You may have read my entry here on choosing the right type of wool sweaters for wool diaper covers. And you should check out this page on where to get fabrics and patterns for wool diaper covers. In this post I will tell you how I wash and felt wool sweaters in preparation for cutting and sewing.
After I’ve chosen my wool sweaters, I bring them home in a sealed bag. If I am going to wash a ton of sweaters at once, I take them to the laundromat. I usually wash them on “warm” and “normal” : hot water is usually too hot and will shrink them so much that there is no stretch left (not good for comfort). I add a lot of detergent, and my favorite brand is A Happy Green Life. Their soap is seriously tough on dirt, and it smells amazing without irritating my very sensitive skin and nose. Pro tip: they almost always have a few detergents on sale! Their detergent is what I recommend for my cloth diapers, and my family uses it for all of our laundry!
If I am washing 2 washer loads, I will try to segregate colors: red and black tend to bleed and shed their fuzz on to other colors.
After they wash, I take them home and line dry them. I hang them upside down and clip the hem of the sweater onto the line. If you are not pleased with the thickness of the sweater after one wash, you can repeat the washing process. You can also dry the sweaters on HIGH heat in the industrial dryers if you are looking for more shrinkage. I use a variety of different thicknesses (for soakers and longies, I prefer a medium/thick with a bit of stretch, and for woolie wraps I prefer a thin/medium as the entire wrap is two layers).
I will write the next post on how to prepare the dry wool for cutting, and tips on cutting wool.