Unwarp my cardigan, please!
January 6, 2012 12:39 AM   Subscribe

My cardigan came out of the wash all warped/twisted. Can I fix this or is it a goner?

The cardigan is a blend of 45% nylon, 8% cashmere, 47% merino wool. I washed the cardigan for the first time today and tried to lay it flat to block it, as I do with all my sweaters to make sure they dry in the right shape. But it seems that the knit got warped in the wash and now the whole cardigan is twisted around. If I pick it up by the shoulders, the bottom button is a good two inches off center. If I straighten out the torso, the neckline gets really wonky and asymmetrical.

This has never happened to my other cardigans or sweaters, including a bunch of "hand wash only" items, and I'm annoyed that I splurged a bit on this one and only got to wear it twice. Is there any way to undo the warping? If there's nothing I can do myself, would a dry cleaner have other methods?
posted by keep it under cover to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It *might* be rescueable if you rewash it very gently, by hand, without any wringing or rubbing, and squeeze it out, and let it dry flat on a towel or something. If it is felted or shrunk though, I think it is dead and gone, and will make a nice cushion cover, or pot holder. I don't like to malign dry-cleaners, but I think you will do a better job trying to revive your cardigan.
posted by thylacinthine at 1:04 AM on January 6, 2012

Best answer: As long as it's not felted (in which case, yeah, cushion cover time), and is a natural fiber, you may be able to resurrect it by soaking it through again and then blocking it as if it were a hand knit.
posted by Wylla at 1:21 AM on January 6, 2012

Best answer: Just to add detail - for a seriously warped sweater, I'd soak it through and then blot with a towel as shown in the video i linked, and then stretch back to the appropriate proportions, using pins about every 3 inches along the edges , major seams, and the center button band, except where there's ribbing (which you want to stay springy). It's worth a try, even with 45% nylon, as blends with natural fibers will often block.

The 'warping' you are describing is possibly due to the yarn in the sweater being 'energized' or unbalanced - that's why cheap t-shirts also warp, so if you save the sweater, you will need to be very careful about washing it in the future - energized yarns want to return to their natural state, and the 'warping' will come back.
posted by Wylla at 1:34 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you washed it according to the instructions and this happened, you should return it. Even if you don't have the receipt, there are (I think) consumer protection laws that mean they have to refund your money or offer store credit at least.
posted by cilantro at 2:26 AM on January 6, 2012

Totally true - I was assuming (based on the fact that the sweater contains cashmere, even in a small amount) that machine-washing wasn't recommended. If it was, then return the thing, rather than attempt to block it!
posted by Wylla at 2:30 AM on January 6, 2012

Any chance you can post a picture so we can see more clearly what's going on? Also, I'm assuming you machine-washed it? On hot, or warm, or cold? Was a dryer involved? Is it shrunk at all, and can you still see the individual threads or is it matted together? If it's shrunk and matted, it's felted, and I don't know any way to revive it (I intentionally felt sweaters on a regular basis for crafting purposes, and I've never known it to be reversible). I'd doubt a sweater with 55% nylon would felt significantly (usually only natural fiber felts well), but there's always an element of chance.

If it hasn't felted, you may have more luck. In any case, as above posters say, if you followed the washing instructions and this still happened, I'd definitely take it back.
posted by UniversityNomad at 9:31 AM on January 6, 2012

Response by poster: I did machine-wash it, in cold water with just a few other delicates. I put all my "hand wash only" sweaters in the machine and they've always come out fine, but I guess I wasn't so lucky with this cardigan.

The sweater has not shrunk at all, and the yarn still looks and feels the same as it did when it was new (not felted). Wylla, what you said about cheap t-shirts warping, that's exactly what it looks like. Does that mean the cardigan will get twisted out of shape again every time I wash it, even if I wash it by hand? And actually, even before I washed it, I noticed that the button placket kept pulling slightly to one side and the collar didn't really lay quite right (I thought washing and then blocking would solve that, but it only got much worse). I should have asked for a refund after the first wear.
posted by keep it under cover at 6:19 PM on January 6, 2012

It probably won't warp this badly if handwashed and laid flat to dry with the seams arranged how you want them in the future...but it will demand some care, just like you can generally get a t-shirt to set up OK by stretching it a little from the seams after you wash it.

Basically, if it is 'energized yarn', the problem is in the thread itself - it wants to lean in one direction because it's been spun with too much twit in one direction.
posted by Wylla at 12:17 AM on January 7, 2012

Perhaps you can still take it back? As you say, probably better to have asked for a refund after the first wear, but if it was misshapen initially before the washing incident, and you only washed in cold water, I'd say it's arguably fair game to try to get a refund...
posted by UniversityNomad at 1:05 PM on January 7, 2012

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