Does Crochet Shrink? (Preventative Tips Included)

Almost all types of garments experience some form of shrinkage over time. Knowing this, you might be wondering if garments that are crocheted shrink, too. You’ll definitely want to know before throwing that beautiful new sweater in the dryer.

Does crochet shrink?

Crochet does shrink for various reasons. It can shrink because of the fiber type used in crocheting, how the crochet is washed, and the stitches of the crochet.

Fortunately, it is possible to prevent shrinking in crocheted garments. In some cases, you might even be able to unshrink a shrunk crochet.

You must be wondering how to prevent or reverse shrinkage in crocheted items. In this article, we go over crochet shrinkage, how to prevent it, and how to unshrink a shrunk crochet.

different color of Crochet hexagons on wooden table

Reasons Crochet Shrinks

Crocheted items shrink, and when they do, it is easy to tell. One of the primary reasons crochets shrink is the type of fiber used in making them.

Fibers such as wool, mohair, and cashmere are more likely to shrink than other types. So, if your crochet is made of any of those fibers, you should expect it to shrink.

Besides the type of fiber used in crocheting, some types of stitches may also make crochet prone to shrinking. For instance, your crochet is likely to shrink when you make short stitches, such as single stitches, in extended rows.

Also, if the number of stitches across the rows of your crochet is disparate, the crochet may shrink. Yet another cause of your crochet shrinking is if you are not starting and ending the stitches at the right spot.

Crochets made with stitches that are too tense are also likely to shrink.

Apart from fiber and stitch types, the method you use in washing your crochet may also cause shrinkage.

Generally, crochets washed with hot water are likely to shrink.

Also, if a piece of crochet is machine-dried, shrinking is highly likely.

Tips to Prevent Shrinking in Crochet

The good news is, even with all the factors above, you can prevent shrinking in your crochet. The following are some preventative tips that can keep your crochet from shrinking:

1. Natural Wool Crochet Should Be Hand-Washed

wool colored clothes newly washed beside a wooden basket

As we mentioned earlier, crochet made from natural wool is more likely to shrink than that made from other types of fibers. The chances of shrinkage are even higher when the crochet is washed with a machine. So to prevent your natural wool crochet from shrinkage, hand wash it.

Besides handwashing your crochet, ensure you only use cold water while washing. Using hot or warm water to wash wool crochet will cause it to shrink for sure.

Like wool, cashmere and mohair crochets may also be prone to shrinking. So, the information above applies to them too.

Besides handwashing crochets made with these fibers, ensure you do not dry them in the machine. Instead, after washing the crochets, hang them to dry.

2. Pre-wash Your Fiber Before Crocheting or Opt for Treated Yarns

Crochet fibers curl naturally, and this causes crochets to shrink. So, before you knit with them, pre-wash them.

By pre-washing crochet fiber, you reduce its tension, make it softer, and reduce the likelihood of shrinkage.

You may also opt for superwash wool, a type of wool treated to prevent felting. Crochet made with superwash wool can be washed with hands or a machine. However, no matter the means of washing, use cold water.

3. Work With Fabrics That Do Not Stretch Readily

A ball of string or thread and a metal crochet hook  with folded fabric

Not all types of yarns stretch readily when machine-washed. Fabrics like cotton, ramie, acrylic, and linen will not stretch when washed with a machine on a gentle cycle using cold or warm water.

Since these fibers do not stretch readily, they are unlikely to shrink.

4. Assess Your Stitches Thoroughly

If you do not make your own crochet, this tip may not apply to you. But if you do, pay attention to your stitches.

When knitting, do not make your stitches too tight. Also, ensure you finish your edges properly. Then again, be consistent in the size of your stitches.

You may also want to count your stitches to ensure each row has the same number of stitches. This may be tedious, but it is worth it.

How to Unshrink Crochet

Accidents happen! So, sometimes, even after taking precautions, you may still shrink your crochet.

When this happens, do not fret; if your crochet is made of natural fiber, you just might be able to unshrink it.

To unshrink your crochet, you will need the following:

  • A plastic bowl or bucket
  • Tepid or cold water
  • Fabric softener, baby shampoo, or hair conditioner – ensure the product you use is free of harsh chemicals.
  • A clean, flat surface such as an ironing board or plastic board.
Two bottles of blank liquid Laundry Detergent on colored knitted texture background.

Once you have all the necessary materials, follow the steps below to unshrink your crochet:

  1. Pour warm or cold water in the bowl or bucket till it reaches the halfway mark.
  2. Add one tablespoon of hair conditioner or a few capfuls of fabric softener or baby shampoo to the water. Then mix.
  3. After making the mixture in step 2, place the crochet to be unshrunk in the bowl. Ensure every part of the crochet is submerged in the mix.
  4. Gently massage the crochet while it is in the mixture. Then leave it to soak for around 1 to 2 hours. During the soaking period, the chemicals will work their way into the fibers and make them relax. Ensure you do not agitate the bowl or bucket when you soak the crochet.
  5. After the soaking period, get the crochet out of the mixture, then rinse it thoroughly to remove any conditioner, baby shampoo, or fabric softener in it.
  6. When you are done rinsing, let the crochet drain without you wringing it. Wringing the crochet at this stage might damage the fiber.
  7. Place the crochet over a clean, flat surface (ironing board or plastic board) and stretch as much as the fabric allows.
  8. Keep the crochet stretched in place by securing its edges with clothespins. Then leave it to dry for around 24 hours or as long as needed.

Conclusion

Generally, crochets shrink when they are exposed to high temperatures in the washer or dryer. Especially those made with natural wools. So, you should only handwash this type of crochet.

Besides issues surrounding laundering, crochets may also shrink if their stitches are faulty. So, if you make your own crochets, examine the stitches thoroughly.

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