Taking care of an Aran sweater: make it last for years!

A good rule of thumb for washing your Irish Aran cable sweater is to go with the old-fashioned hand wash (the alternative is a visit to a well-reputed dry-cleaners). Though the thought may seem daunting there is nothing to it, if you follow these easy guidelines:

1.Pre-soak the sweater in a basin of tepid water (at 30C/86F) with a little mild purpose detergent, such as Woolite, or, baby shampoo for a time ranging between a half an hour up to overnight.
2.Gently rinse your sweater, bearing in mind that wool is quite heavy when wet thus, care needs to be taken not to pull it out of shape by dragging or wringing. Some spots may need to be rinsed a little more thoroughly (cuffs, neckline and the incidental stain), and can be tackled with a stain removing soap.
3.After rinsing through a couple of times to wash off any residual suds, your Aran can be pressed out and towel-rolled (the blocking technique). This means that instead of wringing and pulling the saturated garment, you fold or roll it up into a shape that can be squeezed first, and, pressed while rolled up inside a towel second - to get rid of as much water as possible.
4.The wet garment will still be too heavy to hang up at this point; instead, it will need to be laid out flat on a clothes rack and reshaped to its original dimensions. Wet wool moves readily, so dont be precious and give it a tug where some sleeve, or body length seems to have gone skimpy.
5.The trick to a drying a wool sweater quickly is to position the clothes rack in spot where there is good circulation of air, and a source of ambient (never direct) heat.
6.Goldilocks would do some final reshaping when the sweater is still slightly damp just right for stretching the wool panels back into their original proportions, without overdoing it.
7.Remember, that stains can be spot-cleaned without doing the entire garment. Simply wet the area that needs attention, and gently rub some mild soap directly onto the stain then rinse out under tepid tap.

All wool garments let go of odours as easily as they absorb them. Just hanging your Aran sweater up in a room that has good circulation of fresh air coming through it, can completely refresh it in a matter of hours.

Finally, the battle with balls of fuzz on areas where your sweater is most heavily rubbed on - by handbags and other layers of clothing - need not be a nightmare. Every knit piece can be restored in your lap while you sit watching Netflix, if you have the right equipment to tackle pilling. To treat a chunkier knit piece: a battery-operated lint shaver comes in handy. The small rotating blades will cut off only the balls of fluff without damaging the yarn so that the stitches remain intact. It is always better to do regular de-fuzzing of your sweater than to let pilling spread and matt.

Ive made a small ritual out of taking 5 minutes to go through the sleeves and around the hips of my sweaters after two or three days of wear, or, before replacing in the wardrobe - with the reward of having each in as brilliant a nick as ten years ago, in some cases!


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