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Aran Knit Production Diary February / Laundry

STORY | 2020/03/17

This year is a leap year and February will be one day longer than usual. At the end of February, I visited Yuki's house to learn how to take care of knitwear.

“I think there are many people who are worried about how to wash their knitwear.” Yuki-san, who greeted me, said so while pouring tea into a glass. "But I didn't have the time to tell you at all, so I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how to wash knitwear."

What I took out of my closet was a “sweater in memory” that I made in 2014-15. This is the first piece I made based on the image I received in the Aran Islands, which I touched on in my previous diary.

"First, collect lukewarm water." Fill the sink with hot water while checking the temperature with your hands. If the washbasin is narrow, it doesn't matter if it's a bathtub or a tub. The problem is temperature.

“If there is a change in temperature, the wool will be stressed, so try not to put too much stress on it. Hot or cold water is not recommended.

When I picked up the detergent after I finished adding hot water, Yuki exclaimed, "Here it is!" "When you add detergent, don't put it on the knit! If you put it directly on the knit, it will cause the color to come off or stain only that part, so before you put on the knit, mix the detergent with lukewarm water. please"

To wash knitwear, use a neutral detergent such as Emal or Akron. After dissolving the detergent, take out the laundry net for large items and put the inside-out knitwear in the laundry net. When the wool rubs, the fluff sticks together and becomes felt. Even when washing by hand, it is recommended to use a laundry net to prevent friction as much as possible.

Fold it in half and put it in the laundry net. Soak it in lukewarm water and wash it gently with your hands. When I say "push wash", I don't press hard as if pressing down, but gently press with my palm so that air bubbles come to the surface. Looking at the situation, it looks like they are washing animals.

"That's true. Please treat me kindly, like you would wash an animal," Yuki-san said. “Wool is originally made from animal hair, so I would like the water to be at a constant temperature. Wool repels water, so at first you should gently press it down to sink it.”

Looking at the workmanship, it feels more like slowly submerging in lukewarm water rather than "washing". Gently press the knit and air bubbles will come out. It is said that just by moving air bubbles in this way, a water flow is born, and the detergent can wash the fibers.

“Like the 'sweater in my memory,' the dye will inevitably flow out of piece-dyed products, so I think it's better not to leave them on for too long.”

If you press the whole for a while, the hot water will be dyed pink. “Using detergent will inevitably produce excess dye. If you wash other clothes together, the color will transfer, so be sure to wash them separately,” says Yuki.

“In particular, the recent Aran knit series is dyed twice, so the amount of dye is doubled. So, if you wash it too much, the color will fade, so lightly press it for about 1 to 2 minutes and wash it, then drain the water.”

About a minute and a half after starting to wash, Yuki stopped and unplugged the sink.

Washing knitwear is a race against time. If you're used to using a washing machine, you'll start to wonder, "Can I wash it with this?"

After washing, it's time to rinse. In order to rinse well, Yuki told me that it is recommended to dehydrate briefly first. Put it in the washing machine, put it in dehydration mode and press the start button. The washing tub begins to rotate strongly and press the stop button in less than 10 seconds. Rather than dehydration, lightly cut off the water.

In the meantime, fill the sink with lukewarm water again, and gently soak the knitwear in the lukewarm water so as not to put a strain on the knitwear.

Compared to a while ago, the detergent foam is less noticeable, and the dye doesn't flow as much. If you press and wash for a minute, it will be dehydrated again. Repeat this several times. What you need to be careful about here is what to use as a guide to complete the rinse.

“Rinse until the detergent is no longer sudsing. This is a light dye, so the color has disappeared after rinsing. More importantly, make sure there are no bubbles from the detergent. If there is any residue left after rinsing, it will cause discoloration, so please rinse thoroughly.”

Firmly, but delicately. After rinsing, unplug the sink. Gently, gently. While muttering so, Yuki-san presses the knit lightly with the palm of her hand to drain the water.

Knitwear is a must-have item to survive the cold winter. However, sweaters and cardigans do not come into direct contact with the skin, so we tend to forget to wash them.

“I think there are some people who don’t wash their clothes at all, but if you take care of them frequently, they will last longer. Autumn/winter clothes are darker in color and dirt is less noticeable, but pollen and dust can accumulate. Leaving sebum on the collar and sleeves will cause the fabric to deteriorate, so we recommend regular maintenance.”

In particular, the "sweater in memory" is foil-stamped, and if it comes in contact with sebum, the foil will oxidize. It is said to have some effect. And Yuki says that hand washing is recommended rather than sending it to the dry cleaners.

"If it's a regular knit product, it's fine, but I recommend hand-washing it yourself. That's because there are differences in the washing method depending on the dry cleaner, and even if it says 'hand-wash', you can hand-wash it in the washing machine. There are some dry cleaners that use the dry course.If you really want to send your clothes to the dry cleaner, please consult with them on the dry course.”

Unlike ordinary knitwear, the “sweater in memory” is stamped with foil. Leaf is something that changes over time no matter what you do. So that you can enjoy the change of foil - that's why we recommend hand washing.

Left: Before repair / Right: After repair. 2014-15 series. It was repaired after 4 years from the customer.

“If the foil falls off when someone washes it, I think you will inevitably feel sad, saying, ‘It’s broken! If the foil gets worn out, you can fix it, and you can add more foil, so don't worry about washing it. I always think that it would be nice if you could receive it positively with your own hands.

All that's left is dehydration. If the knit is a little twisted in the laundry net, gently shape it. Then put it in the washing machine and spin it in dehydration mode.

“My washing machine is a drum type, so it starts spinning at a strong speed and stops after about 30 seconds. With a vertical washing machine, the centrifugal force is strong, so it might be better to make it a little shorter.”

Although there are differences between the drum type and the vertical type, Yuki says that each washing machine has a different strength of dehydration, so please watch carefully.

If you dry it while it is still heavy, it will take a long time to dry and the smell of half-dried will remain. However, if you dry it in the same way as normal washing, it will put too much load on the knit. It's best to take the knit out of the washing machine when it's slightly damp and still feels a little damp.

“When drying knitwear, always dry flat,” says Yuki.

“When you wash the ‘sweater in memory’, turn it inside out. It's most susceptible to damage when it's wet, so turn it upside down little by little."

Make sure that the knit is placed as evenly as possible on the drying stand. If you let the sleeves hang loosely to dry, the weight of the water will cause them to stretch, so the sleeves are shaped so that they can all be placed on the sleeves as they dry.

“We get a lot of sunshine in our house, but we recommend drying it in the shade,” says Yuki.

When storing knitwear, it is better to fold it and store it, as tension will be applied to the collar if it is left hanging on the hanger. When folding, it is best to fold the sleeves alternately so that the pressure is evenly applied even if other clothes are layered on top.

“I think it would be great if you could wash your knitwear twice a year, once before you put it in the closet and before you wear it again in the winter. If you can't wash it, just brush it or hang it in a well-ventilated place to dry for a day, so you can wear it for a long time. I think you will get it."

Spring is coming soon. As the weather warms up, the knit season will come to an end. Until now, I've always left it to the dry cleaners, but this year I'm thinking of picking a sunny spring day and hand washing my knitwear.

The day of this interview was a sunny spring-like day. The cat in our house also watched the laundry together. Please take care of your knitwear gently and gently as if you were washing a cat.

words by Rinshi Hashimoto

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