Blocking detergent???

Hi guys,
I just finished a 100% wool scarf and I need to block it so the edges don't curl under...they first and last rows of the scarf of stockinette stitch. Should I go out and buy Woolite or similar product, or will the Dawn Pure Essentials dish-washing liquid be okay? I've used it on other projects that were cotton, as well as silk, but never all wool. Should I just use water? Warm? Cold? Steam? I've done a lot of reading on it and now, as is always the case with research, it gets confusing. With all the experience you guys have, I know I can trust your suggestions.

As always, guys, thanks for your insight.



rmbm612's picture

I never, ever use Woolite. My first choice is EUCALAN and I buy it at my local yarn shop. Its available in eucalyptus, grapefruit, lavender, or unscented. It does come in two sizes, 16.9 US fl. oz and 4+ fl. oz. For blocking 1 tsp/ gal of tepid water. Squeeze gently and let soak for 15 minutes. No need to rinse out the soap. I support the item while putting it in a nylon mesh bag with a zipper closure and spin it in the washer's last cycle. Then shape the item and dry it away from direct sunlight and direct heat. The eucalyptus "flavor" discourages moths too. The no rinse feature saves time, water, and inadvertently felting the item too. I have included the smaller size bottle with hand knit items that I give as gifts with instructions on how to wash the item. Its also great to take on holiday when you need to hand wash articles of clothing in a hotel sink. Any yarn shop in the Arlington Heights area surely would carry this great product.

TheKnittingMill's picture

The Dawn would work, but just use a very small amount (pea size). If the wool still has lanolin in it, it will strip out some of it. When I'm out of commercial wool wash, I just use a bit of shampoo and it works great. If you're trying to prevent some of the curling, steaming might work better. If I'm steaming, I pin out the piece and use my steam iron hovering it just above the wool as to not flatten the stitches pushing the steam button periodically. Then you would let it completely dry. If you do decide to wet block, the temp of the water is not so important as long as you stick with the same temp (relatively) through the soak and rinse process. One last tip...remember not to agitate the fibers when wet to prevent any fulling. I have a detailed tutorial on my blog about wet blocking wool socks, so it's basically the same principal.

CLABBERS's picture

Thank you Millard and Bill. Excellent advice. I knew you guys wouldn't let me down! I read somewhere that the tossing about of the wool, as in a dryer, would compress the fibers and make it thicker/more that called fulling, Millard? I made some slippers last winter and they were a size too big. I put them in a washer and dryer and they came out just the right size...a bit snug, but I like that. The yarn fibers were definitely more compact. Have you ever found that to be the case when spin drying your wools?

Again, guys, thanks so much. :)

TheKnittingMill's picture

Yep. "Fulling" and "felting" are terms that are pretty much used interchangeably these days, but there is a bit of a difference:

Fulling -- A finishing process in which the woven or knitted cloth is subjected to moisture, heat and friction causing it to shrink considerably in both directions and become compact and solid. In heavily fulled fabrics both the weave and the yarn are obscured, thus giving the appearance of felt.

Felting -- An ancient technique that produces a non woven sheet of matted material which is most frequently made from wool, hair or fur created by the entanglement of a mass of fibers that takes place when heat, moisture and pressure are combined (think of Tryolean boiled wool coats from Austria)

Either felted or knitted/woven fabrics can both be fulled (essentially shrunk and made more dense). Clear as mud?

Unless I'm purposely trying to full/felt a project, I NEVER place a knitted item made of animal fiber in the dryer. I just roll the item in a towel to get excess water out and continue with my blocking process. I'm glad I could help! If you have any other questions, just shoot me a message. (",)

Crafty Andy's picture

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Remember that wool is hair, so you can use some shampoo as well, clear type. I usually use a mild detergent like a baby type soap and some vinegar.

CLABBERS's picture

I had never thought of that. There is so much to learn and to remember! I appreciate the help.

bobinthebul's picture

Why don't you use Woolite, mrmbm612? I don't either, but because I didn't think I could find it here.

I usually use a bit of shampoo with conditioner, let it sit for 10 minutes or so, then very carefully press the excess water out, and lay the item out on a big towel, put another towel on top and press. The arrange it on another towel or on the (clean) carpet and let it dry. Some 100% wool will be pretty "fragrant" when you wash it, but that will disappear as soon as it's completely dry.

Oh yeah - unless it's superwash yarn, don't even think about putting it in the wash, let alone the dryer; it will likely as not turn your scarf into a very tight board! If you want to see what fulling is, knit a square in garter stitch or whatever you want (won't make much difference), and then wash it hot with a pair or two of jeans. I actually make potholders this way.