Knitting in the Round – Using a circular needle

sock circularWe have talked about knitting in the round using dpns.  But there is another , more modern way to knit in the round that is very common now.

Question: Knitting with four needle seems hard because there are so many needles to deal with, it overwhelms me.  Knitting with a circular needle seems almost as overwhelming, there are only two points, but it seems like it’s easy to go wrong…How do you do it?

There are two ways to knit in the round using a circular needle.  It is a good idea to be familiar with both methods because once you have learned how to knit in the round, AND mastered knitting in the round using the magic loop you can knit ANYTHING you want, using only rather long circular needles.

Knitting in the Round with Circular Needles

When you knit in the round using four needles you are only really using two needles at any one given moment.  When you use a circular needle you are doing the exact same thing – you have one needle that holds the stitches from last row, and one needle that creates and hold the new stitches.  But the crazy and wonderful thing is that those two needles are ATTACHED, so it’s just one needle.

Knitting with a circular needle has a few benefits.

  • Remember those pesky angles that sometimes created a weird and annoying enlargement of the stitches at the beginning of a new needle? GONE.  There is no “end” or “beginning” of the needle, it’s just round, and round, and round…
  • You can’t drop one of your needles and have to go scrounging around on the floor looking for them.  If you drop anything you drop the whole project, which hopefully will be easy to find!
  • You can’t loose a needle.  Well, you can loose the whole needle, of course, but you won’t lose ONE needle in the middle of a project and not be able to continue until you get to a store and buy more, they are attached – just like mittens on a child that are attached by string through the arms of a jacket!

The only real downside to circular needles is that you have to have the right size needle AND the right length cable for your project.  Circular needles come in every size needle, but they also come in different lengths of cable.  That means that if you are knitting socks you have to have a very small (in length) circular needle, like the one pictured above.  The length of the needle must be shorter than the total circumference of the item you are knitting.  If the needle cable is too long then the stitches won’t fit around the length of the needle and you won’t be able to knit.  Well, until 2002 you couldn’t anyway!

Spinfoolish Tips:

1. The best thing to get yourself if you really like to knit in the round is a set of circular needles with interchangable points and cables of multiple lengths.  That way you can pick the size of the needle and the length of the cable to fit your project.  It makes life a lot more fun!

2. Just because you have discovered circular needles doesn’t mean you don’t need your dpns anymore.  They will always come in handy, don’t just dump them for circulars – every type of needle has a use!

3. When buying circular needles be aware of your personal preferences for: material (wood, plastic, metal), points (very fine point, mid range, very blunt point), cable joins (metal, plastic, smooth bumpy). If you aren’t sure borrow a friend’s or try some out at a yarn tasting. Buying needles that you then hate because of one small thing is really annoying!

Knitting in the Round with Magic Loop

FAIR WARNING: This is one of those things that it is much easier to just do it than to explain it.  I am going to try, obviously, but  I strongly recommend that if you find this explanation more confusing than helpful get a friend or your LYS to show you how to do this.  After you have had an in-person lesson then feel free to roam YouTube.  Watching a video is great once you have some idea of what you are doing but an in-person lesson is the best and only correct way to START the learning process.  They have yet to develop a video that will correct your errors as you knit. Until then find a real human to start you off.

41i0NMGfPPLSarah Hauschka is credited with introducing us to, or “unventing” (clearly she read and appreciated Elizabeth Zimmermann!) magic loop knitting. Then in 2002 Bev Galeskas wrote a little booklet titled “The Magic Loop” published by her company Fiber Trends. This small booklet (20 pages) walks you through casting on and knitting one sock with the magic loop.  It caught on like wildfire!

The concept behind magic loop knitting is that instead of using a needle that is the appropriate length for your project, you use one that is intentionally much longer than you need, then you pull out LOOPS of the cable and bingo, it become the right length.  Knitting with the magic loop is NOT hard to do, but like knitting with four needles it often intimidates people from the way it looks.

I teach a beginner class on sock knitting at my LYS and we do a toe up, after-thought heel sock pattern (find it here) using magic loop.  I can’t tell you how many times my students tell me they can’t do it before they even pick up the needles!!

Note to students: If you have decided that there is something you want to learn, then you spend the money to take the class, then purchase your materials, and finally show up for class DO NOT ruin a good thing by immediately telling me you can’t do it or that I can’t teach it to you.  If you got up, dressed yourself, and drove over here in your car then I can teach you how to knit, or knit in the round with a magic loop.  The ONLY thing standing between you and learning what you want to learn is your attitude.  And there isn’t always something I can do about that, although, goodness knows I will try!!

