Soak: a review by Alice Neal
Washing knitwear can be fraught with worry – so we asked Alice Neal to try out Soak, the specialist detergent for wool and natural fibres….
Washing cotton yarn
I’ve long heard tell of this mythical magic that is a laundry detergent for natural fibres, the most magical component of it being the lack of rinsing. Too many times has a beautiful hand-knitted garment gone the way of the small-folk. The familiar story – the wool cycle just wasn’t as described and something that once was a perfect fit now fits your 8-year old niece. Occasionally, her smiles will quell your tears…
Soak comes in a number of scents: Celebration, Fig, Lacey and Yuzu, or in scentless form for those who prefer; and in a full-size bottle, or a travel bottle (pictured). So you can take your precious hand-knits with you, without needing to leave them at the mercy of someone else’s laundry methods.
Washing linen yarn
I tried it out on linen, merino wool and silk, and cotton, and put both Fig and scentless through their paces.
First things first: a little goes a very long way – 1 teaspoon per gallon of cool water, to be precise. So my initial course of action was to find out how many litres are in a gallon. 4 ½ – give or take – is the answer.
My enamel basin takes about 5 litres, so leaving room for the garment, that’s perfect. 1 teaspoon of fig in 4 litres of cool (tepid in my case) water later and I was ready to start.
I began with a sweater made with MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino and Louisa Harding Amitola because it is the most delicate. The other two I wouldn’t really have any qualms about popping in the machine, but this, my absolute favourite jumper, is too delicate for that.
Fig, by the way, smells delicious, and although I did try the scentless Soak too, (which I’m sure is better for those with allergies or skin sensitivities), I will be sticking with the Fig in future.
Before going in:
I’m not going to show you the bowl after I took the jumper out. Suffice to say I was astonished and slightly horrified by how much dirt just soaking it in there for 15 minutes managed to dislodge.
Once they were all washed in the same fashion, I laid them out flat to dry, which took a while but I did give myself a bit of a fright with the stripy jumper. While it was soaking, instead of just squeezing it a bit as recommended, I pulled it up from the shoulders and became really rather concerned that the weight of the water had pulled it irretrievably out of shape.
I was very careful to squeeze the water out of it afterwards as gently as possible and just rolled it out to dry flat, pushing it back up into the shape and size it had been. Thankfully, it is as good as new. Better, in fact, since it is now clean and smells beautifully of fig.
After: once they were all washed in the same fashion, I laid them out flat to dry.
I have to say, I’m delighted with the results. I shan’t be steeling myself for despair running the washing machine gauntlet again!
Soak is available in two sizes: full size (375ml) and trial size (90ml) and a mini travel pack (6 x 8ml).
You can explore Alice’s patterns here, and her blog posts and tutorials for Loveknitting here.
Last updated: December 8th, 2016.