Upon the first washing we have found that our un-dyed SilverSpun can shrink up to 12%. It tends to shrink more in length than width. There are a few ways to handle this, and make sure that your finished item will be the right size!
Option 1: Work a looser gauge
The first, and easiest option, is to go up a needle size and knit a little extra length, knowing that the item will shrink the first time you wash it. If you're knitting an average adult sock usually an extra 2/3-1" will be enough to account for the shrinkage. Since SilverSpun is also very stretchy they are forgiving and will stretch quite a bit to fit your foot.
Option 2: Calculate Shrinkage
If option 1 leaves too much to chance and you want to know EXACTLY how much your finished item will shrink after you wash it make a gauge swatch (something you should do anyways!) and measure your swatch (both for length and width). Soak the swatch it in tepid water for at least 15 minutes. Press out excess water and lay flat to dry. Once the swatch is completely dry measure again and compare the measurements. If the gauge of your swatch doesn't match the pattern you can increase or decrease your needle size and repeat the process to make sure that your item matches the gauge in the pattern after being washed.
Option 3: Pre Shrink
Another option is to pre-shrink your yarn. Untwist your skein of SilverSpun and submerge in tepid water for at least 15 minutes. Press out excess water and hang the skein to dry somewhere where there's good air circulation--on a drying rack or on a hanger. Placing it near a fan will help it dry faster. The upside to pre-shrinking your yarn is that you won't have to worry about figuring out how to adapt your pattern or your gauge, the downside is you'll have to wait for the yarn to dry before casting on!
If you choose to pre-shrink your skein you'll find that your skein gets considerably smaller! No worries, it'll stretch out again as you start winding and then knitting your yarn. The skein will be super stretchy, but you can counteract the stretchiness of the skein when pre-shrinking by weighting the skein down as it dries. Just tie a a small weight to the end of the skein when you hang it up to dry.
A few things to note:
- Our dyed yarns won't shrink. They are submerged in water during the dye process--and thus come pre-shrunk.
- Once the initial shrinkage your yarn won't shrink again.
- When washing your item for the first time, or when pre-shrinking your yarn, some skeins will oxidize in parts. Small areas of brown spots can appear and this is not the silver--but the cotton. These can easily be washed out, so if this appears just give your item another quick wash. This is just part of using all natural cotton.
This all sounds difficult...why should I do it?
Rome wasn't built in a day, and your SilverSpun sock/glove/sweater won't be knit in a day either. Putting in a little time at the front end will help ensure that your finished piece comes out looking just the way you want! After all, SilverSpun is a long wearing and quality sturdy yarn that will last for years to come. If you're going to be wearing and enjoying the item for the next 10 years, isn't it worth a little extra time on the front end to make sure you'll love your hand knit item down the road?