The best way I can describe knitting in the round with a magic loop is like this:

When you knit something flat you knit back and forth.  If you imagine the actual path of the yarn up the knitting piece it would look like this:

straight needles

You start at the bottom you knit cross, you turn, you purl back.  Can you see that?

Now say you wanted that flat piece of fabric to be a sleeve, or a hat – something where the fabric was a tube.  In order to create a tube-like structure with your knitting you would have to sew two of the sides together.

OK, so when you knit with a magic loop you take that same FLAT piece of knitting and instead of knitting across then turning and coming back across the stitches you just knit from the opposite side you work the stitches in a tube – going around without end like a slinky.  The path of the yarn in the sleeve will look like this:

Spring 2

When you knit magic loop style you move forward in just one direction – around and around and around like a coil, rather than back and forth.  Now, imagine that coil with your circular knitting needles in it.

Sleeve 01Here is a sleeve I am knitting in the round.  Here it is before I begin a round.

The needles are sticking out one end of the tube of the sleeve and one loop is sticking out the back end (which is actually the middle of the round.)

When you knit circular you don’t have “rows” you have “rounds.” When you go all the way around from where you start to where you end (the stitch next to where you started) that is called one round.

 

Sleeve 02Here is the sleeve about three quarters of the way around.  you can see I have the two needles that I am working with but now there are TWO loops (one off the left, and one off to the right in the picture) – one marking the beginning/end of the round (You can tell that is the one to the left cause there is a marker hanging out on the loop) and the other sticking out the middle of the round.

Because you can tell where the end of my round is (because of the stitch marker) you know that I have completed about 75% of this round and am just coming in the end.

 

Spinfoolish Tips:

1.  When you knit in the round arrange your knitting so you can see the outside of the tube on the outside.  This will enable you to see mistakes in order to correct them and easily see where you are in your stitch pattern.  It’s not wrong to knit with the tube inside out, it’s just pointless and makes your life more difficult than it has to be, so it’s a habit to avoid.

2.  It is possible to knit in the round with 24 inch needles, but it’s harder than it has to be.  I think 36 inches is the shortest you should get if you intend to use them for magic loop.

3. Do not try to attempt magic loop with the plastic needles made before 2002 (or 2006 to be safe!!) because the cable will be very inflexible and trying to use them for magic loop will make you think or say many bad words.

Knitting in the Round with Two Circular Needles

So the last way to knit in the round is by using two circular needles.  You will want them to be the same size needle (of course!!) and it’s usually easier if they are about the same cable length.  Sometimes that isn’t possible, so don’t worry about it, it’s not that important, it just makes it less fussy.

This type of circular knitting is sometimes easier for people because they don’t have any loops to worry about.  I am not sure why people think they need to “worry” about the loops, but some feel that need – in which case this might be just perfect for you.

Here is the same sleeves, this is how I am actually knitting them: two at a time, on two circular needles.  If I had a #7 needle that was 36 inches long I would do them magic loop but I don’t, so I am doing them on two 24 inch needles.  One needle goes across ONE side of BOTH sleeves.  The other needle goes across the OTHER side of BOTH sleeves.

Sleeve 03

The big secret here is to knit with the two ends of the SAME needle.  I know that sounds ridiculously obvious, but when you get started if you don’t pay attention you will end up knitting all four “sides” onto one needle.  It’s no big deal, just bring in the other needle at the appropriate time and you are all fixed again.  But it’s most annoying, so try not to do that.

You don’t need to do both sleeves at the same time so you could even knit this way using a much smaller needle length, like 16 inches!

Spinfoolish Tips:

1. Work with two very different needles, one metal one wooden for example, to make it easier to avoid knitting with the wrong ends.

2. Work with needles that are close to the same length.

3.  This is a great use for those old circular needles that aren’t very flexible, they still need to be a bit flexible but not nearly as much as they do when you are working with magic loop.

What else?

What else do you like or dislike about knitting in the round? Do you prefer dpns or magic loop or somewhere in between?  Is there something you aren’t sure how to do or want to learn more about?  Let me know, I am just sitting here spinning, foolishly!

How Big is That Stitch?

This is part of a sometime series called Anatomy of a Knitted Stitch. This part is How Big Is That Stitch. 

