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Dear Kay,

Two weeks away from the blog? I missed you all! I had to remember where the crank was on the back of this thing.

As I type, Kermit has wedged himself between me and the keyboard in such a way that I can barely get to the keyboard. DONT DO IT FOODLADY DONT BLOG NO MORE

I don’t have any fabulous trip photos to share. I’ve uttered the phrase “This is not a hotel” only once, though I think I did let out a seriously crabby “It’s MY staycation, too.” But we have had a fine time having all four of us here together as the end of summer looms and David will head back to college soon. Clif starts his junior year of high school on Tuesday. This seems totally impossible. Yesterday, I drove past the park near where we lived when David was born, 20 years ago, and the trees we planted in that park then are now 40 feet high. The trunks are a foot in diameter.

In Knitting News

I think it’s a great idea to take a break from knitting, every once in a while, because it makes you want to knit so badly.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the new website and Field Guides, very fun. But I managed only to crank two half-socks to complete two pairs of socks. This has left me with a gargantuan startitis, and I know there are projects coming up that I can’t wait to make. So I’m wallowing in the tantalizing limbo of anticipation.

In Knitting Hygiene News

I have been haunted—haunted, I tell you—by Karen Templer’s Fringe Association post asking how we care for our handknits. The comments thread over there is awash in theories and philosophies of handknit care.

I care for my sweaters by not much caring for them. I have at least two dozen handknit sweaters, so in an average winter, most of them get worn only a few times. There was a terrifying maple syrup incident last winter that damn near killed me, but for the most part, they just don’t get that dirty.

Now, after reading all those comments from meticulous sweater washers, I’m in. My sweaters need a good spa treatment now because they’ve lost their shape. Maybe they’re not grubby, but they do in time become ever more stretched out, flappy, flabby, droopy, and generally not perky.


Up for spa treatment are the six sweaters I wear the most. They’re mostly cabled, so I hope they will perk up a lot. I’m really looking forward to having a batch of tidy sweaters for the fall.


If you have some sweaters in need of a little love, please drag out your bedraggled handknits and share your before and after pix on Instagram with the hashtag #MDKwashalong. I think it will be interesting to see the mighty transformative power of a good soak. I may just jump in the tub, too. Who doesn’t need the mighty transformative power of a good soak?



PS Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who responded to our question about our new MDK Field Guides by reserving a copy. It’s incredibly heartening to hear from you, and we look forward to the glorious day when we all start knitting stuff from the Field Guides.


  • Welcome back, Ann and Kay. I’ve missed your morning thoughts for the day.
    Ann, your observation of the trees at the park…

  • Those staycations….so great, so trying, so intense. I usually come out of them tireder than I went in. But there’s a joy in just hanging out at home together.

    Welcome back!

  • Now this is one Along that I can finish! i so look forward to learning some techniques for washing my treasured handknits. Just one question, with all of our surfaces covered with drying handknits, where will we eat?

  • Yay! You are back!!!

  • My sweaters don’t need a washing as much as they need a good depilling. I wash my hand knit socks once a year, but don’t give the sweaters a second thought. As I pull them out this fall, I will deeply reconsider. No promises, though!

    • WHAT???!!! You’re kidding, right? You actually wash them every time you wear them, right? Please tell me you’re kidding.

      • Maybe she has one pair of socks for every day, so she just does a massive wash of all her socks once a year?

  • I agree that time away from knitting makes you want to knit so badly. Due to the nature of my work, I regularly stay late and am too tired to pick up the needles when I get home. So I think a lot about knitting, read about it on my android. In reading about it, it has been thrilling, over the years, when at my work computer, to switch over for a few seconds to check on MDK and actually see a new post. You cannot imagine how uplifting it is when it’s getting to be 8:00 or 9:00 pm, you should have left at 5:00, and suddenly there’s a new entry from your fav blog folks. Priceless.

    Glad to read about your staycation, Ann. With David soon away at college, it seems to me that some just normal, everyday family time together is the best choice for vacation.


  • Welcome back!!! What is the off-white sweater in the middle of the back row? Love that pattern!!!

  • I’m rather the same with my sweaters. I’ve always felt the tiniest bit guilty about it. Maybe we need a 12 step program for non-washers to go with the field guides.

