The Amazing Adventures of Tom and Bel

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

PS(K)A: Woe is Eu

The very kind Paula emailed about some drama she's having with the blocking of a handknit coat.

The short version is that the coat (made with Lopi) was soaked with Eucalan for purposes of blocking, but now has icky white residue and smells, frankly, like a wet and bedraggled sheep. Obviously, a less than desirable state of affairs, unless one's mission is to attact wet and bedraggled sheep (in which case: Hey! party time! I'll just leave y'all alone...).

Ahem. I digress. But in the interest of Public Service, I will share a couple of tidbits that may help:

1) The company recommend 1 tsp/gallon of water. I have seen no reason to change this ratio.
So I think you didn't use enough. This should conquer the smell of hot & nasty sheep.
(Oh, dear - Google's gonna have a field day with that one.)

2) I recommend manual washing where possible. No, no, don't run away! There is a semi-plausible pseudo-scientific reason for this.
You'll note that Eucalan is a lanolin wash with eucalyptus oil. Lanolin and eucalyptus oil are both oily substances, which you are putting into water. As you'll recall from such shining examples of chemistry as this:

(shamlessly snatched from the archives of Wait Wait -- Don't Tell Me!)

water and oil don't mix. The oil tends to rise to the top of the water. Add to this the ability of a wool garment to float and suck up a great deal of water before it sinks (great if you're a clumsy fisherman, not so great if you're actually trying to wash the dang thing), and you have a recipe for icky spots on your sweater.

Thus, in order to spread the Euca-love (hee - I crack myself up) throughout the garment, I believe the manual wash is the best way.

Now, I won't kid you: manual washing? Big pain in the keister.
(Fortunately for me, my personal keister is ample enough that the pain is lessened, somewhat. Baby gots back, and how. But again, I digress.)
However, manual washing ensures that you don't get the icky white spots on your sweater. For bigger pieces, I soak them in the bathtub and enlist this hot guy I know to (gently!) squeeze out the water.
Note: a washing machine where you can select cycles may be substuted for a bathtub and
a hot guy person of your choosing. You are not, however relieved of the responsibility to swish the Eucalan and your garment around in the water.

So, Paula (and world), there you have it. Hopefully, this will get your coat back on track!


  • Hail Cher, the Eucal-expert :-)

    Thank you so much for your truly expert advice. Although baby doesn't have much back (haveth the flat bum) she is willing to go for the manual wash where she can carefully measure the gallons of water to the teaspoons of Eucalan. Where she may enlist her washing machine is for the spin cycle (after carefully swishing her garment.)

    As for the nasty smelling garment - after several days (of hysteria) the smell went away entirely, the white residue (three small patches when the hysteria cleared) was brushed away, the blocking evened out the hem,(the objective)and it even gained a couple of necessary inches for the intended recipient. Success after all!

    By Anonymous Paula, at 11:57 AM  

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