When someone talks about the size of a stitch they are generally talking about what size the stitch is in relation to the size of the needles you use.  Are you casting on with a 10.5 US or  a 00 US?  If you are making a sweater it’s more likely to be the 10.5 cause a big sweater usually demands a big stitch.  If you are making an advent ornament then a size 00 US makes the most sense.

But what I want to talk about right now is not needle size but actual stitch size…how big is your knit in relation to your purl? This can be one of the most annoying and contradictory and annoyingly contradictory thing about knitting once you stop being a complete beginner and try doing some knitting without (gasp!!) a pattern. Don’t be scared! You can do it, but there are TWO things you will need to know/consider/learn about stitch size in order to avoid really screwing up your knitting.

Number One: Your stitches may not be even.

You know I teach people to knit.   Not long ago I was working with a new knitter (not really a student of mine, just a friend) and she was having trouble with some pattern stitches. She coudln’t get them to look the way they did in the picture.  We talked about blocking (to open the stitches) but no, that wasn’t the issue.  I asked her about her tension.  She wasn’t sure what I meant by “tension” in knitting, so we talked about how you could ensure an even tension while you knit so all your stitches are even – and no she felt like she was on top of that, her knitted stitches were all the same size as her other knitted stitches, and her purls were all about the size size as her other purls.  I was flummoxed, cause there was definitely an unevenness to her knitting – so I went to my last ditch troubleshooting trick and I asked her to knit a swatch for me, while I watched.

This opened a whole can of worms cause she said “Oh, pfft, I don’t knit swatches!  Those are so old fashioned.”  (That’s a quote, though it may make her blush to read it!

We will pause for a moment now, while I count to ten and say in a calm reasonable tone of voice that is not abusive, condescending or in any other way demeaning: “No, swatches are not old fashioned, any more than using knitting needles to knit things is old fashioned.  Perhaps you aren’t fully informed on the purpose and value of a swatch”

Let’s just breeze over the next few minutes (that’s a whole ‘nother topic right there!!) and jump ahead to the part where she, albeit a bit grudgingly, agreed to knit a small swatch for me.  She knit 15 stitches, then purled back – stockinette stitch for about 10 rows.  I knew what her problem was by the end of the second row, but I listened to her grumble, and I am glad I did – it was very educational.

This is what I learned.  She has been knitting for about two years.  She has made cowls, hats, mittens, and an infinity scarf.  She can read a pattern, and she is very comfortable with a circular needle, both for circular knitting and for magic loop.  She really is a competent knitter.  But it was the first minute of her flat knitting that told me what her problem was.

This is the problem:

Every time she has knit something she has used a circular needle.  She is a modern young lady, and a modern knitter – so she has never knit on straight needles (I am assuming because she considers that to be old fashioned as well).  Because everything she had done was circular, she has never had to do the simple thing I did when I first learned to knit: knit a row, then purl back.  She had worked in stockinette stitch, but it was circular, so every stitch of the stockinette was knitted.  She had even done a bit of reverse stockinette stitch, but again, only from one side (because it was circular) – so every row was purled.

What I realized as soon as she started to purl back was that her purls were much much looser than her knits.  In most of the simple patterns she had been using the difference between the size of her knits and purls didn’t matter much , they had been jumbled together, and any size difference just blended into the pattern when it was blocked.  But when she started making this shawl, it was flat, so she had to knit across and purl back, rather than around and around.  It was the first time that she had worked stockinette stitch by actually knitting one row, then purling the next – and boy did it ever show!! Her knits where fine, and so were her purls on their own, but her purls were about 1/3 bigger than they should be, when compared to the knits!!  So when you looked at her stockinette it was lumpy and uneven.

Moral of the story is this: If you look at your knitting and sometimes you like the way it looks and other times it seems uneven or lumpy-bumpy to you just knit your self an old fashioned swatch on old fashioned straight needles and see what you get.  If you don’t like the way it looks, you might have a problem.

Solutions to the problem:

IF you know your purls are looser than your knits there are a few things you can do to solve that problem.  You can work on your tension, see how other people hold their yarn to tension it and find a way that works for you.  This seems to be a problem for both continental and English knitters,  it’s not about what style you use, it’s about what style of tension you employ.  Awareness of the problem and intentionality while knit should solve the problem pretty quickly.  If you find that when you do a stitch pattern (like moss, or ribbing, or lace) you can’t really see the problem but if you do stockinette in the flat it looks awful (and you can’t or won’t lick the issue with practice) consider using two different sized needles.  If you know you purl bigger than you knit then arrange you needles so that when you knit you are using the size you are supposed to, and when you purl you use a size smaller  (to compensate for your loose knitting).  Obviously this only works on pieces that are all stockinette.

