Hallo readers, knitters, aspiring knitters and all positive thinkers out there, I hope you have had a great morning. Have you ever worn a knitted item, bought one for a friend or family member and with time you realized that your knitwear was either losing shape or increasing in size? Did you ever realize or find out the cause of this? If not this is an article for you to help you protect and care for your knitted items. So lets get started.

Before knitting it is recommended that you do a gauge swatch for your intended pattern. This will enable you to know the number of stitches and rows to make per inch using a certain type of yarn and needles. The gauge will determine the size of your finished knitwear.
Some yarns come with free patterns and the pattern contains the instruction of how to gauge your project. After knitting the swatch, wash it, let it dry then take the measurements, if the swatch is bigger or smaller than what is required for the project, you can either use smaller or bigger needles/crotchet hook than the one you initially used. You may have to repeat the gauge swatch more than once to ensure that you get exactly the size of needles/crotchet hook to use.
When knitting items like sweaters, tops, laptop sleeves or phone cases it is recommended that you take the exact measurement of the person or item that you are knitting for, as these projects are unique to different individuals. Do not assume that what worked for a different laptop for example will work for another laptop, as laptops and phones differ in sizes and shapes.
For sweaters, tops and skirts you may knit them a few stitches smaller as they stretch when worn.
Ensure you read the instructions on the label of the yarn as it will give you some information on how to take care of any knitted item that is made from that particular type of yarn. It will tell you whether the yarn is machine washable or not, if it can be ironed or not and if its shrink proof or not among others.

After doing the gauge swatch you will have an idea of how many stitches to work per row and how many rows to work in general. It is advisable that as you build your project, stop and count the number of stitches you are doing per row to ensure that you do not skip any stitches along the way as this will alter the pattern, size and outcome of your project. Count the number of rows that you have worked to ensure that you have the desired number before you bind off.
For beginners you can use stitch markers to show you the beginning and the end of a row and also help you know where to put your stitches. Stitch markers can be personalized for example when I first started knitting I used yarn of contrasting colour to mark my stitches then I moved to bobby pins and eventually I learnt to work my stitches without any marker.
You can also use a tape measure to find out if you knitted the right size of knitwear especially if you took measurements for your project.

After completing a project it is advisable to block your knitted item. Blocking can be defined as the process of changing the shape or size of an item or returning it to its original dimensions by redistributing the knit weave. Blocking does not alter the pattern of your knits.
Items to be used for blocking include; straight pins, hangers and blocking mats among others.
Importance of blocking include:
giving shape to a knitted item
maintaining the shape of a knitted item.

Fill a basin with lukewarm water, do not use hot water as its used for felting.
Use the required detergent preferably a liquid detergent.
Place your knitted item in water, lift and lower it gently but do not twist.
Empty the basin and gently press out excess water, be sure not to wring.
Fill the basin with clean water, place your knitted item back in and keep the item moving to rinse.
Squeeze out excess water without wringing.
Rinse a second time and a third if necessary to ensure that you get rid of all the detergent.
Lay the item flat on a dry towel, pat the top with a second dry towel to accelerate the drying process
lay it out to dry for thirty minutes or more and do not let it lay on a wet towel.
You can use straight pins to keep it laying firm.

Steam blocking requires the use of an iron box.
Pin your knitted item to the desired dimensions making sure that the wrong side of the knit is facing up.
Wet a towel and wring out the excess water so that it becomes damp.
Place the damp towel on top of your knitted item
Set the iron box to its hottest point and press down gently.
Repeat this until the towel is dry then lay your knit out to dry.

Never let your knitwear sit in water without agitating.
Undertake hand washing only when you have time to see the process to the end.
Wash one item at a time unless they are similar.
When taking knits for cleaning request that they may be measured and blocked. Incase of any previous custom blocking done to the knit let your cleaner know.
If your knit is multicolored let the cleaner know to ensure there is successful colour tracking.

Clean dirty knitwear before storing
Let it dry well before storing
Do not overcrowd your closet to enable your knitwear breathe
Keep away from moisture, dust and insects.
Fold your knits before storing them so as to maintain their shapes. This is important for seasonal or long-term storage
Use proper hangers for knits that are stored for a short term and avoid hanging heavy knits as they may suffer from the unequal distribution of its own weight
Do not store knits in polythene bags as they prevent the knits from breathing.
Use an ideal storage bag preferably with a zipper and a transparent window to allow contents to be seen without opening the bag.

It is now quite certain that your knitwear may get a hole after using it for a long time do not think of disposing your knitwear. This is because the knitwear can be repaired. If you are not a knitter do not worry you can always look for a professional to fix it for you.
I sure hope that this article will benefit you in one way or another until next time have a successful day.

The fear of failure is the barrier to your success.

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