How to Rescue an Acrylic Cardigan from Accidental Machine Washing

I have already outlined how to rescue acrylic knits from a hot spin cycle, but I did not think that the method could save anything more intricate than my garter blanket.

How wrong I was! Using the same methods, I have rescued a lovely handknit cabled cardigan my Nan accidentally put on a hot wash. I took some pictures and thought I’d share, as I now have access to a bath, which made the whole process a lot more streamlined and photogenic.

The primary problem with the cardigan was the squeakiness, which was beyond even my tolerance, and the tightness of the partially melted fibres. The first thing to do was to soak, so I mixed some lukewarm water with shampoo and hair conditioner (might as well clean at the same time!). Then I gently pushed the unbuttoned cardigan into the water and left it for 10 to 15 minutes.


When thoroughly soaked, I poured neat conditioner onto the fabric near the surface and massaged it gently into the wool, rubbing in short motions from collar to hem and back again. Then I opened the cardigan up, applied more conditioner and rubbed it into the other side of the fabric (the inside of the cardigan), finally I rolled the whole cardigan over and applied and massaged into the back.


Then, after a five minute soak, I put my palm on the fabric, fingers spread, and agitated the stitches from side to side. I did this all over, to every square foot of fabric, for about 20 minutes in total. Then, 5 minutes more soaking, and a lukewarm shower to rinse out excess hair products.


Then, I rolled it in a towel to squeeze out excess water, and lay it out flat to dry. The result is a much softer, more relaxed fabric that is significantly more comfortable to wear, and one which feels a lot closer to the fluffy fabric that went in the fateful washing machine than the cling film that came out.


Baby Foot Measurements for Knitting

I’ve been knitting a lot of socks, recently, and I know quite a few babies – so naturally baby socks have been on my mind. However, I have no idea what the average 18 month old’s foot measurements would be, and it would be useless gifting ill-fitting socks.

Some Googling found this very handy download, it’s all the information a baby sock knitter needs, with sources cited for good measure!

I take no credit for these measurements, I just had to share them.

How to make your own mannequin

I have been knitting for my shop and I realised that I needed a model who would stay still for long periods of time, work in any space and weather conditions and didn’t need paying. Someone suggested a taylor’s mannequin, but I don’t know anybody who has one I could readily access. Buying one was an option, but internet shopping has that pesky wait for delivery.

So I made my own. I used an old t-shirt, an old bikini bra top, a coat hanger and some leftover wool batting I had hidden away.

First, I sewed the armholes of the t-shirt shut, then put the coat hanger in the neck opening and sewed the neck shut around the hanger. I had a t-shirt that had a low cut split neckline, which when sewed created a line down what my mannequin would call her cleavage. When stuffed, this line helped define a bust. This line could be achieved in a high neckline by sewing a pleat where you’d like the cleavage line to be.


Despite this line, she needed more support – the fabric was very elastic – so I used an old bra from a bikini to define her shape more sharply. I then stuffed until she had the bust and waist measurements I wanted.


Then, I tied the bottom shut with a ribbon. If I ever want to model bigger, smaller or differently proportioned clothes, I can just undo this ribbon and alter the stuffing accordingly. This feels like an advantage over a store bought mannequin, it can be personalised to the exact proportions you want very easily.


Finally, I put a nice shirt on her – a turtle neck hides the neckline stitching perfectly – and pinned it into a good fit. Et voila, a model who will never mind being dangled precariously from a branch for a photoshoot in deepest winter, and is easily stored in the wardrobe.


To make men’s or children’s versions of this mannequin, you just leave out the bust defining stitching and use the appropriate size and style of shirt. For the stuffing you could use anything: plastic bags, tissue paper, the innards of an old pillow, or even a towel. The more your stuffing material is like commercial toy stuffing, though, the easier it will be to get a smooth, less lumpy surface.

And here she is, modelling like a pro: