Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Soggy, Sodden Mess

My poor Brambles!
I bought the Brooks Farm Four Play with the intent of making a dressy Brambles beret. I love the pattern; it's easy and fast; I've made it before out of Four Play.
Four Play knits like a dream but can be tricky to block, because it is 50% silk. It stretches like mad if it gets soaked. When I made the first one for my student, over a year ago, I sprayed the beret with water and then stretched it over a dinner plate to let dry. But working with white or off-white yarn often means a real cleaning is in order. I followed Brooks Farm's instructions and hand washed, using Eucalan. After soaking in the sink for 20 minutes, I squeezed the water out, rolled in a fat, fluffy towel, stamped on the towel, rolled in a dry fluffy towel-- and was left with this:
Brambles beret Brambles beret
Something about a gazillion sizes too big for a human head. Frankly, I'm shocked because Four Play is not the first 50/50 wool/silk blend I've knitted; Zephyr by Jaggerspun is also 50% silk and 50% Merino wool; it most certainly knows how to behave itself when wet-blocked. Just ask my Evenstar shawl and Carefree sweater.
To deal with my soggy, sodden mess, I took a deep breath, threaded waste yarn through the ribbing and nudged the thing onto a dinner plate. I eased it on a towel and put it in the warmest room in the house. After 4 days of ignoring the mess I made, I had to do something. I reread the threads on Ravelry about Four Play, and decided to reblock, after carefully shrinking the beret in the dryer.
Sprayer in hand, I wetted the beret and put it in the dryer on low for 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, I checked- still damp, still huge. turned the dial to 15 minutes and walked away. Came back at the appointed time-- still huge but dry. Slept on it (no, not literally). Rearmed with sprayer, I rewetted the beret and put the dryer on next lowest setting. Fifteen minutes did not a thing, either to the damp or the size. I know the dryer works fine, because I dried my clothes on the lowest setting and even my cotton sweaters were dry within 20 minutes. Turned the dryer up a notch and checked after 5 minutes- nada.
Finally, I took a gulp and turned the temp up to atomic blast and left it there, thinking either it shrinks to where I can block and wear it, or I'll make another out of another yarn. After all, if I can't wash Four Play, what good will the garment be?

It worked.
Brambles beret
I now have a wear-able beret.

Brambles beret
What to do when it gets dirty? Wash and dry in the machine? Soak in the machine and spin out? One thing is clear: my love affair with Four Play may be over.


fleegle said...

This happened to me with qivuit...I made Roy an earband and blocked it. It turned into a waist-warmer. I sewed a seam and cut off the excess. Glad your hat shrunk--can't put a seam in that.

Donna Lee said...

I made a hat out of alpaca and it was so much bigger than I thought (or the pattern promised). I couldn't salvage it and am in the process of ripping it out to re-use the yarn.

I keep trying the page to find the watermelon sock yarn. It tickles me to see it but she's always sold out. I'll just keep checking every day.

Experimental Knitter said...

Wow, alpaca stretches like that? I may have to rethink making the vest for DH; the one I'd be replacing was store-bought. Perhaps that's why I could wash it in Eucalan and spin in the machine and have it come out the right size.
@DonnaLee: Join her group on Ravelry; she sometimes posts when she has new yarn up. I forgot if she keeps an e-mail list or not. I kept checking to get the watermelon yarn. E-mail her; she usually knows when she'll be dying yarn.