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aklouie's avatar

Anyway to un-shrink a wool sweater?

Asked by aklouie (13points) December 15th, 2009

I washed my favorite merino wool sweater in cold water and hung it up to dry. Upon putting it on I discovered it shrunk about 5%, making it just a little too short above the waist. Is there a way to de-shrink wool or should I donate it to the People With Small Torsos Fund?
(disclosure: the tag said “dry clean only” but I’m too lazy to get myself to a dry cleaner and figured cold water would work.)

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19 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

@aklouie : You and your sweater are lumbered, I am sorry to say. Will it fit a pet? Or your neighbor’s kids? Or the scarecrow in your field next fall?

I wash all my (2) cashmere sweaters in the washing machine with cold water and then put on a rack to dry. They always come out perfectly. I hate the horrible stuff that the cleaners use. Just going in the door gives me a head-ache.

Cupcake's avatar

Wash it again in hot water and play arts and crafts with your new sweater-shaped felt.

gailcalled's avatar

@Cupcake: She’d have a nice potholder or trivet, also.

mcbealer's avatar

It is possible to resize, but you will have to do so very carefully. I have had the same thing happen, and this is how I fixed the sweater:

1. hand wash it in hand sink with some Woolite and cool water
2.gently press the water out by placing your hands flat on either side of the sweater, one section at a time
3. lay it out flat on a clean towel
4. roll the towel and sweater together, sort of like a diploma, to squeeze most of the water out
5. lay it out flat on a sweater hammock or similar type flat surface, and carefully shape it
6. while the sweater is still damp you will be able to gently pull on it this direction and that to help with resizing
7. do this carefully so you don’t disturb any stitches or rip any seams
8. allow the sweater to dry fully and voila!

Cupcake's avatar

@gailcalled – someone would be getting a new sweater-shaped Christmas present this year if it was me…

Some ribbons, bows, “I <3 Grandma”... voila.

Polly_Math's avatar

A time machine would be nice.

aklouie's avatar

@mcbealer Thank you mcbealer! I’ll give that a shot.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

put it back on the sheep and feed it

thriftymaid's avatar

Maybe. I’ve had luck by washing with Woolite then putting the sweater of top of two towels, fold long ways two times, then roll the towel up and squeeze as much water out of it as possible. Then put the sweater on a counter and stretch it back into shape and the right size. Let the sweater dry flat. Good luck. If it doesn’t work, a Cabbage Patch will appreciate it.

faye's avatar

I’ve done what mcbealer said and it worked for me.

Rude_Bear's avatar

You can’t. The same characteristics that allow you to spin wool into yarn are responsible for the shrinking. What has happened is the heat and agitation have caused the wool to twist and compress, causing the strands of yard to become shorter and thicker. i suggest you buy a doll or teddy bear so you can display your favorite sweater in it new form.

Jewel's avatar

Ctrl+Z. I reach for that command several times a week. Then feel silly and look around to insure I wasn’t seen.

casheroo's avatar

An unshrink ray.

ccrow's avatar

I had the same, or similar anyway, experience. Mine was also merino, but instead of getting shorter, it got ‘skinnier’... sleeves & all. I searched online for fixes & I ended up wetting it again w/some hair conditioner mixed into the water, then stretched it back into shape & let it dry(took forever!). It’s not quite the same but at least it’s wearable now. It did take a lot of stretching.

aklouie's avatar

update: I did the hand-washing and stretching according to @mcbealer, @thriftymaid, @ccrow, advice (used conditioner instead of woolite). After doing the roll-it-up-in-a-towel trick, i stretched and hung it up to dry. The sweater is still skinny but noticeably longer. Not quite to it’s original shape, but at least it’s wearable. I plan on doing a 2nd washing and stretching; if anything to get the conditioner smell out the sweater. ;) Thanks everyone.

gailcalled's avatar

@aklouie: Factor in what your time per hour is worth and perhaps have Santa get you a new sweater.

ccrow's avatar

^^ I second that advice ! ;-)

DrC's avatar

What @mcbealer explained is correct. You have to re-block the sweater by washing it again by hand (do not use hot water) and stretching out to it’s former proportions. You can lay down a towel on the bed and place the sweater on top of it, then use pins to keep the edges in place so it will dry stretched out.

If you wash sweaters in a regular wash cycle, the fibers become felted – just like a melded layer of wool – and that cannot be undone. From now on, hand wash very gently and lay out to dry after you have reshaped it. Or dry clean.

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