#1
Old 12-31-2009, 11:52 AM
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What is best way to shrink wool sweater?

I have a a Fisherman Out of Ireland wool sweater that has sat in the closet for years because of its size. I could wear it if it were at least 4" thinner length and at least 4" thinner about the chest.

Its a nice sweater, and worth a shot.
#2
Old 12-31-2009, 12:34 PM
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Wash in hot water. Because wool washed in a washing machine can also felt (the fibers break and then merge to form a solid fabric, individual stitches can no longer be seen) I would start by handwashing in hot water. Second step if it has not shrunk enough would be machine-dry. I would only machine-wash as a last resort, if none of the above worked first, because like I said you might end up with the sweater felted.

Last edited by Hello Again; 12-31-2009 at 12:35 PM.
#3
Old 12-31-2009, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
Wash in hot water.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

It can't be done. Wear it big or give it to someone it fits.

Heat shrinkage doesn't just magically make it smaller. It contracts the fibers. This thickens and stiffens them, like touching a match to an earthworm. It will be unwearable: heavy (it will still contain all the wool of a larger sweater), thick, and stiff.
#4
Old 12-31-2009, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener View Post
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

It can't be done. Wear it big or give it to someone it fits.

Heat shrinkage doesn't just magically make it smaller. It contracts the fibers. This thickens and stiffens them, like touching a match to an earthworm. It will be unwearable: heavy (it will still contain all the wool of a larger sweater), thick, and stiff.
How about you re-read where I gave explicit advice to avoid felting the fiber. And I have intentionally felted many items, the process does not make the felted fabric stiff unless it was already very thickly woven. Such a sweater would be extremely heavy in its knitted state, there will be no change in the weight of the item.

And anyway what's it to you if the item ends up ruined? The OP already considers the sweater unwearable. What's to lose?
#5
Old 12-31-2009, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
And anyway what's it to you if the item ends up ruined? The OP already considers the sweater unwearable. What's to lose?
Never ask a knitter this question. We have an irrational connection to woolen knits and will wince and cry at any suggestion of rough handling of such. Comes from knitting several thousand stitches by hand for every sweater we do...
#6
Old 12-31-2009, 01:56 PM
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If you want to shrink something ask your spouse to wash it. That is the best way to destroy shrink everything in the wash.
#7
Old 12-31-2009, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
Never ask a knitter this question. We have an irrational connection to woolen knits and will wince and cry at any suggestion of rough handling of such. Comes from knitting several thousand stitches by hand for every sweater we do...
That's a bit of a strong statement, I know plenty of knitters, and many enjoy deconstructing and reconstructing, frogging old sweaters for the yarn, felting, overdying, and other destructive pastimes. My friend who picks up wool sweaters from Goodwill, felts them and makes them into purses, does not suffer this pain, and she knits more than *anyone* I know. Her Christmas Present was 20 lbs of machine yarn I obtained free. 20 POUNDS.

Note that the OP did not ever say this was other than a machine made sweater. But even if it was handmade what is wrong with making something which is not useful, useful? If it is destroyed in the attempt it is not less useful than it ever was.

Last edited by Hello Again; 12-31-2009 at 01:58 PM.
#8
Old 12-31-2009, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
That's a bit of a strong statement, I know plenty of knitters, and many enjoy deconstructing and reconstructing, frogging old sweaters for the yarn, felting, overdying, and other destructive pastimes. My friend who picks up wool sweaters from Goodwill, felts them and makes them into purses, does not suffer this pain, and she knits more than *anyone* I know. Her Christmas Present was 20 lbs of machine yarn I obtained free. 20 POUNDS.
None of that is destructive. It's making something new out of something else. Shrinking a sweater by heat with the intent of fitting it to a smaller person is a terrible idea and it will ruin the sweater. Unravel it and knit another; felt it and make hats or purses; cut it up and make a patchwork afghan with other sweater parts. Something creative. The obvious point to take away from all the things your friends do with old sweaters is that this proves those things will make the original sweater unwearable so you have to make it into something else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
Note that the OP did not ever say this was other than a machine made sweater. But even if it was handmade what is wrong with making something which is not useful, useful? If it is destroyed in the attempt it is not less useful than it ever was.
If it's destroyed it's destroyed. Give it to someone who can wear it. Better the OP should gain 30 pounds to fit the sweater than destroy it in an attempt to make it fit her.
#9
Old 12-31-2009, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
I know plenty of knitters
Ah, so you're not a knitter yourself. Forgiven then. But please, if you don't go around telling people to cut of their children's feet if they're too tall, then don't go around telling people to put an Irish Fisherman's sweater in the dryer to svelte it down. Better she should burn it for the heat than dryer it just to throw it away.
#10
Old 12-31-2009, 04:19 PM
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OK, you've alreay been told the unadvisability of this, so I won't tell you the story of my King sized wool blanket which is now an inch-thick throw blanket. Since you want to try it, here's the method I would use. . .

