Now I’m not talking about the improvement of your skills in crocheting the garments… that kind of growth is always a good thing! I always say when you stop learning and improving, you stop living!
What I’m really talking about is when you’ve crocheted a garment, that you really really love, and then over time, it doubles in size… which is so dang depressing after you spend all the time and money to create that wonderful wearable!
Let me tell you a little story…
Several years ago, I made this fantastic Glamour Fusion Blouson sweater designed by Glamour 4 You – and I was IN LOVE with this top. I mean seriously GOO GOO GA GA!!! Great texture, the fit was perfect, and it could be worn year round with a long sleeve tee under it. It was one of the first garments I made to actually be worn out in public. Man, I was so proud of it! I wore it a bunch of times before I finally decided to wash it.
I tossed that bad boy right in the washing machine, and then the dryer, because the yarn label said I could. What came out of the dryer was nothing short of heartache! There was no damage per se, but the sweater had grown 2-3 sizes! When I crocheted it, I wore a size L, but it came out about a 2X/3X, and it was no longer wearable. Lemme tell you – I was crushed! I double checked the yarn labels, and yep, it said I could wash and dry. But, alas, what I learned was this is another instance of “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Stupidly I tossed the sweater, which is really unfortunate! Because I am now a 2X/3X and would totally rock that oversized beauty right now, LOL!
I had the same thing happen last year with a cardigan I was knitting. Remember that post about dyeing the 8 year sweater? If you haven’t read it, go read it now! It’s a hoot! Anyway, that cardigan started out as a size L too, but by the time I went through all the dramatic steps you can read about in that post, it too fits me fine now as a 2X/3X.
And because I love y’all so much, I’m going to share a few tips I’ve gathered along the way that will help you to avoid this kind of heartache with your crochet garments.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Even though the yarn label says you can machine wash and dry, the label is referring to the fiber itself and whether or not the fiber will be damaged by the process. But the yarn manufacturers have no way to know what you will create with it or the stitches you will use. The process of washing and drying in the machine involves a lot of agitation, tumbling, and weight from the water…. all of which put tension on the stitches causing them to stretch. So if you are going to machine wash/dry your crochet garments, put it on gentle cycle and use a drying rack with the dryer on fluff/no heat. Ideally it’s best to hand wash and lay flat to dry, but if that’s not an option gently cycle and rack/no heat are the way to go.
Why no heat you ask? Well, the heat shouldn’t damage the fiber (if the yarn label says so), but it can cause the fibers to “relax” more than you’d want, which in turn causes the garment to “grow”.
Choose your stitches wisely.
The looser the stitches, the more chance for stretching and growing there’ll be. That’s not to say that everything you crochet should be a tight dense fabric – quite the opposite! I am a huge lover of lace & open weave designs… (OO LA LA!) But if you are going to make a garment with a stitch like that, proper care will be even more critical.
Storage makes a difference.
Do you hang your knitted or crochet garments in the closet? I did, because it takes up much less space… I mean who has the room for a bunch of bulky folded sweaters?!?! Well, if you don’t have room now, make room! Gravity uses the weight of the yarn to gradually pull down on the garment, which… you guessed it – can contribute to stretching. Fold those yarny treasures and store them on a shelf.
What it all boils down to is this…. if you spend the time and money (and let’s face it, blood, sweat, and tears..) to create lovely wearable works of art, go the extra mile to take care of them and help them last a long time. Treat those babies like the fragile treasures they are… trust me, you’ll thank me later!