How do you care for noble fibres such as camel, yak and cashmere? Why is some wool machine washable? Innovations in the textile industry have made "easy care" garments ubiquitous, so why isn't all knitwear easy care?
Wool fibres are covered in fine scales. When washed these scales can lock together resulting in a felting effect that causes garments to shrink. To avoid this, wool is sometimes covered in either a polymer, or "superwashed" in an acid solution to remove the scales. Machine washable wool has therefore been altered from its original state so can behave and feel differently. It should be noted that yak is a smoother fibre, so generally suffers less felting than sheep wool.
Higher quality fibres are less likely to be treated in this way, which is why you rarely see fine yak and cashmere knits labeled as machine washable. Why would you degrade some of the world's finest fibres just so it can go in a washing machine?
If our products can't be machine washed, then what options are available to keep your Khunu fresh?
1. Buy a new washing machine: Many machines now have a wool setting which is a low intensity and temperature cycle designed to prevent felting and shrinkage.
2. Handwash: Literally place the garment in cold water, add some soap, soak away and then rinse.
3. Don't wash: I know, this sounds slightly unsavoury, but that's because we often wear synthetic and cellulose fibres that do need regular washing. Animal fibres are naturally anti-microbial so don't. You can wear a yak sweater for weeks and it won't smell, and if you did spend the previous evening in a crowded bar without a smoking ban, then just air it for a few hours and all will revert to normal. Confession - I've owned a couple of Khunu's for two years and NEVER washed them. They smell just fine.
4. Place your Khunu in the freezer: Weird I know, but it seems to freshen things up a bit. I'm not sure of the science behind this, but it seems to do something. Maybe the fibres like the cold. This can also help kill moth larvae, so worth doing periodically if you live in a moth plagued house. Remember to place in a plastic bag first.
We have no plans to change the properties of a great fibre by superwashing or polymer coating it, so just enjoy your Khunu in its natural state, and save yourself gallons of water a year by keeping it away from the washing machine.