  • Sweaters here rarely touched liquid, unless a terrible beverage incident takes place, because they reside in the middle of Texas where winter is but a flash. A knitter friend and I joke about how many hand knits we can wear on the two or three days of real cold here. The socks see a lot of washing action. But you got me thinking about my handknit skirt and hats. Oh the truth that may emerge when those hit the suds!!

  • Hello Ann, I recently decided to check out your blog as I have two of your books. I’m glad you posted about the knitting from sheep to sweater. I watched all 12 hours in delight. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Would you by any chance know if the sweater pattern is available? They did mention it but I can’t find it.
    Enjoying your blog.

  • Thank you for reminding me that I left a clutch of handknit socks soaking “for a while” in the tub of my washer. Yesterday.

  • In Finland (and probably other Scandinavian countries) heavy handknits get hung outdoors in the coldest but driest weather and that seems to give them a freshen up and they don’t need washing as often. Harder to do in the north of England as it’s hard enough to find dry weather in the summer!

  • I think we all suffer from ‘fear of washing’ and ruining what took so long to make. I wish you would tell us the pattern names of your sweaters. I recognize the Wool People blue. But the others, I have no clue.

  • Ann,

    Welcome back! It seems appropriate that I am knitting a dishcloth with Peaches and Crème (the original) as I read this. I probably do need to give Stopover a gentle soak, as it got a lot of wear last winter.

  • Comment

    • Any chance of getting the pattern names and yarn used for any or all of these sweaters? Love them.

  • OK, I have a quart of Lanasomething wool wash that I bought some time ago (pretty sure it was in the last decade) and maybe 5% has been used. I have no excuse – we even have a New Zealand washer with a special wool washing setting. Not even the lavender scent has tempted me to wash my FOs.

  • I second what Melanie asked… yarn and patterns for the sweaters. I am especially wondering about the green yarn … love that sagey shade! Welcome back, I’ve missed my daily dose of MD. XO

  • So glad to have you back. But we all need some down time. I’m in for the sweater wash…… just one question… is it possible to list the patterns used for those beautiful sweaters?

  • Welcome back! I knew I would miss you guys but it’s been so empty in the blogosphere without you both. Can’t wait for the new Guides!

  • If only a good wash would work with other things that I’m noticing are “droopy, and generally not perky” anymore. ; )

    • Yes, I thought that too!

  • So glad you are back online! A power outage limited the coffee and wifi this morning, so it was a double treat when power and your blog returned!

  • Yippee!! You’re back. We’ve missed you.
    And thanks for adding to my To Do list, as if it’s not long enough. 😉 I don’t have sweaters to wash, but hand knit hats, socks and cowls that should have been cleaned at the end of the season. At least they will dry quickly these days.

  • What a joy to “Modern Daily” in my inbox again. Glad you are back!
    I love washing sweaters – mine are done for this year so no photos – but it is a satisfying chore.

  • I was very careful to wash all my hand knits in the late spring once it seemed like I really would not need them. As oils from our skin are likely to help add to the attraction of wool to clothes moths, and as I’ve been carefully battling them for a couple years, I am diligent about storage and washing. (*sigh* Once day I’ll fix my color affection and wear it again. And my Owls sweater worn only a handful of times.)

    I finished a deadline project and now want to start a thousand things, preferably with soft squishy yarn on largeish needles as an alternative to socks. Of course, doing that could get in the way of my spinning “homework!”

    Welcome back. Wash those babies! They’ll be so happy!

    • Genevieve, I feel your pain. My enormous, barely-worn Color Affection (in Miss Babs “Yet” wool/silk laceweight) has two very large, serious mouse-munched holes in it. I am so angry. I know I had at least a few yards of each color of yarn left, so repairs would be possible, but I have to FIND the leftovers first.

      I’m still working on eradicating the mouse population. A woman in my spinning group has been trying “humane” removal methods (seriously–trap and release for mice). I am not even considering that route. Poison bait stations are all that work with these buggers. They are able to lick peanut butter off snap traps without activating them. It’s maddening.

      On the washing front, I have two summer sweaters soaking in a basin right now, with more to go in when those are done. It’s eleven million degrees here near Washington, DC, so I probably will be able to wear the summer ones again in October, and the winter ones when it plummets to the single digits like it’s done the past two winters. I made the mistake of wearing a Silky Wool tank top today and nearly melted in 97 degrees with tons of humidity. Silly me.

