Why my sweater itchy!
Sweater, a stable gift of the holiday season (...also socks) and auntie Phyllis insists on knitting you a new one every Christmas just because that one time you complimented on her’s. We all know you should be grateful when someone puts thoughts and work into your gift but her sweaters are always so forkin’ itchy! 😱 Even if you put on an undershirt and not moving, it still feels like you are wearing a mosquito-wrap with Santa’s face on it.
Of course, the most effective way to stop the itch is to tell your aunt you were just being polite when you said you liked her holiday themed sweater and that her wool sweaters scratch so much, you put them all in a box marked DO NOT OPEN. But then you will break that sweet lady’s heart and we do not do that to aunt Phyllis!
So here’s how to fix that itchy problem without untangling that web of harmless white lies that’s holding the family together. 😅
First, why do some sweaters feel itchy?
Main reason: hair is not smooth.
Just like human hair, under the microscope, you can see wool fiber (pretty much a sheep’s hair) has scales. And the scales rub against your skin, which can make you feel itchy and scratchy. Other reasons like an allergy to lanolin (natural wax on sheep’s hair) or skin condition can also cause you to itch. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, some sweaters might feel itchy to you but not to others.
Low quality yarns are usually made from animals with thicker and coarser hair as thinner and smoother hair tend to be more expensive. The texture and quality of hair can also vary between different animal of the same breed, event on different parts of the same animal. Which means it’s possible for your expensive cashmere sweater to feel scratchy. (More on the scientific end)
Here is a quick list on common natural sweater yarns. I added the links if you want to read more about the fiber, their warmth and stuff but here we are only focusing on the itchy level, cause this article is about saving family relationships.
Wool - from sheep Itchy level varies depending on the quality
Wool - from lamb Sheep’s first ‘haircut’, shouldn’t itch
Wool - from Alpaca Generally not itchy
Merino wool - from sheep, Wool - from Yak, Cashmere - from goat
Quite soft, legit quality ones shouldn’t itch
Mohair - from Angora goat Soft and shouldn’t itch
Angora - from Angora rabbit Very freakin’ soft, shouldn't itch
(This is confusing, I know. Why not call Angora goat ‘Angora’ and just call the rabbit ‘Rabbit’. … people are cray…)
Acrylic - and other synthetic fiber Since it’s man-made, it will not have scales and shouldn’t itch. Good quality synthetics can even be blended with the natural wools to increase the wearability of the sweater. Do keep in mind tho, you can still be allergic to the chemicals even if it’s blended.
Now the part you’ve been waiting for! How to fix it! (So you can finally open that Pandora’s Box of aunt Phyllis’s love) Similar to using conditioner in human hair to repair damage, animal hair can be ‘repaired’ as well.
Soak sweater in cold water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar - 15 min
Drain the water, massage in hair conditioner and let it set - 30 min
Rinse out with cold water and lay flat on a towel - Till dry
Put in a ziplock and leave it in your freezer - Till morning
Basically, this method softens the hair, repairs the fiber and controls the fuzz. For more detailed instruction click here. It is possible after all of that aunt Phyllis’s Christmas tree sweater still feels like wearing an actual Christmas tree. In that case, you got 360 days to become itch-resistant or change your name and move to Mexico.
On a different note, I actually like cheeky sweaters. I go to second-hand shops cause they are great for finding quality non-itchy pieces at awesome pricing. (I got an angora cardigan last week for like $25 😆! )These pieces have been clean and there’s a chance the previous owner took care of the hair conditioning already!