If you are a non-knitter reading this you must think I'm crazy to be taking all that time to wash things that aren't even dirty. I would be if it wasn't for the existence of one very small creature - the dreaded moth. Letting handknits sit and hibernate all summer is like issuing an open invitation to any moth within a hundred miles to come visit your favourite sweater and see if they can, in a very short amount of time, ruin what took you months to make.
If you have never washed a sweater or other non-washable item by hand here are some quick tips. (There is probably a better way to do it, but I have been doing it this way for years and have never yet ruined an item.) I start with a no rinse wool wash. Soak is my current favourite. I run some lukewarm water into the bathtub, pour a small amount of Soak under the faucet, then swish it around to make sure it is nice and bubbly. Then I gently take my handknit and push it under the water, making sure it is completely submerged.
Next I set the timer for fifteen minutes and make a cup of tea. (The tea is not crucial, but I recommend it anyway.) When the timer rings, and when your tea is finished, let the water out of the tub. Now comes the tricky bit. I very gently push down on the sweater before I lift it up, getting out some of the excess water. Then I carefully pick it up and very gently squish - note, squish, don't squeeze or wring, and yes, there is a difference - more of the water out.
Now that the tricky bit is over the fun part comes next. Have a large towel - a beach towel works well - flat on the floor. Put your handknit on the towel, roll it up, then walk on the towel. Yes, walk. If it is a bulkier item like a heavily cabled sweater you might want to have a second towel and repeat that last part. Then you just need to find a flat place out of harm's way where the item can dry.
It was always that last step that caused me so much grief when we lived in Kamloops. Although it gets so hot there you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, there was no way I could put something out on our back deck to dry. The wind was constantly blowing, and I'm not talking about a slight breeze. Twice while living there we had the wind lift up our patio table, and we once had it move our BBQ. This meant I had to dry my things inside the house, and the only place safe from animals was on a rack over the bathtub. The problem was it took me the whole month of July to work my way through all my things since I could only do them one at a time.
Not any more! I was so happy to discover that it is perfectly safe to put things out to dry on our new back deck.
Well, they are safe if you don't count the threat of squirrel damage or bird droppings. It's a risk I'm willing to take. It has been like a wool washing assembly line around here. Not only can I put things on a clean sheet on the deck, I have also been able to use the hammock as a make-shift clothes dryer.