Cashmere yarn (on reels) used in either machine- or hand-knitting is usually never treated—if not very rarely, and should be washed only at the end of the knitting process. To prevent the yarn from breaking and other risks associated with machine manufacturing, such as needle breaking, machine knitting is mainly done with non-treated yarn.
My first and most important suggestion is to always prepare a small sample (10 × 10 cm or better still, 20 × 20 cm) and wash it in the washing machine before starting the final work. Cashmere yarn, in fact, is never identical, even if the thread count is the same. So many variables are at play during production, from spinning to dyeing, that it is not easy to obtain a consistent and homogenous product.
Firstly, each spinning mill has its own production methods and its own market requirements; therefore the yarns can come out coarser or softer and may also have a different dye. Moreover, even within the production range of yarns from the same spinning mill, differences can emerge, with regards to the colours, for example; lighter colours require greater attention in the machining and in the first wash as opposed to the darker and melange colours. Darker colour yarns will always be more coarse than those in light colours, because in the dyeing process, stronger colour fixing agents are used to prevent colours running during washing and fading with time, thus affecting the softness of the fibre.
The type of processing also affects the yarn. Cashmere tends to swell when washing, so to achieve maximum softness, it is important to allow room for the swelling, by working with a slightly looser/larger stitch.
On the other hand, to achieve the maximum resistance especially with regards to pilling (the typical defect where bobbles form on the surface of cashmere sweaters), the tendency is to work with a tighter stitch. As a result, the knitting won’t be as soft, will be slightly heavier, but a lot more resistant to pilling.
Some advice for washing:
1 – Sometimes you may need to steam the sample and the finished garment both before and after the wash. By steaming we mean releasing steam from the iron over either the sample or the finished article, WITHOUT actually touching it with the iron itself.
2 – The following washing instructions are generic and basic. Before washing the sample, make sure to measure it, so you’ll be able to establish how much it has shrunk. Also check the sample for results in softness and hair, in order to decide on a tighter or looser knit, and/or a stronger/lighter wash. In fact, if knitted too tight, cashmere will not release its full softness as it tends to swell; if washed lightly, less hair and softness will be achieved, while the opposite is true if machine washing for longer. To obtain more hair from the yarn, increase the spinning cycle in the wash, but be careful not to overdo. If needed, have more samples to try out results with different washing cycles and tighter/looser knitting.
3 – All of the above also applies to hand-knitted or crocheted yarn.
The washing machine should be used with machine knitted, non-treated yarn. We suggest a very delicate cycle; addition of vinegar will prove an excellent agent against limescale.
– Machine wash at 30° C for 7 minutes with a very small quantity of mild detergent
– Rinse by machine
– Machine wash at 30° C for 7 minutes with a very small quantity of fabric softener and 1/4 of a measuring cup of white wine vinegar (not red vinegar, as it stains).
– Spin at 400 rpm for 5 minutes (or as little as possible)
– Dry flat without exposing to direct sunlight and without wringing the item (as it will stretch)
– For strong and contrasting colors (as in striped knitwear and jacquard) we recommend to dry clean first and then wash at half load with plenty of water.
This washing procedure applies to samples, finished garments and the yarn itself.
WARNING : This washing procedure should be performed only the first time; after that we suggest you wash your items by hand following this procedure.
If you want your sweater to remain soft and fluffy follow these tips:
Soak in lukewarm water with a mild detergent (use as little as possible), and add, in case of stripes or bright colors, a drop of white vinegar.
Leave soaking for a while, no more than ten – fifteen minutes.
Do not rub, and handle gently.
Rinse patiently several times and with plenty of water, lukewarm as before, until the water is perfectly clear.
Do not wring; instead press gently to get rid of water.
Wrap it in a terry cloth or a towel to absorb excess water.
Spread it flat on a horizontal surface, taking care to avoid direct sunlight.
Dry at room temperature, never near a source of heat.
Iron it with a strong jet of steam, never placing the iron on the garment.