I love natural fabrics, especially cashmere and lambswool.
They’re expensive therefore I try to look after them very well, by warm hand washing them in The Laundress New York Wool and Cashmere Shampoo.
My jumpers never shrink this way and after a while I forget they can actually shrink if not looked after properly. So I relax. And sooner or later the inevitable happen: I throw my cashmere scarf/jumper/cardigan in the usual laundry basket. Everything goes in the washing machine, sometimes in the tumble drier too, and surprise surprise: I take out wool or cashmere garments fit for my 5 years old daughter (a lot thicker as well). She’d wear them a few times, then the jumpers shrink further – now her dollies get to wear expensive designer soft woolly jumpers like the pink one below: Ladylike Style Scoop Neck Hemming Solid Color Long Sleeve Cashmere Sweater For Women
Enough now. I decided to hold on to my shrunk clothes for a little bit longer: I researched the net for a way to fix the problem of shrunk cashmere or lambswool clothes and here’s what I found:
- give them to charity (or daughters, teddy bears and dollies)
- use them as dusters (no way!)
- wash them in warm water with The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo, Cedar, 16 – Ounce Bottle, then pull them to reshape, lay them flat to dry – this works well but only to some extent. Tried it and got an original M jumper , from XS to S. Another post suggested to hang the garment on the washing line and tie some weights on the sleeves and waist line. This elongated the jumper bit further but , the end result wasn’t very flattering. Oh well I tried.
- soak the shrunk garment in warm water and hair conditioner. then pull, reshape, rinse, pull again, reshape, lay flat to dry. Got some size back into one of my Pringle cashmere cardigans. Also found out that Borax is a wool relaxant so I tried a Borax soak as well: result: got a bit more lenght into the sleeves. Good but not quite big enough and the cashmere is not as soft as it’s supposed to be. Imse Vimse Woolcure (a product that’s supposed to make baby’s woolly washable diapers softer) did make my jumper softer.
Last resort which actually works is Fullers Earth .
Fullers Earth, is a wool relaxant and it was traditionally used in wool production for removing animal oils. It is supposed to work wonders for the purpose of bringing back some of the lost size in cashmere and merino wool. I tried it and I’ve got the most length in my cashmere cardigan. Soaking the garment in a solution of lukewarm water and Fullers Earth, for 10-15 minutes, rinsing in more lukewarm water and then gently stretching the garment out frequently whilst drying got it as long and wide as on the day I bought it.
Later I discovered that Fuller’s Earth has many many other uses around the household, most of them related to beauty and skin problems. Read on …
Blue Sky Alpacas – Alpaca Silk Yarn – $15.18
Add a touch of grace and glamour to your next knitted work of art with this luxurious Alpaca-Silk blend. With a fine gauge, glossy sheen, and beautiful drape this yarn is both soft and elegant. It’s the perfect pick for a stunning shawl, light shrug, or lovely little cardigan.
Ever since I wrote this post, apart for trying to pay more attention which laundry basket I Throw my cashmere and wool into, I am pleased to say that when something soft and woolly shrunk, Fullers Earth, TLC and elbow grease did the job: Soak the garment in warm water to which you added a spoonful of Fullers Earth, when it’s washing time, add some conditioner, hand wash gently but for at least 15 minutes, rinse, rinse again pulling and stretching as you rinse, do not squeeze to remove the water, simply pull slightly until you get the desired shape, they lay flat to dry. It works! You may keep your cashmere.
Second UPDATE on other uses of Fuller’s Earth
In addition, I discovered that I can use some of the fuller’s earth in my beauty routine. It has oil-absorbing, cleansing and antiseptic properties that make it very helpful in treating various hair and skin conditions such as acne, heat rash, clogged pores, blackheads, age spots, uneven skin tone. Simply mix a tsp of Fullers Earth with Aloe Vera gel to make a paste, apply to problem areas and leave it for at least 15 minutes.