      • And if you can find gaps where the mice can come in (very tiny ones, even) stuff them with steel wool. Sealing up some stuff helped us a great deal.

  • Welcome back! I missed you guys.

  • Ann! You survived! And you didn’t show up on TMZ! Yay!

    Anyway, on to handknit hygiene: Warm-weather and all-season knits (ex.: socks) get washed as needed. Sweaters and other cold-weather stuff get washed at least once and usually twice — halfway through the season, and again before they get put away for the year. This is to remove sweat, stale cologne, dog drool, etc.

    Anything that will survive the machines gets machine wash, tumble dry. (We need more such yarns, so I hope the yarn companies read this blog, and crapcrylic is NOT the answer!) Everything else gets a good soak and my apartment then smells of wet wool for a week or so.

    As for the rest: Those “trees” are dandelions that hit a growth spurt. Kermit a.) thinks you’ve turned the AC too low; b.) is checking his favorite human to make sure she’ll produce warmth this winter; c.) is thanking you for that delicious new cat food; and/or d.) thinks your body wash smells like catnip.

  • If only a wash would fix MY “flappy, flabby, droopy, and generally not perky” parts!

    I second Genevieve as I also battle moths. I am very careful about storage of anything woolen, including stash, having learned the hard way.

  • Even though I wear my sweaters and vests a lot in winter, I don’t wash them a lot. I like washing a sweater because the ribbing looks new again. However, they take forever to dry!

  • Glad you enjoyed your stay-cation! Love reading your posts, also!

  • So glad to see you back! You are my favorite way to start the day.
    I love that you are asking about how to wash hand knits just at this moment.
    Back in the days of the Stopover KAL, I joined in, intending to knit the Stopover, but I took a sharp left turn just at the start and wound up knitting that gorgeous “Jon” lopapeysa that Kay showed us some time back. I made in a mens size medium it for my darling 19 yr old. He loved it.
    He wore it backpacking in Wyoming last week, and came home on Saturday and threw it in the washing machine.
    What was he thinking?
    It’s now a perfect felted fit for my petite nine year old.

    So we had a family meeting about how to love your mother best by checking every laundry load with an eagle eye for stray hand knits and ALWAYS giving those beauties into my trained and loving hands for washing.

    I’m going to knit him another one, because I loved making that sweater, and because he was so broken when he saw his miniature sweater at the end of the spin cycle. But not until 2017.

  • I’m also interested to know what products people use/like. I’ve heard of several, have seen several at various LYS, but never know what to select. Then I received somethin in a gift bag that is supposed to “unshrink” woolens. But never hear anyone say woolite! Just curious what everyone uses for blocking and cleaning.

    • NEVER Woolite! It’s actually a very harsh product despite what they claim. Something my aunt figured out decades ago after it removed a particularly nasty oil stain.
      There are tomes about this on Ravelry if you care to search.

  • Your stack of sweaters is beautiful – such soft, muted colors and pretty textures. Inspirational. Good luck with the washing. I’m in the camp that is too afraid of ruining all that hard work, and I live in a place where the woolens don’t get worn much, so I avoid washing unless it’s totally necessary. I wash my socks inside-out in a bag on cold wash, delicate cycle and lay flat (right-side-out) to dry.

  • Welcome back!! I missed my daily dose of MDK with my morning coffee — the break made me really appreciate you and Kay. (I did love seeing all those pictures from France on Instagram, however, although I was consumed by Chateau Dumas jealousy.)

    I wash my sweaters when they seem like they need it — not too often. Your sweaters are beautiful.

  • Yep, sweaters must be washed if worn often, especially to avoid the dreaded moths. Have trained my DH to wash and block his own ! Years ago at a lecture, the incomparable Catherine Lowe gave out her secret for washing liquid – clarifying shampoo – inexpensive, easy to find, removes body oils. Just a few drops will do it. On a more personal level, I’ve started dry brushing my skin – all of my clothes stay a lot cleaner and my skin is much improved.

    Your sweater wardrobe is fantastique.

