Knitvent Day 14 – Blocking!

So for every completed item I make, it has to take a bath, and dry before I can gift it.  Which makes my last minute knitting that much more stressful!!!

Blocking is the art of shaping the knitted item.  I generally soak my items in a basin with Eucalan, partly to fluff up the fibres then block the item into shape as it dries, but also to make sure any of the dirt/grime that I pickup on my yarn in my knitting travels is washed away.  For instance, I’ve been knitting a blanket for my son at hockey games, baseball games for a number of years…I most certainly am not going to have him sleep with that blanket until it is washed!

There are other methods of blocking, but for what I’m making this Knitmas, everything is getting a bath 🙂

August Heat, time to bring out the sweaters?

If you took care of your sweaters last spring when you put them away, they were cleaned & de’fuzzed’ and put away in breathable bags/containers.  Then when the cool weather comes around, you need only pull them out and put them on. (see my post on breathing new life into an old sweater)

BUT, most of us wash & put things away without the extra ‘care’ for the woolies…and the moths love us for that…pills attract & hide dirt, and dirt attracts those little moths…and we end up opening up our sweater drawer (closet, wardrobe) and find our lovely woolies have become a moth buffet!

Now, rather than have a sweater emergency in late September, now is the perfect time to pull out those woolies and check them out.  Wash with a wool soap (my favourite has always been Eucalan Lavender no-rinse wash, but Soak or Kookaburra are nice too); shave off those fuzzies (the technical term is pills) and have your lovely woolies ready for the cool breezes soon to come….

(As I write this, I have the air conditioner on, tank top and shorts…I just finished knitting a wool hat, so yes, I know it sounds crazy, but believe me, do it now rather than later)



Preparing Sweater for Its Second Life…

Depilling helps renew the look of the sweater, and prevents future ‘snags’. Plus it gives the sweater new life…

My nephew has a favourite sweater he’s had for years.  My niece (his younger sister) has her eye on it for as soon as he outgrows it!  It is a beautiful Canada wool sweater with a fleece lining.

Unfortunately, the elbow on one of the arms snagged and caused a hole.  Knowing that its his favourite, and little sister wants it, my very smart sister-in-law considered different ways to fix this before the hole got bigger!

1) Sewing the hole shut.  My comment – it won’t be invisible and I’d worry about the thread cutting the yarn faster over time.  Pilling of sweaters occurs from the fibers rubbing against each other, add in a nylon thread and it’ll cut.

2) Elbow Patch.  This would be a cool feature, but probably not what the niece wants for ‘style’

3) Patterned Darning.  This would be an equally cool feature, but probably not what the nephew wants for style.

4) Invisible Mending – and that is what I did.

A photo posted by Katherine Caughran (@stringandbeans) on

Now, with this being fleece lined, using existing yarn from the sweater (side seams) wasn’t an easy task for such a small fix; however I did have a matching yarn in a slightly heavier weight.  Steps I took to fix it were:

  • I thinned the new yarn a bit so it wouldn’t create a thicker area in that spot;
  • shaved the pilling around the hole so I could see the stitches clearly,
  • sewed a ‘grid’ with white cotton sock yarn to guide me and
  • swiss darned the hole which was 3 rows by 2 stiches



Depilling helps renew the look of the sweater, and prevents future ‘snags’.  Plus it gives the sweater new life…My photos don’t do it justice!

A photo posted by Katherine Caughran (@stringandbeans) on

Nephew will be happy, but I’m sure my niece is going to drool over this renewal…”Hurry up and grow big brother!!!”

Sweater: 25 years & looking brand new!

As the weather warms up, it’s actually the BEST time to care for our favourite sweaters so they are clean & moth-free for the summer storage.  My favourite sweater is over 25 years old (I can’t quite recall when I got it, but I know it was a gift from my parents).  I wear this sweater to nearly every hockey game and hockey practice, so the sweater is well-worn!  It just doesn’t need to look that way:

Any sweater with pills will snag more easily and collect dirt more easily – dirt also attracts moths…so any sweater going into ‘storage’ needs to be clean to avoid surprise moth holes in the fall.  In this case, first step is de-pill the sweater!  I did one side using a dull razor from my husband, it was quick, but with the amount of pilling, became far too dull before I could complete the sweater.

I purchased a small battery operated sweater shaver, which took me a total of 3 hours to completely clean off this sweater.  Had the pilling not been so bad, it wouldn’t have taken as long, and its definitely better for preventative maintenance, but for something this drastic, the shaver kept snagging – yarn would spin in the middle and catch on the sweater:

You can see it sticking out on the shaver, as the shaver spun it would catch on the sweater and build up inside the shaver

I hope to try out another technique in the coming weeks as I order in some other de-pillers 🙂

But, sweater looks brand-new, and after a wash & dry, I’ll store this one in my closet with some lavender – because I still love this sweater for nights when camping plus I’ll be visiting arenas again in August.