Caring for Knitwear

When it's time to reach for a cosy jumper, do you find woollen fibres irritating?

Why not try lambswool or merino wool? These are much finer than regular wool and give a very soft feel. The finer properties of merino wool can help to reduce the itchiness that many people associate with traditional wool, making it very comfortable for wear as a base layer against the skin.


Lambswool is a much-loved 'winter woolly' which has been around for centuries and is still renowned for warmth, flexibility and strength. Proven historically through functionality with fishermen and mountaineers.


It has antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties too so it’s perfect for sensitive skin. An excellent heat regulator too, keeping you warm during winter and cool in the summer. The hydroscopic quality also has the ability to absorb moisture away from the body so, due to this unique structure, it can help reduce odours whilst keeping you warm and dry.


However, lambswool and merino wool must be cared for differently to everyday laundry.


Hand Washing

Turn garment inside out and submerge in a solution of warm water and gentle wool wash product – not regular detergent. It’s important the water is not hot. Gently squeeze the suds through it. Do not rub, wring or stretch the garment. Spot treat any problem areas with a drop of neat detergent and massage gently with fingertips.

Rinse in warm water and repeat as necessary until the water runs clear. It’s important to keep the water temperature even throughout the hand washing cycle. Moving from warm water to cold water will damage the fibres.

Gently press water out and place garment lengthwise on a clean, dry towel. Roll up the towel and press to squeeze out excess water – do not wring or twist. Unroll the towel and smooth the garment into its original shape. Lay it flat on a clean dry towel and allow it to air-dry.

Machine Washing

Over time machine-washed garments, even on a wool cycle, will lose their soft appeal due to the abrasive tumbling of machine washing. However, some wools are treated so they can be safely machine-washed. It is always best to check the manufacturer’s care instructions and if in any doubt then hand washing is safest. If the wool is safe to machine wash, follow the method below:

Turn garment inside out and use a wash bag to protect it from abrasion. Place in machine and select the most delicate setting for wash and spin at -30ºC. Advantage of a delicate machine washing is that the temperature remains the same throughout.

Lay garment flat on a clean dry towel and smooth it into its original shape. Allow it to air-dry flat.

Dry Cleaning

Wool can be dry cleaned and the advantage is this can deter moths due to the chemical smell. The disadvantage is the chemicals used do undermine the super soft feel.

Care and Storage

Bobbling effect occurs when fibres become knotted together. It’s caused by friction during wear or by the build-up of static electricity underneath other garments. These bobbles – known as ‘pills’ – can either be picked off or shaved off using a wool razor or lambswool comb.

If you’re storing for any length of time, fold the garment around tissue and seal in a plastic storage box. Clean garments before storage, as fresh stains that may not be visible will oxidise and become fixed during storage. Using mothballs, lavender or cedar chips help protect against moths.

Hanging

Hanging can create shoulder dimples and distort the shape of the garment (fig.1). Fold the garment in half vertically; line up sleeves and position the hanger so the hook sits between the arm and body of the sweater (fig. 2). Wrap both sleeves over the shoulder of the hanger (fig. 3 & 4). Longer length sweaters can be secured by tucking into the bottom loop of the hanger.


If you're not a fan of tight-fitting jumpers and sweaters but need to reach for warmer fibres, try a blouson style jumper with batwing sleeves - this is a great style if you prefer a loose fit.


Adding a scarf is a very stylish, versatile fashion accessory and a way to maximize your investment in good basic pieces while keeping your look interesting.

How many times can you wear a plain sweater? It can look new and different when it’s paired with different scarves! See the online COLOUR SHOP for a variety of scarves all coded according to your season type so you can be confident you're choosing something which will flatter.

Sue Burton

Award-winning Stylist & Image Consultant