Thank you for purchasing a handwoven piece from my studio, here are my tried-and-tested washing instructions for handwoven and wool items;
Hand Spun – Hand Woven – Hand Wash
1. Cool-warm water soak in a speciality no-rinse wool wash like SOAK, available from YAK online. Water should be no more than warm, and certainly not hot. Hot water will encourage felting and shrinkage.
2. Soak in the bath or in a non-metal vessel for 30mins-1hr. Some natural and botanical dyes can change colour when they are soaked in uncoated metal, so it is best to avoid this!
3. Lift out your item and drain water away, then leave item to drain excess water for 1hr, avoid squeezing.
4. Take a large bath towel and place your still-damp item on top, then roll up. The bath towel will absorb any excess water. This can take a couple of hours, or can be left overnight.
5. Remove your item from the bath towel, and using a clothes-horse or linen-maiden, drape the item as horizontally as possible in swags, ensuring the surface is allowed airflow.
6. This can be dried outdoors on a warm day, or placed near a radiator. Do not place the item direction onto a source of heat or radiator. It can take a day to dry a smaller piece, and two days to fully dry a heavy blanket.
7. Once dry, or mostly-dry, a cool-warm steam iron can be used to gently press the item; pressing is a definite up-and-down lifting action, and not an ironing movement, which can drag the surface. Wool responds well to a light steaming.
After my own sampling tests, I would advise strongly against the following;
1. Machine washing; even on a wool or delicate cycle, handwoven items washed in a machine will be prone to shrinkage, felting and pulls due to the nature of the machine and specifically the spin-cycle. I’ve never been pleased with the results from using a washing machine on my work, and would definitely not recommend it.
2. When soaking, avoid moving the item too much, do not add friction or rub the wool-wash into the fibres; all these encourage shrinkage and felting.
Wool items are happiest being used regularly and getting lots of air, however in the summer months you may wish to put your wool items in storage, here is the best way I have found;
To avoid clothes moths; fold woollen item and place in a sealable poly-bag (I can send you one if required). In this case biodegradable bags would not be suitable, as they degrade in time and would damage your item.
Each item should be packed into a separate bag, that way if one encounters a moth attack in the home, items are individually protected.
If there has been a cloths moth outbreak in the home, the item can remain in the sealed bag and be placed in the freezer for ten days; this breaks the egg cycle and will not damage the item. This is a trick I learned as a costumier and it is very effective.
I am unable to take any responsibility for issues resulting from washing or storage of items made once they have left my studio . Above is my best-practice guide and the methods I use myself. Any alternative washing or storage methods may not be suitable, and result in felting, shrinkage, surface damage or other unwanted effects upon your woven item.
If in doubt, please seek specialist advice from a reputable dry-cleaner.
Update; from early 2022, all my woven works are provided with a visible-mending kit to emphasis the importance of repair and longevity in sustainable crafts practices.