Now you've done it. You didn't read the instructions in How to wash handknits. You threw the beautiful sweater / jumper that someone who loves you labored so hard and long to create into the ordinary wash, along with your nasty jeans and skanky t-shirts. You pulled out a matted shrunken mess.

What to do? Can this sweater be saved?

The answer is an unequivocal maybe.

Let's just say, we won't make it any worse. We might even restore it to a usable state. But no promises.

How to unfelt a felted sweater

  1. Get a really big pot. Put it on the stove. Yes, the stove.
  2. Pour in one pint (about 1/2 liter) of white vinegar. For pete's sake, do not use wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar. You won't be eating this.
  3. Fill the pot with water, leaving some room for the sweater.
  4. Put the sweater into the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil. Yes, a boil.
  6. Boil the sweater for 30 min to 2 hours. Yes, boil the sweater.
  7. Leave the sweater in the pot and allow to cool. You can speed this up a bit by rinsing the sweater in hot water, then successively cooler water, until it is cool enough to handle.
  8. Stretch the bejeezus out of it. A friend may be useful at this point.
  9. Keep stretching the bejeezus out of the sweater, always striving to restore it to its original dimension.

What you're doing is trying to relax the fibers, getting those little scales on the wool fibers to let go of their death hold on each other. If you're lucky, you'll end up with a sweater that is wearable, if very fulled. If not, consider giving it to someone smaller than you. Or the dog. Think of a good story when someone who loves you asks you about the sweater. Swear to never do that again (believe me, you won't). Commit to memory How to wash handknits.