Friday 26 May 2017

Do as I say, not as I do: garment blocking

This morning I cast off a project that I have been working on intermittently for the past couple of months - a Breton-inspired children's jumper. I was really pleased with how it had turned out: fresh and cute, and my daughter loves it, so it should get some wear once the weather has cooled down.

As the sun was shining, I soaked the jumper over breakfast, squeezed the excess water out into a towel and laid the jumper out on blocking mats in the garden to dry. I then went out for the day as planned.

When I got home after lunch I went to the garden to pick up the jumper, and was pleased that it was nice and dry. But on closer inspection it wasn't quite the same as when I had left it. The front of the jumper had yellowed slightly. My immediate thoughts were sun damage (which seemed unlikely, while the sun had been hot the jumper had only been out for a few hours), or some sort of dust. I threw the jumper in the washing machine on a wool cycle, hoped for the best, and posted a photo to Instagram in case any one had any useful advice.

A couple of people suggested pollen, which seemed reasonable as the pollen count has been really high today. I set about googling ways to get pollen out of clothes, and while there are many, many helpful suggestions, most involve using biological stain removers, which won't work on wool.

When the jumper had finished washing I fished it out of the machine, hoping that it would have returned to its original state. No such luck. I soaked it a couple of times in cold water, to no avail, then squeezed the water out and hung it out (inside, on a clothes rail) to dry, hoping that it would look better when dry.

When my husband got home from work he took a look at the jumper too, and quickly concluded that it was indeed sun damaged. And irretrievable.

I have dried knitwear in the sun many times, and never had any problems, but having done some more googling, many yarn companies say not to dry yarn in direct sunlight, but none of them say why. It would appear this is the reason: wool is fragile and scorches easily, so my advice is never to dry knitwear in direct sunlight. And while I'm at it, wear sunscreen; if the sun can do this to yarn, imagine what it can do to your skin.

Happy knitting!


I had planned to publish the pattern for this jumper in about a month's time, and should still be able to do that. I shall be knitting a new sample alongside my test knitters. If you fancy testing for me, let me know via the general testing thread in my Ravelry group* and I'll contact you when the test is opened (hopefully next week).

*Ravelry link - you must be logged into Ravelry for this to work.


  1. Cute sweater, too bad it had sun damage when you were blocking it :( hopefully she can still get some wear out of it! :)

    1. Thanks Lisa. The jumper will go in the nursery, messy play and garden pile. Valuable, but not quite what I planned!