FYI: Learning how to lick the problem is really the best way to go.

Now that I have said that: that your knits and purls should be the same size – hang onto your hats for other thing you should know/consider/learn about stitch size.

Number Two: Your stitches will never be even.

That sounds like fightin’ words doesn’t it?  Let me go a step further: Your purl is is not the same size as your knit.  You know that a knit and a purl are two sides of the same thing, right? The purl is the back of the knit, and the knit is the back of the purl.  Well, just like the Tardis (it’s inside is bigger that it’s outside) knits are purls are not the same size.  Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say they are not the same shape.  Let’s take the two stitches one at a time.

Knit stitches are wider than purl stitches.  

It doesn’t matter if you have been knitting for ten minutes or ten years – if you cast on 30 stitches and knit in stockinette stitch for about 12 inches the fabric of your knitting is going to curl, with the knit stitches on the outside, into a 12 inch long tube of knitting (except near the needle, which keeps it stretched out straight).  It’s annoying, but it’s inherent in the fabric – when you put all the knits on one side they will take up more room SIDEWAYS and so will roll in from the sides.

That’s why when you knit dish clothes, or afghan squares, or shawls: at the edge we do a seed stitch, or a rib, or a garter, even if it’s just for a few stitches, to keep the edge straight.  By mixing knits and purls we create a fabric that is the width on both sides, so no curling.  Knit stitches will always be wider than purls, it’s the way they are built.

Purl stitches and longer than knit stitches.

It doesn’t matter if you are knitting with that 10.5 US needle or the 00 US needle – it’s not your knitting,  its’not the type of yarn.  It’s not because you didn’t slip the first stitch – purl side of a stitch takes up more room vertically than the knit side.  This is why when you start knitting in stockinette stitch (all the purls on one side) the bottom will curl out with the purls on the outside.  This used to be a bit of a no-no, but fashion got a hold of knitting a few years ago and decided it was cool to have sweater necks that curled out, or cuffs that curled up at the bottom of your sleeves.  I was brought up to use ribbing or seed stitch to stop the curl – but as I believe we have already discussed, I tend to be a bit old fashioned.

Bottom line: not matter how much you work at making your knitting EVEN the actual stitches are working against you to a certain extent.  I understand this intellectually, but emotionally I just don’t get it.  If knits and purls are like a coin, two sides of the same thing, then how can they be so differently shaped?  Well, I promise that it’s completely explainable how one side can be wider and the other side can be longer and they can still be the same stitch…but that’s when it gets really technical and I am frankly not nearly as interested in WHY it happens as I am in knowing that it does.

techknitterSo at this point you might be saying “wait, hold on! I really, really want to understand the detailed explanation of how a knit is wider and a purl is longer!  Well, first, I am sorry for you.  All the time you are going to take to learn, figure out, and inwardly digest this piece of technical knitting trivia could be better spent knitting, in my opinion.  But that being said, I recommend that you visit TECHknitter’s explanation.  This is just one of a huge number of very clear explanations for all things techy and knitty… also strongly recommend her index of past posts.

Knowing what will happen to edges of fabric that doesn’t have a relatively even number of knits and purls – and knowing how to use it or avoid it as I see fit, arms me with that knowledge I to to move forward and create lovely knitted creations…

As long as my tension doesn’t mess me up!!

Knitting Contradictions

Know any other knitting contradictions that bug, annoy, or titillate you? Tell me about them, I am ready to sympathize and make you feel heard.  We old fashioned knitters have to stick together!

Click here to learn more about the Anatomy of Knitted Stitches!

Blocking – Extra Credit

Still thinking about blocking, and if you wanna do it or avoid all that mess?

Let’s talk about the tricks and tools you will need to do it right.

Sweater Blocking

There are only two things I worry about when blocking a sweater:

1. Is it the correct size/shape?

Sweater dryingWhen a wool sweater gets wet it is heavy and it tends to be easy to stretch out, which can get ugly.  I try hard to ensure that I lay the sweater down and pull and push and pat it into the shape it was before it got wet.  Keep in mind: if the sweater was too short before it got wet, it will be too short after it gets blocked.  Blocking can’t fix basic errors in your knitting – too short, too long, not wide enough, too wide… All of those things need to be fixed in the knitting not the blocking.

