Acrylic yarn gets kind of a bad rap, doesn't it? Many "real" knitters prefer natural fibers--angora, silk, cotton, merino wool at the very least. I know I can be a bit of a fiber snob at times, discounting certain materials to work with because of their fiber content.
And while it's true, if you're going to sacrifice hours and hours to create a beautiful knitted item, especially if it's a gift, you want to end up with a great result that you're happy with. But you should also sit back and think about the functionality of the item. While it's heavenly to work with a luscious, natural fiber yarn, if it's too delicate or difficult to care for all that hard work can be for naught.
That's why I love to use a super soft, easy to care for acrylic yarn for the Baby Cardigans I make for my shop. I know from experience that new moms and dads don't always have time for special care instructions for those tiny garments and nothing makes me happier than when I can provide a piece that will actually be used and well loved and washed over and over instead of just admired in the closet or dresser drawer but not put on baby for fear of ruining it.
Since I use the same acrylic yarn for all of these sweaters, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to demonstrate just how washable these cardigans really are. With that said, I give you A Tale of Two Sweaters:
For this demonstration, I chose two pink sweaters knit in 100% acrylic yarn. While acrylic yarn is a man-made fiber, it is hypoallergenic, vegan-friendly and machine washable and dryable--all good attributes for baby clothing. One sweater will be tossed in with the regular washing and the other will be "babied" one it's laundering journey.
The sweater on the left is destined for the regular cycle, the sweater on the right, placed in a zippered delicates bag to prevent any snagging, is going through the gentle cycle. I use a front load washer which is said to be gentler on clothes to start with (as it lacks a central agitator) and these sweaters were both washed on a cold wash/cold rinse setting with like colors. I use my own recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent. You can make your own batch very easily with just a few easy to find and inexpensive ingredients!
Here the sweaters are after their respective wash cycles. They get a little crumpled up during the spin cycle, and the fabric feels a little stiff while still wet.
The "babied" sweater is gently laid out flat to dry on a bath towel. I straighten the shape of it and give it a gentle tug here and there to square it up again and to ensure the two sides are lined up in the front.
The other sweater gets tossed in the dryer on Normal cycle with a medium heat setting.
My assistant inspects the merch. She felt them both, but gravitated towards the sweater that had been dryed! It comes out of the dryer softer and fluffier than when it went in.