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Reverse Shrinkage: How To Un-Shrink Wool

I may or may not have shrunk a pretty special persons pretty special wool cardigan. I am not sure how I did it as I am the most pedantic person when washing clothes and refuse to put anything that isn’t pj’s in the dryer. Nevertheless the cardigan is much smaller than what it was before I got my mitts on it, and as much as I tried to blame the orignal owner on weight gain (this did NOT help the situation), there is no doubt that I have committed a serious fashion-borrowing crime.

As the cardigan is made from alpaca wool and bought in Bolivia (this just gets worse and worse 😦 ), replacing it isn’t exactly an option.

Cue a google marathon in search of the best un-shrinkage methods! Thanks to Cindy Capitani, I have found 3 effective methods for reversing shrinkage…

Method 1:

  • Fill your tub with a few inches of warm water and add a generous amount of hair conditioner.
  • Gently work the solution through the entire sweater, kneading it as you go. Pull it out of the water and place on a stack of bath towels (since the sweater will be soaking wet) and then gently stretch the sweater into the former shape.
  • Allow to dry in a cool room. Repeat if needed. Then fully rinse the conditioner, and lay flat to dry.

Method 2:

  • Soak the garment in warm water with a mild soap for about 10 minutes. This unlocks the fibers in the wool.
  • Lay the garment out on some towels in a cool place. Stretch the garment out to its original dimensions. The stretching pulls the unlocked wool fibers away from each other.
  • Allow it to dry. The absence of heat from the drying process allows the wool fibers to set in place without locking together and shrinking the garment again.

Method 3:

  • Prepare a cool, dry room. Close windows and blinds during sunny weather, or wait until night. Run fans or turn up the air conditioner.
  • Soak the sweater. Be sure to use the coolest water you can comfortably hold your hands in (you’ll need to handle your sweater to stretch it, so this is important). Hold the sweater under water long enough to make sure it’s fully soaked (until bubbles stop rising to the surface of the water).
  • Gently wring the sweater out by hand by pressing and folding, rather than twisting the fabric.
  • Hang the sweater in the prepared room. Stretch out a dry towel beneath where it’s hanging to catch any drops of water that may still fall.
  • Aim fans to blow on the sweater. Wait a few hours.
  • Use your hands to stretch out any sections that haven’t yet stretched sufficiently, especially parts like cuffs or sleeves that won’t have been weighted down.
  • Lay the sweater on a flat surface, on top of a spread out towel. If it needs any further stretching, use hand weights to stretch the material out and hold it in place. Let dry.




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3 thoughts on “Reverse Shrinkage: How To Un-Shrink Wool

  1. I’ve never heard of doing that…Good to know because mistakes do happen!

  2. Late to the shout-out by 15 months, but it’s never to late to say thank you and I hope I can link back to you (I’m certain someone’s grandmother will say that someday. Maybe it will be me. Ha!)I miss my Best Advice blog; perhaps it’s time to start it up again. Now I’m writing about NYC development: rficommunicates.

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