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Whenever you’re in the backyard on a spring day with a handknit just completed and in need of a good soak, there are a few things to remember in order to slam dunk the handknit-soaking process.

Weather. Sunny day makes it more pleasant. After being indoors for four months straight, it is shocking to discover that an entire new season has shown up. What is with all these buds and shoots? Those fetching small birds dangling straw as they fly by? It is so bright out here.

Container. Definitely use the base of the OXO Salad Spinner that your husband spontaneously and surprisingly ordered for you after reading a review of it online. He assured you it would make your lettuce, like, really dry, and it turns out that he’s right. I have not attempted to salad-spin a handknit. Yet. Has anyone tried this? I have to say I’m pretty curious now about how that would go.

Water. Clean water > dirty water for this. That’s just a general rule of thumb when it comes to trying to clean something. Don’t be using your graywater or rain barrel runoff. There’s a limit to how environmental you can go with this process.

Soapy Stuff. We understand that there is a fine line between Soak and Eucalan. Actually, we don’t really. I buy these sweet-smelling potions mostly because they smell so great. These no-rinse washes are crucial for giving a gentle bath for your handknit—with no rinsing agitation required. 

In the MDK Shop
Soak is the modern way to clean and refresh your handknits—and all your beloved laundry. Its gentle, eco-friendly, no-rinse formulation comes in five light scents and also scentless for when you'd just rather keep it simple. This 3-ounce bottle travels with you and is good for 18+ washes. And try out all the scents with the Travel 8-Pack.

Let It Soak in a Visible Place. I once forgot about a blanket soaking in the bathtub for three days. It turned out superfluffy, though I wouldn’t want to repeat that experiment. Put your OXO Salad Spinner base somewhere where you’ll see it before three days pass. A half hour is usually enough to get natural fibers to relax, if you’re the fidgety, git-r-done type.

Possibly Dye Something Else While You’re At It. Depending on your yarn, the post-soak water will have a color to it. I’ve never had a yarn bleed so much that it was no longer beautiful. But I’m curious to hear if anyone else has had that dreadful experience. What you see here is a good cautionary tale that you should watch out about soaking light and dark items at the same time. I can only imagine the heartache of a light yarn taking on a color it wasn’t supposed to be.

Flinging. I do not actually recommend this; wet yarns are tender and susceptible to stress. Here, however, I wasn’t about to tell Kay to stop dancing around the backyard with my Hedgehog Fibres Alegria Shadow Shawl, colorway Pod.

Blocking: Take it Indoors. There are purist reasons for not blocking knitwear outside, along the lines of avoiding direct sunlight on your precious precious thing. There’s a more practical consideration: birds pooping on your stuff. Why risk it? Why go into the line of fire, when every robin in town is ready to take aim at your handknit? Robins live for a challenge like this.

Enjoy the Ride. Once out of its bath, your handknit needs to be blocked. That’s a tale for another day—when Kay is finished with her interpretive dance.



  • I hand-wash garments in my salad spinner all the time! Including hand knits. Soak in the base, pour out the water, squeeze gently, then put in the basket part and spin to your heart’s content. And then there’s no soaking wet towels to wash afterwards. It’s actually the only reason I have a salad spinner!

    • I love it! I’m going to get me salad spinner washing beach towels and dancing on them to squeeze the water out of my cashmere sweater isn’t my idea of great fun! Salad spinner for the win!

  • “Robins live for a challenge like this.” Also crows, turkey buzzards, herons, and Canada geese. Geese are the worst.

  • I block mine outside in the summer. It takes a whole 45 minutes, maybe, for a shawl to dry outside in the sun, as opposed to hours, maybe even overnight, while inside. I take my current WIP, a cool drink, and some music, and sit in the lawn chair getting my vitamin D while I wait for it to dry. I wouldn’t want to leave it out there for days, but they get exposed to more direct sunlight when you wear them outside.

  • When I lived in Arizona I used to block my knits on the hood of the car (on a towel) under the carport. They were dry in a flash. Also awesome for drying a gauge swatch. A little trick I learned from my friend, designer Yumiko Alexander. By the way you can find Yumiko on Knit Stars this year.

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