"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either." ~ Elizabeth Zimmerman



I had a rather frightening experience last week that I've been wanting to write about. Today is the day. First, let me say that Chocolate Cephalopod arrived at it's destination safe and sound on Saturday. I convinced the receiver  to open his package early because, well, I just couldn't wait any longer to KNOW. I had to know, you know? As it turned out, I installed Skype, and my daughter set her computer up so I could watch Frank unwrap his present. It was very exciting. He was thrilled! He loves the octopuses on it. Sarah sent me a picture after he put it on. It fits him wonderfully well.

I am pleased, and relieved, and happy! But three days before I was living a nightmare.

On Wednesday I decided to wash Chocolate Cephalopod because, after being worked on for a year, it was rather dirty in places. The yarn used to make this is labeled as Super-wash Merino and machine washable. So, I washed it in cool water in my machine on the very gentle hand wash cycle. It looked fine when I took it out.

Then I put it in the dryer on the Knits/low setting. When it was dry I opened the dryer and pulled it out and promptly had a heart attack! The sweater had pilled. I mean REALLY pilled. It was just COVERED in them. I've never seen anything like it in my life! And I've seen some really crappy yarn in my lifetime. Not only that, but there was a hole in one of the sleeves! WTF!!! I actually started to cry. In fact, I almost got hysterical! So much time and work, and love went into that sweater (not to mention the money spent on the yarn!) and it looked just horrible! Here is a pic to show you. The whole thing was covered in these fuzzy bits.

After my husband got me calmed down so I could think straight (a shot of whiskey was involved), I went about fixing it. First I repaired the hole in the sleeve. I don't know what caused it. We're speculating that maybe there's something sharp in the dryer that it caught on. I need to go over the inside with my hands and see if such is the case. Anyway, I got the hole repaired so you can't even see where it was from the outside. Repairing holes in knits is something I've become quite skilled at over the years.

What are pills on sweaters? They are little balls of fuzz where loose bits of the yarn have felted a bit. Most sweaters pill somewhat when worn. Especially under the arms because the arms rub on our sides a bit. Heat plus friction equals felting. But Superwash wool is not supposed to do that, especially when washed. It's been specially treated to prevent it.

The solution to getting rid of pills is to gently shave them off with a disposable razor, like this.

Some folks use a tool specifically designed to shave pills off of sweaters, for example, this one.

I don't have one. I can count on 3 fingers the number of times I've needed to remove pills, including this time. So I had to use the razor. Not a big deal, but time consuming.

Every so often I stop and wipe away the fuzz with a lint brush.

It took me 2 hours of repeating those two steps to get the entire sweater, inside and out, looking like it is supposed to. This is what it looked like when I finished.

Quite the difference! This is the pile of fuzz I removed from the sweater. It's about 5 inches tall.

My daughter remarked that the pile was big enough a person could spin it into yarn and make a whole 'nuther sleeve with it.

I don't think anyone but another knitter can understand how devastating this experience is for me. I spent a great deal of money on what was supposed to be a high quality yarn from a reputable company because I know that if a person is going to put that kind of work into making something, it should be done with materials that will make it an heirloom. I chose that particular yarn specifically because it was supposed to be machine washable. Now the sweater will have to be very gently hand washed and laid flat to dry. It probably won't wear very well. I suspect I will need to repair more holes in the future. It saddens me. Really.

However, I am thankful that I had the knowledge and skill to fix the sweater so it is wearable, and even beautiful. And I am especially thankful that Frank loves the sweater because I love Frank very much. He is the best son-in-law a person could ask for.

Live long and prosper. \\//

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