Use a spray bottle to lightly wet along the sides and bottom. Start with a one inch strip. Put in dryer, and assess the amount of shrinkage. If it's not shrunk at all re-wet the same area but use more water. Dry, assess, repeat.

Every yarn is going to shrink differently. Some can go from a foot to an inch, others will only lose 15% of their length.

Please do come back and tell us how it went!
#11
Old 12-31-2009, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by lissener View Post
Ah, so you're not a knitter yourself. Forgiven then.
I know how to knit. By preference, I crochet.

I do not expect my work to be worshipped as a holy relic though.

Last edited by Hello Again; 12-31-2009 at 04:22 PM.
#12
Old 12-31-2009, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by TruCelt View Post
OK, you've alreay been told the unadvisability of this, so I won't tell you the story of my King sized wool blanket which is now an inch-thick throw blanket. Since you want to try it, here's the method I would use. . .

Use a spray bottle to lightly wet along the sides and bottom. Start with a one inch strip. Put in dryer, and assess the amount of shrinkage. If it's not shrunk at all re-wet the same area but use more water. Dry, assess, repeat.

Every yarn is going to shrink differently. Some can go from a foot to an inch, others will only lose 15% of their length.

Please do come back and tell us how it went!
The dryer will still shrink the dry areas. It's heat and motion that has the effect.
#13
Old 12-31-2009, 04:35 PM
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Yeah, don't put it in the dryer. Unless you want a doll-sized sweater, that is.

Ask me how I know.
#14
Old 12-31-2009, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
I know how to knit. By preference, I crochet.

I do not expect my work to be worshipped as a holy relic though.
Crocheted fabric is different from knitted fabric. It doesn't have the same lengths of yarn restrained only by loosely looping through other loops. Yes it loops through other loops, but not in the same open series. Crochet is almost as similar to macrame as it is to knitting. Crocheted stitches are not actual knots, but most of them have a more static locus. They don't make the same kind of fluid fabric that knitted stitches do. So it's possible that your sense of what a handmade yarn fabric is like considers the fluidity of knitted fabric less important. Understandable, and crochet of course certainly has its strengths; I'm not suggesting a hierarchy, just pointing out a difference. But it's that fluidity that shrinking will sacrifice. In a sense, the knitted fabric becomes more like crocheted fabric: less fluid, more static, a little stiffer (though of course there are many crochet stitches that are not at all stiff). So it's likely that a shrunken sweater would be perfectly acceptable to you, Hello Again.

So maybe the OP will send you the sweater, you can unknit it, and crochet a new one out of it. But please don't shrink it in the dryer.
#15
Old 12-31-2009, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbbth View Post
If you want to shrink something ask your spouse to wash it. That is the best way to destroy shrink everything in the wash.
I second that.

I had (had being the important word) three lovely Cashmere sweaters until hubby did the household laundry.
"To help out."
We are back to each doing our own laundry.

Hubby, God-bless-him, does not grasp why fabric weight and content dictate temperature and detergent nor why one separates items into "like colors" loads.
He had one (a grasp, I mean) for a short time after "the red garment + white briefs= pink undies" incident but has since forgotten.
#16
Old 12-31-2009, 05:24 PM
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Right. Most people don't realize that the reason a garment is dryclean-only is rarely because the fabric is particularly delicate. It's usually because it's made of different types of fabric that will each react differently to water, detergent, and heat, leaving you with a deformed and twisted garment when the pieces no longer fit together correctly. I make a lot of things out of found fabric--silk scarves, sweater scraps, old prom dresses, whatever--and even when every component is laundry safe, the label I put on says DRY CLEAN ONLY because it's unlikely that such a chimeric garment will come out of the wash the same way it went in.