Caro Sheridan Vogue Knitting 2015Here is a picture of the lovely Caro Sheridan (of the wonderful Craftsy Class called Shoot it! about taking photos of your knitting) at Vogue Knitting Live! 2015 in NYC – see her T-shirt? It says “That sh*t will block right out!”  It’s called sarcasm.  That sh*t will rarely just “block right out!” If your knitted masterpiece has a problem fix it before you block it.

2.  Is it going to dry in a reasonable amount of time?

A sweater should not take more than three days to dry, unless you live in Asia or you lay it out in a room with a hot tub.  OR if you don’t get all the water out when you dry it.  Best way to get the water out of sweater? Lay it out on a clean, dry bath towel.  Shawl 1Roll up the bath towel. Stand on the bath towel.  This works every time.  I know of people who lay their sweaters out on towels on top of their dryer, or on a sweater dryer over a heating vent. Either one works great, but either one will take too long if you don’t get the majority of the water out first.

Image B

Sweaters dry faster if they are on sweater dryer racks because there is circulation around all sides of the sweater.  If you have one great, but they aren’t really necessary.  If you lay the sweater out on the guest room bed I recommend you put a bath towel down first (Not the towel you dried it with!).  Then after 24 hours or so turn the sweater over, so the other side can get a bit dryer.  If it’s a big heavy lopi sweater it might take longer than two or three days but not much more than that!

Blocking 06Having said all that, let me also make sure that you actually SOAK the shawl (or anything else you are blocking.  Mildly damp doesn’t cut it.  You have to make sure that it’s really wet for the blocking to do it’s job.  I generally soak a shawl for about 15 minutes, and a sweater at least for 30 before I try to get the water out and block it.  I know, it’s crazy to make sure it’s wet before you make sure it’s dry, but that’s the way it works. 🙂

Mitten and Hat Blocking

Mittens and hats don’t really need any extra tricks or tools to block. Just lay them out flat and let them get on with it.

Although if you have knitted a tam then it does need a little extra loving, just to get the crease of the “lid” of hat right.  I use a plate that is as close as possible to the circumference of the hat.  Bigger is better, but not too much bigger.  The problem I have at home is that my plates are square, which makes for a strange shaped hat!  Then put the plate on a glass or a small dish so that the hat can hang off the plate and get some air circulation.

I made a pair of thrummed mittens a few years ago – the kind with raw wool threaded through the stitches to make the inside of the mitten really warm and fuzzy.  Those where  hard to dry – there is SO much wool, some felted, some not, and it was really hard to get the water out. I used the towel trick (see above) and then stuck them on long knitting needles stuck in a jar.  This gave them lots of air circulation and they dried pretty well, but it did take about three days which was much longer than I had expected.

Sock Blocking

Socks are easy.  You can hang them from a clothes line, but always hang them by the toe.  If you hang them by the top then you have the whole weight of the wet sock (which is considerably more than the weight of a dry sock!) hanging off one side of the sock which can stretch out the opening.  It’s easier to hand them by the toe.

I just hang mine from a rack and leave them for a few days.  If there are lots of socks on the rack they take about three days to dry completely, but if there are only a few they have more circulation and can dry in as few as one day!

Wire sock blockers are nice the first time you wash them, but most people I know only have ONE set of sock blockers.  I don’t wash my socks one pair at a time so hanging them is better for me.  Sock blockers do a fine job, but they aren’t vitally necessary.  Socks, mittens, and hats all take the least amount of blocking necessary because they fit tightly to our bodies.  There is no “drape” or “fall” to the fabric of these garments so blocking is less necessary.

Shawl Blocking

So this is where the rubber hits the road.  Shawls are all about drape.  They are totally about the way the fabric falls.  Shawls are where blocking really comes into it’s own. It’s probably important to state now that when I say “shawls” I am talking about lace shawls, not the bulky weight shawl that keeps you warm on a cold winter evening, but the silk or cotton shawl that drapes around your shoulders or is festooned around your neck and is a complete fashion statement.  Yeah, those ones.

There are two things you will NEED if you want to really block shawls the way they are meant to be blocked – which will enable them to really look the way you want them to look.

