This month, former Team Estelle member Lynn Cullen graciously offered to guest write our Tips with Trish feature on a product she has learned to never block without. Take it away Lynn!
Nothing can brighten a gloomy day, quite like a skein of yarn in a richly saturated shade can. Even better? Knitting with said yarn, of course! What can have the opposite effect, however, is washing that skein of yarn once its been knit up, only to see that some of that gorgeous deep colour has bled into the next shade. Oh, the horror!
After having had this happen to myself more than once, I made a rather thrilling discovery while at my local quilt shop one day. The owner had some boxes lined up behind the counter, and I couldn’t resist asking about them. Turns out, they were “colour catchers”, small sheets of what feels like fairly thick paper, that get tossed into your laundry basin. Their job is to absorb any delinquent dye that tries to escape from your fabrics, and in my experience, they do a pretty good job of it!
While the quilt shop owner explained that they were great if you find yourself wanting to wash a quilt made using high contrast colours, it was my basket of deeply saturated handknits that immediately came to mind.
So, I bought a box, and went home to give it a try. After just one load of laundry – I was a convert! Not only just with my knitting, but with my everyday laundry. I never do a load without tossing one in!
But… we are here for the knitting, so let me explain how best to use a “Colour Catcher” before casting on any project that may risk leaching colour into the laundry basin. While I realize that in a perfect world, yarn would never bleed colour into the wash water, the reality is that sometimes… it happens. Particularly with those rich, vibrant shades that I personally cannot get enough of.
I recently knit a sweater for my daughter using the Manos Alegria Grande Bocados Colour Pack in the warm tones, and I had visions of finally completing my masterpiece, only to have the colour from the colourwork yoke seep into the pale grey stocking stitch body of the sweater.
The solution? Before winding the skeins into balls, I soaked them in some room temperature water with a squirt of Eucalan for fifteen minutes, along with a colour catcher at the bottom of the basin. The result? Clear water, with a Colour Catcher that came out a different colour than it went in – no longer white, but more of a pink-ish grey.
When your project is complete, simply block as you normally would and include a Colour Catcher in the water to be sure you managed to get every last drop of sneaky excess dye out of there! If you’re like me, and want a little extra insurance, toss a second Colour Catcher on top of the water so that your project is sandwiched between two of them.
The wonderful thing about Colour Catchers is that they are affordable and can be used more than once. I tend to use them about three or four times before tossing them. Simply hang them to dry after each use.
Even though I have soaked my skeins with a Colour Catcher, and then blocked my sweater with one (or two!), I will likely still use one as I subsequently launder this sweater, just to be extra cautious. For the minimal effort required to use this handy little product, I have no qualms about continuing to use one, to keep my sweater looking fresh for as long as possible. Which quite frankly, could be a wasted effort… given that it is going to be worn by a four year old!
Available at many big box stores in the laundry aisle, I am certain that once you start using these in your knitting, you will find yourself using them in every load of laundry you do. No luck with the Big Box stores? Then give your local quilt shop a call! Or better yet, call your local yarn shop, and see if they might be able to source some for you.
So tell us – have you ever used Colour Catchers? And what did you think of them? Let us know in the comments below!
Happy knitting everyone!
A big thank you to Lynn for her contribution this month! I can happily report that I was able to locate Colour Catchers at my local grocery store and I, too, am now a convert. Thanks again Lynn!