    • I second what Lori D said. I’ve been using shampoo for years. Wool is hair after all, so it makes sense.
      I’m not afraid to wash my sweaters either, I enjoy the process. I also love ‘adopting’ quality wool sweaters from the thrift store and discovering how soft they become after a wash and bloom. I speculate that a lot of sweaters are abandoned to the thrift store because their owners didn’t realize what a warm soak could do for them. My gain!

  • Oh, hand washing! It just gives me such a lift.

  • I’ve always worn camisoles or t-shirts under my handknit sweaters, in hopes to keep them clean longer. I would say I probably wash them every fifth or so wear? My problem is that the blocking mats take up so much room on the floor, and the cats have a tendency to try to lay upon them, so the only place I have is the guest room (where I can shut the door). This can be problematic. But I recently saw a two-tier mesh hanging sweater dryer over at knitpicks that is very reasonably priced, so I’m considering purchasing that in hopes that I will be more likely to wash my sweaters, especially if I can get more than one going at a time.

    • Oh. I saw that too. Do let us know how it works. I imagined my cats thinking it was their new hammock!

  • Hand-knitted socks, which are all made of superwash wool, get washed in a regular load — but don’t go in the dryer — after every wearing. I might wear a sweater several times before deciding it needs washing, but *everything* gets a bath before being put away in the spring. It kind of grosses me out to think of storing last year’s dead skin cells for 6 months and then wearing them in the fall. Bleh.

    My washing method is super easy. Before adding any handknits, I fill my top loader with cold water, add Eucalan or some other no-rinse wool wash, and agitate to swoosh it all around. Then I stop the machine, add the clothing, squish it underwater as needed, and walk away. After about an hour, I set the machine on the final spin cycle to drain (NOT agitate) and spin out most of the water. Remember, no rinsing required. The hardest part is finding enough flat spaces for all those sweaters to dry.

  • Welcome back from Staycation, and the “child packing to go back to school” household, being repeated here and I am sure in many other households as well. I did just find the other twin XL sheet …

    Forgive me — as I forgot to reply “count me in” for the “Frontiers” … as your curated projects/patterns are always something to look forward to with admiration. Unless I did reply, but then again my brain is addled in this heat.

    and to be on topic: I’ve washed many a shawlette made out of sock yarn in the delicate cycle, in a mesh bag, and just hung it up …. because in the winter (winter? don’t want to think of it) they are worn on a daily basis. And a clean sweater does not attract moths.

  • Has anyone ever attempted to wash their hand knits in a front-loader washer? I usually will hand wash/soak and then use a spin only cycle to get the water out. However, I would love to be able to use my machine.

  • The (ex) boyfriend suffered a frightening Nyquil incident before he was first washed. Out of my hands, I was worried, but it perked right up too. I can’t wait for the Field Guides, up here in Ontario. Woo Hoo! We missed you. SO glad you’re back.

  • Oh dear, I should have proofread before I pushed Reply. It was the (ex) boyfriend SWEATER who suffered the Nyquil incident (having been packed beside a bottle of same on a transatlantic flight). Said sweater travels so much more than I do. lol

    • Thank you for the clarification! I wondered if he was your ex-boyfriend because of his refusal to wash! 😉

  • LOVE this idea!

  • I’ll tell you what makes me think twice about not washing my sweaters that often: when I do get around to doing it (with Eucalan) the rinse water is really, really dirty.

  • I’ve got a couple of sweaters that need a freshen up before autumn/winter wearing. I recently bought two ‘sweater drying racks’. I found them on a gardening supply website listed as herb drying racks and they cost about £12 for the two, including postage & packaging. They’ll mean I can stretch out damp sweaters outside without having to put down foam mats on the patio.

  • Don’t actually wash sweaters in a front-loader. Soak the items in wool wash in a clean bucket used solely for this purpose. I use Eucalan. After an hour or so, tip the water and sweaters out of the bucket into the front-loader. Use the regular spin cycle to centrifuge the water out of the fibers, gently lift out the sweaters one at a time, and spread flat to dry, adjusting the configuration as needed. Practically labour free soft, clean-smelling sweaters. Cheers!

  • Comment

  • I use Eucalan wool wash for all fibers and sweaters. Socks go in the washing machine (no dryer) after every wear. Sweaters prob annually if it’s been cold enough to even wear them. I need to get on it now since the weather is hot and dry here in Nor Cal. Thanks for the reminder.

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