Today is laundry day. (Oh, joy. Right?) We don't have a washer and/or dryer in the RV. I hope to one day have an outdoor washing area to do the bulk by hand (I dream of having this wringer), but that is not our situation at this time. So I go to a local laundromat. The cost for a "regular" load is $3.50 to wash and $1.00 to $1.50 to dry. Since there's just two of us, we can usually get away with just one load a week for our everyday clothes, but anything such as sheets and bed quilts require an additional load (and an additional $5).
I'm pretty diligent with the bed sheets and top quilts, but have to admit the other blankets aren't getting the attention they deserve. One of my crocheted blankets is now crying for that attention. It's pretty dingy and smells a lot like dog.
Here's where I interrupt the flow and share about my heirloom crocheted blankets: I have six of them, all handmade for me by my grandmother. The first one I remember receiving was very frilly and girly – light and bright pastel colors with one whole side being tasseled. I still adore it. It's in my mother's storage right now, and unfortunately does have a small hole in it. I might have gotten that one while in elementary school; can't quite remember.
The next one is the one I washed today – a simple purple and white. She made that one for me when purple was my favorite color. It's easily over 25 years old, maybe even well over. I know that, because the one I consider most elegant is the rose and white squared one she made for my high school graduation (25 years ago). Since then, she has made me a Christmas red and green, and a Denver Broncos white-orange-blue (about 17 years ago). She also made my guy one for his Tampa Bay Buccaneers obsession. (Are you ready for some football?)
Here's a few stuffed in the linen storage area. Not the best picture, but I was too lazy to get them all out.
Back to the hand-washing a crocheted blanket exercise. It's a good idea to know what kind of yarn was used before washing. Using hot water can cause shrinkage in some materials. The common acrylic yarn can be machine washed on a gentle cycle and tumble dried with low heat. (I used to do that before we shrunk our living space down to an RV.) If you have no idea the yarn make-up, use cold water.
But let me add, in my humble opinion, I think crocheted items should always be hand-washed if at all possible. You can tell a noticeable difference in the yarn -- a weakening -- after agitation. (Maybe a front load machine wouldn't be as bad?)
Decide what (clean) basin you want to use and put your blanket in it. A bathtub would be great. I used the RV shower / tiny tub. Fill with water at the proper temperature until the blanket is submerged. Add mild detergent. (I used dish liquid – not a lot is required.)
Agitate the blanket for a bit – swish it around, turn it over – and let it soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Today, I soaked mine for 25 minutes because I got sidetracked with something else. The following image is embarrassing, but I'll share anyway – I call it "time + grime + dog."
After the swishing and soaking, you'll be ready to rinse. Drain, refill with cold water, and repeat at least a couple of times. I did that three times today, making sure no dirty soapy water was left attached to the blanket. I don't know if you can see it here, but there was a noticeable difference when done. I am very pleased with the results!
After the washing and rinsing is complete, the best way to dry is with the blanket laying flat. [Note: if hand-washing and drying crocheted clothing, always lay it flat. You'll want to re-shape it and leave it in that position until dry. Hanging is a no-no.]
This particular blanket is approximately 5 feet wide and 6 feet long. I do not have a suitable place to lay it flat until dry. So I'm breaking the rules and hanging it. Regardless of to where you move it, be prepared. Your crocheted blanket is going to be super-heavy. I gathered mine up, hugged it to my chest – soaking my shirt – and yelled at the dogs to get out of the way, as I ran the 20 feet -- drip, drip, dripping -- to the outdoors and a towel I placed on a table. Never you mind the fact that I had an empty laundry basket sitting right there (from the laundry I did earlier) I could have used. Hopefully you'll have more sense than I.
Expect drying time to be at least 24 hours. Mine has been hanging for a couple of hours and is still dripping. But I think it's definitely worth the time (and mere pennies) to do it yourself and preserve your handmade item. If you follow these simple steps, I think you'll be pleased with your freshly cleaned crocheted blanket.
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From my (rule-breaker) mountaintop to yours!