Last edited by lissener; 12-31-2009 at 05:28 PM.
#17
Old 12-31-2009, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
I do not expect my work to be worshipped as a holy relic though.
Somehow I feel better about myself for defending the integrity of an artist's creation than I would if were petty enough to pit someone over it. Thanks for the boost, HA; it's reassuring to know I'm not THAT lame.
#18
Old 12-31-2009, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by lissener View Post
Somehow I feel better about myself for defending the integrity of an artist's creation than I would if were petty enough to pit someone over it. Thanks for the boost, HA; it's reassuring to know I'm not THAT lame.
Bahhh.

Throw the sweater out into the snow outside overnight. If it shrinks just right its yours to love. If it ends up ruined it was never meant to be.
#19
Old 12-31-2009, 07:02 PM
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[moderating]
Easy there, you two (billfish678 and lissener). It's funny so far, but let's not turn an MPSIMS thread into a snarkfest or insultfest.

Thanks.
[/moderating]

And on the original topic: you just might shrink the sweater so that it fits well around the torso, and end up with sleeves that end at your elbow. Sleeves really shrink!
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#20
Old 12-31-2009, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
[moderating]
Easy there, you two (billfish678 and lissener). It's funny so far, but let's not turn an MPSIMS thread into a snarkfest or insultfest.

Thanks.
[/moderating]

And on the original topic: you just might shrink the sweater so that it fits well around the torso, and end up with sleeves that end at your elbow. Sleeves really shrink!
He IS the one that brought it up first and in here.

As for shrinking stuff on purpose, I've done it before and been happy with it. I'll leave it to the experts to describe the how too's and possible gotchas.

Something that fits so poorly you can't wear it aint doing you any good. And not all wool sweaters are the equivalent of a Mona Lisa.
#21
Old 12-31-2009, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener View Post
I feel better about myself for defending the integrity of an artist's creation .
You're not doing that, though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener
Unravel it and knit another; felt it and make hats or purses
You advocated unraveling the thing and reusing the wool. How is that "defending the integrity of the artist"?

I also find it a bit absurd talking about "artistic integrity here" . The things come from a factory in Ireland and sell for 20 bucks on eBay. The company is an Irish version of LL Bean. Quit the histrionics.
#22
Old 12-31-2009, 08:15 PM
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As to the OP, eHow has a simple 7 step process.

I'd also be very careful when it comes to the blocking.

Last edited by armedmonkey; 12-31-2009 at 08:18 PM.
#23
Old 12-31-2009, 08:34 PM
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I've done this with a sweater which, already just on the verge of too small for me, went through a bit of rough handling in the washing machine and became very definitely too small for me.

So I went all the way and made it into a sweater for my 4 year old daughter.

It did become basically a felt item, but being quit thin and delicate to start off with it was still eminintly wearable. What I wasn't expecting, however, was that the amount of shrinking really did wierd things to the shape. The neck and the sleeves hardly shrunk at all, mening they ended up rather too wide/long. The sleeves did, however, narrow up quite satisfactorily. The body for some unknown reason went the other way - shrank a lot vertically, but hardly at all horizontally, so it ended up rather wide and too short (it's quite impressive to turn a jumper sized for an adult woman into something that's too short for a 4-year-old!)

Fortunately, despite its defects, my kids liked it more than I ever had.
#24
Old 12-31-2009, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by A Monkey With a Gun View Post
You're not doing that, though.

You advocated unraveling the thing and reusing the wool. How is that "defending the integrity of the artist"?

I also find it a bit absurd talking about "artistic integrity here" . The things come from a factory in Ireland and sell for 20 bucks on eBay. The company is an Irish version of LL Bean. Quit the histrionics.
If that's the case then fine; I assumed it was hand made. If not I don't give a shit. As to the unravel/reknit, though I offered as the lesser of two evils, it's still respecting the craft.
#25
Old 12-31-2009, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Aspidistra View Post
I've done this with a sweater which, already just on the verge of too small for me, went through a bit of rough handling in the washing machine and became very definitely too small for me.

