sweater care and storage

June 05, 2010

This is a re-post from 2010, but since I just finished this business, I thought it might be time to share again.

I'm often asked how I store and care for all my sweaters. Twice a year I do a big cleaning that takes me a few weeks. This is how I do the big bi-annual sweater migration.

The first and most important step is to wash and block my winter sweaters that I want to store away for the summer.  I've heard that some people don't ever wash their wool sweaters, just air them out.  I cannot imagine that, mine get dirty, especially the cuffs, plus the suds remove any food spills and dirt that attracts moths.  I am careful to hand wash in a mild soap and rinse well.  I don't soak my handknits.  Next I roll them in a towel to remove excess water and block them outdoors on my mesh patio table and dry in the shade.  If the weather is nice, it will take only a day, but sometimes they have to be brought in at night to finish drying in the house.  I can fit about 3 sweaters on my table, and if I do this everyday I can have them all washed in a few weeks.

Next is to make any necessary repairs that I've ignored and try to remove the inevitable pills.  Some knits, such as the Kidsilk Haze sweaters benefit from a swift going over with a soft brush to fluff it up again. It's also at this time that I'm pretty brutal and gift/donate sweaters that I don't wear anymore.  I only keep what I wear!  Next they are folded and placed in my mother's cedar "hope" chest that is still fragrant with cedar after almost 70 years.  I don't use any moth protection in the cedar chest.

The summer sweaters are removed from their winter home, and since they were washed and stored 6 months ago, they are ready to be placed in my sweater armoire. It's filled with plastic sweater bins purchased from The Container Store. I organize them by color and/or weight with 3 or more per bin. Since the bins are somewhat clear it's not too difficult to find what I'm looking for, although sometimes the sweater search is like playing a game of Memory and I never seem to return them to the same bin.

I am petrified of a moth infestation and do use limited moth control in the sweater bins around the wool. I prefer No Moth , (limited use) so please tell what you use, if anything.

So that's the epic sweater care and storage a la Knitionary! Knitting is the fun part, and the upkeep is the not so fun part, but I don't know how to avoid it!  I'd love to know what you do!

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  1. You put me to shame!
    I know this is tempting fate to say it, but I haven't had a problem with moths yet. I wash my woollens in a eucalyptus scented wash, which I suspect deters moths as well, but I should really be more proactive - thanks for the reminder!

  2. I add chestnuts to my chests, that supposed to scare of those awful creatures. So far, I haven't had a problem with them. Also, I put my sweaters to storage only after they come from dry cleaning. They say, moth does not care for wool, it cares for grease and dirt, that's on the wool and devours wool with the grease. :))

  3. I'm so impressed by your sweater organization!! I use lavender, but I'm not sure if it's totally moth proof.

  4. Well, I'm speachless! You are soooo organized. Truly, that must be a personality characteristic I got short changed on.

    I have a horrific moth story. I knit a Jamieson Shetland wool tunic (took me 3 years) long before blogging/picture taking. I wore it maybe twice - and then pulled it out to find a huge month hole in the center. I walked outside and tossed in the trash bin.

    I then washed out all the drawers and every knit item I had. I'm still very lazy about washing things. But I do use "wool wash" and I think might deter months. I also sprinkle loose lavender in my drawers and when we spray inside for spiders/bugs I have them put in an anti-moth ingredient too.

  5. I did it! Once you know how it's easy. Love all the pictures of you - Rosarenata

  6. My storage system is similar to yours, Kristen, but not as pretty. The yarn and sweaters stored in my mother's cedar chest don't need additional protection. Here in frigid and dry Colorado, there are supposedly no wool moths. Hmph! I don't believe it, as there are lots of other moths, a few of which live in the master bedroom closet. My yarn stash that is still in plastic wrappers is stored in plastic bins with lavender (that I grow and dry). My in-use sweaters are in the guest room dresser. They will soon be washed and put away, now that is is finally getting warm here.
    Haven't had a moth problem yet.

  7. Love it! I confess to doing a better job of making sweaters than caring for them afterwards. I am a bit lazy about that!


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