Saturday, 2 February 2013

P.S. Keep Your Knitteds Nice

Back in October I was writing about dress shields, and how the use of them would prolong the life of your vintage garments. Well, I found this fabulous ad in an old Vogue knitting book, which is right at the end of the October post:
Keep Your Knitteds Nice

While we're on the subject, let me say now that I firmly believe in washing your knitteds as little as possible. With a baby, this is probably not going to be possible. But for adults (as long as they're not my partner) it should be possible. I rarely wash my woollens, and some I've had for 30 years are as good as new.

When my daughters were teenagers they were at first horrified that I only washed their school jumpers once or twice a year (and then they were carefully hand washed and dried flat). Their friends' mothers routinely washed their daughters' jumpers every week, often in the washing machine, because the tag said that was OK. I said, well that's fine if you want your jumper to be ruined in a few months. Slight soiling was sponged carefully, and that kept them nice. I firmly believe, I told them, that if it doesn't smell and it doesn't look dirty, then it doesn't need washing. They appreciated this "care" later on when their friends' jumpers were pilled, out of shape and needing to be replaced, while their own jumpers still looked like new after six years of secondary school. (Now, their brother was another story. Boys' jumpers appear to need much more frequent washing - he tended to lose them before they got ruined, anyway). Even if an item becomes a little smelly, often a good airing is enough to dissipate the smell and make washing unnecessary.

The school jumpers I'm talking about were of course machine knitted, commercially purchased items. It's hard to believe nowadays that mothers used to make school uniforms for their children. Jumpers were hand knitted, dresses were sewn by Mum. Imagine trying to get a child to wear a home made uniform these days - schools wouldn't allow it anyway, at least, not in Australia. I remember having a hand knitted jumper at secondary school. I had some regets that it wasn't a regulation item from the uniform shop, but enough other kids had home mades for me to have escaped being emotionally damaged by the experience.
My only other advice is never wring your knits, always gently squeeze out the excess water, and dry flat after pulling them into shape.

And if anyone ever wants a knitting pattern for a school jumper, I have quite a few. Collector's items only these days.

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