something under it as it was uncomfortable next to her skin. She wears it in cooler months and now to find a place to dry a long cardigan?? It will be dry cleaned, and sitting around not being worn as often as my daughter envisioned.

  • After growing up with sheep and shearing sheep, washing fleece, spinning wool and knitting handspun …. I have to admit that now, as an adult … I LOVE superwash! I’ve done my time with wool and felting … now when I knit with superwash, I don’t care that my 5yo kid tosses their jumper into the washing machine as it never shrinks!

  • Another fabulous article by Jillian! Very informative.

  • I do appreciate your addressing the environmental concerns. Thank you!

  • That’s nice to call it drapy instead of droopy! I am so seduced by the superwash colors but then end up frustrated when it doesn’t have the bounce and body of non-superwash wool. That thing where it stands away from my skin just a little and gives me breathing space? I love that about wool. Anyway – this description will help me predict what the different yarns will do so thank you!

  • Wow! Thank you so much. This is a lot to digest, but so very helpful. With a big family and friends to knit for, I want them to enjoy wearing the knits and not worry about care of them. Mindful of the processes to. Who says knitting is just an art? Obviously it is a science too; the whole enchilada!

  • I simply and wholeheartedly appreciate your posts. So science-y, thorough, and thoughtful. Thank you.

  • What a great explanation- especially regarding the grist involved and drapiness of superwash. Thank you!

  • I’m such a nerd that I love these articles. I am a very tactile person. If the hand doesn’t feel right, back it goes. So why is the combination of merino wool and cotton so washable and delightful to work with…i.e. Spud and Chloe worsted weight. The price is high but the quality is worth the price ?

  • Once again, a fascinating article! It just reminds me of how much I DON’T know about yarn! Thank you!

  • I thought all polymers were plastics. Don’t they all break down eventually and end up in the environment as pollution?

    • Polymer mostly just means that the component pieces repeat, but the component pieces don’t have to be plastics. I went to a talk last week when the chemist speaking referred to proteins as polymers … I was just as surprised as you!

  • great article. However, it doesn’t quite address what I find so very frustrating about super wash wool. (I won’t use it). The articles made from super wash won’t block. When wet, the garment stretches out beyond any reasonable “shapability,” leaving you with a garment made for a giant. I cannot reshape it, even to proper measurements, and instead of blocking a shape, I end up throwing the garment in the dryer, only to have it come out exactly as it came off the needles — good or bad. How I love the tweaking that is possible with wet wool, or steam, and the ability to shape (either stretching or pinching) the individual areas of a sweater or dress or skirt. Give me old fashioned wool every single time!

  • Thank you for another very informative article. Many years ago, when I started knitting I stocked up on super wash wool. I was enamoured with the colours, soft touch and washability. Plus, my lys was pretty much filled with super wash wool. Now, I’m more aware of the intrinsic qualities of super wash and regular wool thanks in large part to knowledge gained from articles written by experts such as yourself.

  • Wow, interesting article. I did realize that superwash processing is not super environmentally friendly, but alternative “wools” made from plastic are not a good alternative. Superwash has made it great for me to wear wool. Growing up, I could never wear wool because it would make me have a rash and sometimes welts. Don’t get me started on mohair and angora! That gives me hives! I’m so happy to have superwash in my life and I am glad they’re making waves in discovering new ways to make it more friendly to the planet!

  • Where is the scratch and sniff app when you need it!!! Lots of good info here and only reinforces why I don’t superwash except for baby items. It grows and grows

  • I heard superwash eventually loses it’s superwash proerties. Is that true? Does it depend on which process was used?

    Also it seems using non-superwash or only organic superwash might be much better for the environment. Is that true. Knitters should be made aware of this if it is.

    I find superwash grows a lot. That’s one of the many reasons I try to stay away from it for anything but shawls ir socks. Even tho I habdwash all my knit stuff regardless.