Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some FAQ's about shrinking and stretching

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And now to the article...

I hope everyone had a marvelous Christmas! I got a couple new cashmere things to add to my collection (given to me, of course, because buying more for myself would be ABSURD).

I have received a bunch of e-mails from people curious if you can shrink or stretch cashmere safely. The answer is: yes! But only to a point... You can probably go about a size up or a size down if the sweater is in good shape to start with. If it's already been felted by going in the dryer by accident, then I'm sorry to say, you're stuck. Best to cut your losses and make a pillow.

1) Hand wash your cashmere sweater as you normally would, only change the temperature of the wash water to hot (as hot as you can stand) and rinse with cold water.
2) Leave the sweater to dry, without stretching it back to it's normal size and...

Shrinking is easier and less risky than stretching...

1) Hand wash your cashmere sweater as you normally would, with cold wash water and cold rinse water.
2) Lay out your sweater on a flat surface and (this is where it gets tricky, so be gentle)
3) With the sweater still laying flat, put both of your arms inside the sweater with your hands in fists, with your fists where your shoulders would go and your arms following the line of the seams, with your elbows at the hem of the sweater.
4) Slowly move your arms away from each other, GENTLY, and stretch the sweater in small little bits at a time. In other words, pulse a bit so the fibers can relax and then be stretched again.
***DISCLAIMER: If you are not gentle enough, or your sweater is of poor quality, you run the risk of stretching a hole in your sweater so PLEASE BE GENTLE and don't expect miracles ;o)***
5) Gently stretch out the arm sleeves, cuffs, and hem in a similar manner.
6) Try to stretch large sections at a time. If you just grab two opposite sides of the sweater with just a couple fingers, you'll stretch smaller sections at a time, leaving the sweater rather wonky looking...
7) Once it's all stretched out, leave it to dry.
P.S. You can also stuff your sweater with a carefully folded towel and leave it to dry that way- I've done this with pesky sweaters that are ribbed and INSIST on going back to half their original size. But, be careful for wrinkles in the towel! For very minimal stretching, you can also use a steamer and slowly pull on the sweater in sections directly after steaming (while the sweater is still warm).

So, remember: large sections and gentle pulsing! Remember: Gentle!!!!!

Best of luck to everyone!!!


Dawn O. said...

SO glad I found you! I am doing spring cleaning and was about to dump a load of sweaters and hats that were washed in hot and put in the dryer accidentally!

Pamela said...

I have a couple of sweaters (J Crew and Michael Kors) that INSIST on shrinking down a size every time I was them. I'll block them out to the correct size before drying on towels on a table and they still reshrink. Can I get a plastic board that's cut to my sweater size/measurements and use that as a blocking/drying board or will that be too harsh on my cashmere? Have some lovely vintage Scottish cashmere that doesn't shrink, so I know it's not me doing something horribly wrong. Help!

Dale Elizabeth said...

I put my lone cashmere sweater in my husband's closet in what I thought was the "dry cleaning" bin - but it was the "cold water" wash bin! The technique worked pretty well - the sleeve are a little short, but it was a 3/4 sleeve length anyway. Thanks very much!

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

@pamela - I personally think a sweater board is a GENIUS idea! If you could find something that doesn't have any rough edges that would catch on the sweater or something, I don't see why that wouldn't work. I love it!

@Dale Elizabeth - You're very welcome!

Katie, Seattle said...

Custom cut sweater board!!! Amazing!

My idea: Get a handy friend to cut out your shape from some Masonite with a jigsaw, OR you could find a really good crafty place and get some thick, light corrugated plastic sheets. If Masonite is used, you could hinge the middle so it would fold up. As for protecting your cashmere, how about just using another, cheap sweater between the board and the cashmere? Love this idea!

I just found this blog and love cashmere. In heaven reading all this great info! Thanks for doing it, it's sure appreciated. -Katie

David said...

I found a really great deal on a Brooks Brothers cashmere sweater, but the only colour I wanted was too big. How much could you expect to shrink it in this way?

Cashmere Connoisseur said...

@ David - you can expect about one size shrinkage. As you wear it, the sweater will likely start to stretch out again, but if you wash it consistently, it should be fine. Each sweater is different, but in my experience, you should be fine to purchase one size up!