Premium lambswool is one of life’s luxuries and caring for it properly makes a significant difference to the appearance and lifespan of knitwear.
At A Hume product care is very important. We sell some of the world’s finest lambswool, from brands such as William Lockie and Johnstons of Elgin, and people rightly expect their goods to last. So we put a lot of thought into advising our customers how to care for their garments.
Lambswool comes in many guises, in it’s simplest form it is the soft, first fleece sheered when a lamb is roughly seven months old. It is beautifully soft, warm and naturally breathable.
Merino Lambswool is the first fleece from Merino lambs, an Australian breed prized for having the finest and softest wool of any sheep. It is the warmest of all wools, out performing man-made fabrics in terms of it’s superior breathability, temperature regulation and moisture control. It is also finer and for sensitive souls entirely ‘itch-free.’
Geelong Lambswool is the most sought after lambswool in the world. It comes from meticulously bred Merino sheep that on their first sheering yield a small percentage of downy white, soft springy fleece with fibres of equal length. Only a tiny percentage of all Merino lambswool can be classified as Geelong, making it one of the most exclusive luxury products available.
Washing and Drying
Washing and drying lambswool of all types properly is perhaps the most important way to look after your investment and ensure your knitwear stays looking good for years and years.
There are essentially 3 ways to clean lambswool. Here we talk you through the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Hand washing is the safest way to wash lambswool if you are in any doubt about whether it is treated machine washable lambswool. At A Hume we recommend hand washing for all our William Lockie lambswool, merino and geelong.
Turn your garment inside out and submerge in a solution of warm water and gentle wool wash product – not regular detergent. It’s important the water is not hot. Gently squeeze the suds through it. Do not rub, wring or stretch the garment.
Spot treat any problem areas with a squirt of neat detergent and massage gently with fingertips.
Rinse in warm water and repeat as necessary until the water runs clear. It’s important to keep the water temperature even throughout the hand washing cycle. Moving the garment from warm water to cold water will cause the fibres to constrict.
Gently press the water out and place the garment lengthwise on a clean, dry towel. Roll up the towel and press to squeeze out excess water – do not wring or twist.
Unroll the towel and smooth the garment into its original shape. Button up cardigans, pull pockets straight and ensure that sleeves and hems are smoothed flat to avoid unsightly wrinkles. Lay it flat on a clean dry towel and allow it to air-dry, or use a flat drying rack if you have one.
Lambswool has many more ‘scales’ than cashmere (which can be safely machine washed), fibres that can lock together during the abrasive tumbling of machine washing. So, over time machine washed lambswool, even on a wool cycle will lose its soft appeal.
However some lambswools are specially treated so they can be safely machine washed. It is always best to check the manufacturer’s care instructions and if in any doubt then hand washing is safest.
If the lambswool is safe to machine follow the method below:
Turn your garment inside out and use a wash bag to protect it from abrasion. Place in the machine and select the most delicate setting for wash and spin at -30ºC.
One of the advantages of a delicate machine washing is that the temperature remains the same throughout.
Lay the garment flat on a clean dry towel and smooth it into its original shape. Button up cardigans, pull pockets straight and ensure that sleeves and hems are smoothed flat to avoid unsightly wrinkles. Allow it air-dry flat, or use a flat drying rack if you have one.
Lambswools of all types can be dry cleaned and the advantages are firstly, the ease and secondly, it can deter moths as they don’t like the chemical smell. Which is also one of disadvantages as the chemicals used do undermine the super soft feel of the cashmere.
Pilling is a natural process that happens to all natural yarns after a certain period of wear.
Pilling is the bobbling effect that occurs when fibres become knotted together. It’s caused by friction during wear or by the build-up of static electricity underneath other garments.
These bobbles – known as ‘pills’ – can either be picked off or shaved off using a wool razor or lambswool comb. These are easily purchased for just a couple of pounds.
Fold garments rather than hanging them which can create shoulder dimples and distort the shape of the garment. If you’re super diligent or storing for any length of time fold the garment around tissue and seal in a plastic storage box.
Clean your garment before storage, as fresh stains that may not yet be visible will oxidise and become fixed during storage. Using mothballs, lavender or cedar chips help protect against moths.
See also How to Care for Cashmere.
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