 1. Wires

Shawl 6The purpose of wires in blocking is to keep the straight part of your shawl straight.  You take one end of the wire and you poke it in and out of the edge of your shawl weaving in and out of the edge stitches along the straight edges of the shawl.  Most shawls are long enough that you will need two or three blocking wires per edge.  Make sure you overlap the ends of the wires, the whole point is to be able to create a straight or slightly curvy line.  The shawl at the left has blocking wires all along the long edges.

When you buy a set of blocking wires you get them in a tube, usually somewhere between a dozen and 20 of them.  You probably won’t use more than five at the most for each shawl. You can easily buy a set from your LYS or through the internet.  Mum and I share a set of 12 we bought about a decade ago.  Some of them are not entirely straight – but they still work great and should last us the rest of our lives. I think they cost about $20.

Wires on their own are useless.  You must have pins, too.

2. Pins

Image E

Image E

Any long pin will work, but I prefer to use T pins.  They are a bit stronger than regular knitting pins and easier to get a hold of when your hands are a bit wet from the wet shawl.  Pins are used to hold the wire in a straight line and to bring out the points or curves of the edge of the shawl.

Lay the shawl down and decide where you want the straight side to be, the side with the wire.  Then put the pins in at a 45° angle – angling away from the middle of the shawl (where the pull will come from) over the wire so that it stays in place.  I generally do the middle then work out both sides to the end.  Keeping it even and straight can be trickier than it looks.

Then I use the pins to pin out the points of the non-straight sides of the shawl.  Again I put the pins in at a 45° angle away from the middle of the shawl.  You will want to pull it as tight as you can get it to stretch out the lace and allow the holes to really show, but not so tight that you pull the pins on the opposite side out.  Taut not tight.  I try to start in the middle again, and work out to the edges.  I generally put in a few pins at the most strategic areas, then go back and put in more as I think they are needed.

You can use pins without wires.  It’s a bit trickier to get the straight parts to looks straight, though it’s possible.  I did all my blocking with pins for years before “Blocking wires” were invented.  Yes, I just showed my age, didn’t I?

Foam

Shawl 7Foam is the third thing I use to block my laces shawls, but it’s not strickly necessary.  I used to pin shawls out on my bed (NOT on a bed with an electric blanket, please!!!!) because they dry so quickly if I did it in the morning they were dry by the time I wanted to go to bed.

You can also pin them into a deep wall to wall carpeting – I did that for years in my house in North Carolina.  My bedroom carpet was a deep Berber and easy to pin things into.  The pins couldn’t go straight down so I put them in very shallowly and deeper than usual and it worked fine.

But foam is the best.  Some LYS sell packs of foam blocks that fit together in a sheet.  These are really easy to use and easy to store away.  Mum and I got radical and went to a hardware store and bought a huge sheet of insulation foam.  It was only half an inch high, which we decided was not deep enough, so we cut it in half and glued one on top of the other.  It fits behind the door of the guest room when we don’t have company.

The Wet/Dry Controversy

The first thing I will say about this is that no matter what order you do it in (wet then wire or wire then wet) you must really let the item get thoroughly wet.  It must be submerged in the water for a good 20-30 minute to really soak up water into every bit of the garment.  I know, it’s crazy – you get it completely wet, then try really hard to get it as dry as possible!!  But blocking will not be effective on an item that is only half-heartedly damp.  It must be soaked.

My Mum puts her wire into the dry garment, then soaks it (wires and all) and then pins it out.  I soak my garment, then put the wires in, then pin it.  We both swear our own way is best. The truth is they both work fine.  If there is a scientific answer to this I don’t know what it is, but I can’t tell the difference when we block things so I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over this, if I were you.

Soaks

Blocking 07These are products you can buy that you put in the water when you soak your wool item, then you block it – no rinsing the “soak” out.  Some of them smell lovely, but to be honest with you, I have about 20 samples of different kinds of soaks and I always forget to use them, or I forget and rinse them out at the end.  My go-to method for washing wool items has always been a thimble-full of shampoo and lots of gentle rinsing.  I do know that “woolite” is NOT good for wool garments – go figure! I have always been a bit frugal and figured that shampoo is good for my “fiber” so it should be good for a sheep’s!  I am sure there is science about this, but it keeps changing, so I stick with what I know works.

Good Luck!

I really think blocking is fun.  It’s such a joy to see your garment go from done to DONE!!  How do you feel about it?  Got a shawl you are not sure how to pin out?  Got some science you want to lay on me? Feel strongly about the wet/dry controversy? Bring it on peeps! I am ready for some discussion!!