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Caring for knitwear this winter

By Nicole Saunders

Caring for knitwear this winter

We all knew the unusually mild autumn we were blessed with this year wouldn’t last forever. As the temperature plummeted this week we turned to our wardrobes and the shops in search of winter woolies that will see us through the cooler days. To ensure we get the most of our winter essentials we sat down with knitwear expert and managing director of The Wool Company, Margot Riach, who share her valuable tips for caring for and buying knitwear with MiNDFOOD STYLE.

Knitwear can tend to lose its shape quicker than other garments. What’s the best way to store your winter knits to retain their shape?

In years gone by people have tended to shy away from washing their knitwear believing it will last longer if it isn’t washed. This is a myth, careful washing will keep your knitwear in shape and looking great. We would recommend folding your knitwear to keep it in shape. If you are wanting to hang your knitwear over the winter while you are wearing it frequently you’ll need to use a soft padded hanger so the shoulders don’t seat, some garments hang better than others.

Is it safe to throw your knitwear in the washing machine? Do washing methods vary for different types of wool?

Yes, washing can vary for different knitwear; you should always follow the care instructions on the garment label. We do recommend hand washing your knitwear in cold water using an approved wool detergent, you can then spin it on the gentle spin in the machine. Spinning it removes the excess water which can pull it out of shape. Always rinse at the same temperature you washed at, which is why we recommend cold, as warm water can be variable and this will cause shrinkage in your garment. Never use a detergent or fabric softener containing bleaching agents or enzymes on any wool garment, these eat through wool.

What is the correct way to dry knitwear once you’ve washed it?

Lay your garment flat to dry, will help it to retain it’s shape. Light coloured garments are best dried away from direct light. Never put your knitwear in the dryer, unless the care instructions say it is safe to do so.

Is there anyway to stop pilling? What can you do if you favourite winter woollies start to pill?

Washing actually reduces pilling. Pilling is variable and the same garment can pill on one person and not on another. It is caused by short fibres coming to the surface of the garment; washing eliminates these short fibres, keeping your knitwear looking great. Merino possum blends have the advantage of having a low pilling rate, which is attractive to those who do have problems with garments pilling.

What other tips can you share for caring for knitwear?

Moths and knitwear don’t go so well together. Many people keep there garments in sealed plastic over the summer months. Moth balls are no longer available but you can buy camphor oil from your pharmacy. This on a cloth in your knitwear draw should keep the moths out. If they have already set up camp in your woolens draw, an insect bomb is really your only course of action. Moth holes often appear as small holes like cuts on your garment, once washed many more often appear.

When buying knitwear is there anything particular you should look for to ensure what you are purchasing is high quality?

Buying New Zealand made knitwear will ensure your garments are guaranteed to be the best quality knitwear available. The knitwear companies still manufacturing in New Zealand have been making knitwear from New Zealand wool for many years. They have knowledge and pride in their workmanship, and are committed to keeping their manufacture local. As a country known for producing wool we need to support the industry to keep it in New Zealand. The Wool Company have a great range of quality New Zealand knitwear available online, by mail and in their country store.


The Wool Company have just released their 2016 Winter lookbook which is bursting with colour and it’s all New Zealand made. As well as their own label, a number of New Zealand-made brands are available from The Wool Company including Native World, Koru, Lothlorian and Sabatini that sit nicely alongside their own label.  You can visit their store in Utiku, request a copy of their catalogue by calling them on 0800 20 70 10, or shop online at


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