So I went all the way and made it into a sweater for my 4 year old daughter.

It did become basically a felt item, but being quit thin and delicate to start off with it was still eminintly wearable. What I wasn't expecting, however, was that the amount of shrinking really did wierd things to the shape. The neck and the sleeves hardly shrunk at all, mening they ended up rather too wide/long. The sleeves did, however, narrow up quite satisfactorily. The body for some unknown reason went the other way - shrank a lot vertically, but hardly at all horizontally, so it ended up rather wide and too short (it's quite impressive to turn a jumper sized for an adult woman into something that's too short for a 4-year-old!)

Fortunately, despite its defects, my kids liked it more than I ever had.
Right. A sweater is subject to gravity. Whether you knit on size 2 needles or size 10 is more likely to affect the length of the vertical loop; gravity keeps the stitches pretty much at their tightest horizontally. It still had the same number of stitches, horizontally, but those stitches became shorter in vertical length. They had more room to shrink vertically. Again, that was part of my original point: it's more likely to make it unwearable than to simply adjust the size downward. At best it's unpredictable; the most predictable outcome is stiffening and thickening.
#26
Old 12-31-2009, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by lissener View Post
If that's the case then fine; I assumed it was hand made. If not I don't give a shit.
It's in the OP, the part where it says: Fisherman Out of Ireland. I assume you're not familiar with the company, but the OP capitalized it. That should have given you a clue.

He never said it was handmade. Very few sweaters are. Next time, check the histrionics and think for a second. Even if it was handmade, sweaters aren't holy relics.
#27
Old 12-31-2009, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by A Monkey With a Gun View Post
It's in the OP, the part where it says: Fisherman Out of Ireland. I assume you're not familiar with the company, but the OP capitalized it. That should have given you a clue.

He never said it was handmade. Very few sweaters are. Next time, check the histrionics and think for a second. Even if it was handmade, sweaters aren't holy relics.
Did you have anything substantive to add to this thread, or did you just drop in to annex it to the irrelevant pit thread and junior moderate?

How is it any of your concern, the tone I employ in a thread you have no other interest in participating in? How is it your job to tell me to "check my histrionics"? A mod comes into a thread for the sole reason of admonishing a poster; when did that become your job?

Last edited by lissener; 12-31-2009 at 10:23 PM.
#28
Old 12-31-2009, 10:30 PM
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It's a hint to get you to add something substantive.

You have posted nine responses and not one of them have told the OP how to shrink a 20 dollar sweater. How about you use your vast knowledge of textiles and answer the freaking question in the OP? It doesn't have to be about you lissener; it should be about how to shrink a $20 factory made sweater. So, buddy, how should the OP do that?

I gave him a method in post 22, why can't you?

Last edited by armedmonkey; 12-31-2009 at 10:32 PM.
#29
Old 12-31-2009, 11:26 PM
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Because someone HAS to do it...

If you want to destroy my sweater
Pull this thread as I walk away....

#30
Old 12-31-2009, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Monkey With a Gun View Post
. Even if it was handmade, sweaters aren't holy relics.
Oh crap.

You don't wanna know what I did to my "wool of the covenant" sweater
#31
Old 12-31-2009, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
You don't wanna know what I did to my "wool of the covenant" sweater
Hmm. Side question: Do you think the Shroud of Turin was made of wool? Did that wool come from the lamb of God?

And if so, how would you shrink it?
#32
Old 12-31-2009, 11:50 PM
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Give it to my late mother (Og rest her).

She used to shrink some of my BEST sweaters so small they'd fit Barbie's Ken.

THAT and throw 'em in with cheap towels!



Q
#33
Old 01-01-2010, 09:57 AM
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Moderator note

This is not the thread for personal remarks about lissener, his personality, priorities, or proclivities. It you want to bash him, go do so in the current Pit thread. Keep this thread on ideas about shrinking sweaters. (lissener -- that includes you -- "you shouldn't want to" isn't a helpful response, because it's not in any way equivalent to "you can't, safely.")

Happy New Year, y'all.

twickster, MPSIMS moderator

Last edited by twickster; 01-01-2010 at 09:58 AM. Reason: unclear "it"
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