Colour Block Catastrophe

When you’re working more than one colour in a project, you know how important it is that those colours not run into each other with washing. But how often do we actually take the time to check before we start the project? It’s right up there with swatching on the Knitter’s List of Priorities! Well, if you knit your swatch in all of your colours, then you can knock two items off your “before I begin in earnest” list at one time!

Why am I fixated on this today? Well, here’s the sad tale:

At Christmas, I knitted matching Santa hats for myself and my partner. Gorgeous alpaca merino in a traditional Santa red paired with a 100% superwash merino fleecy yarn for the cuff and pompom. The hats knit up beautifully and we loved wearing them.

However, once the warm weather came around, I knew it was time to give them a gentle washing before storing them for the summer months. I actually threw mine in with my socks and some other woolens that I normally wash in the front loading washer on the wool cycle – with Eucalan, of course. What a shockingly sad state of affairs it was when I pulled out my hat only to discover the lovely white “fur” had turned pink! Nothing else in the load was affected, thank goodness!

Pink Santa Hat

I was surprised because I had tested the yarn for colourfastness before I started the project. At least I thought I had. What I did was take a piece of each yarn, wet it, and rub them together before letting them dry. They looked fine to me.

Lest I wreck the other hat, too, I soaked it in vinegar and water for 30 minutes and then gently soaked it in Eucalan and water for 20 minutes before squeezing out the water, rolling in a towel and laying it out to dry. It still bled a little into the edge of the “fur” and the base of the pompom.

Vinegar treated Santa Hat

What would I do differently next time? What I should have done this time: knit a swatch with the two yarns; wash them the way I intended to wash the garment and in the soap I was planning to use. Had I done this, I would have seen that they ran and could have tried the vinegar trick with another swatch. If that failed, I could have created my project with an easy to remove pompom and cuff so that they could be washed separately. Or, I could have chosen a different yarn combo!

I will re-purpose the red yarn from my hat (and maybe save his with a little hydrogen peroxide treatment) and chock it up to experience. I hope sharing my experience will save you a little heartbreak, too.

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