Although I have four grown children, I have no grandchildren! In fact, at the moment, none of my grown kids are married. Now that I have begun knitting again, I love some of the baby and young child knitted projects I am seeing. (I will write a post listing some favorite designs soon.)
Moms have very little time to themselves and I don’t think they would like the idea of hand-washing garments for their kids. Lots of yarn requires hand-washing only, or machine washing on gentle and drying flat. I’m looking for yarn that can handle washing and even machine drying.
How to Find Natural Fiber Yarns That Go in the Washer
After knitting up a couple of pink baby hats as starter projects, I gave them as a gift to a friend. Unfortunately they were knit with merino yarn that had to be hand-washed. Now that I know better, gifting hats to new parents means knitting in yarns that wash well in the machine, and if possible, can go into the dryer.
Lots of cheaper yarns (usually made of acrylic) are easy to care for – I will list some acrylic yarns at the end of this post. But these yarns are not as soft and unique as natural fibers. Most really nice yarns must be hand washed, so I’m looking for the in-between choices.
Without buying every kind of yarn out there, how do I really know what yarns to choose? There is no easy answer except to search online (unless you have a local store). A good place to start is Ravelry, where knitters leave comments about specific types of yarn. Search for the type of yarn, then view the comments about it. Sometimes there are a lot of opinions, and sometimes not. I’ve spent a lot of time reading reviews to create this list!
All prices are estimates of what I saw at the time of writing this post.
Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino
This is a yarn I have been considering for a while now. I wanted to knit a small baby blanket and began searching for yarn. Rowan’s Baby Cashsoft Merino can be machine washed, but lay flat to dry. It is made up of wool, acrylic, and cashmere. The nicest thing about this yarn is that it comes in lots of good baby colors. ($9.95 / $10.00 for 142 yards – that is not a lot of yardage)
Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino
You don’t have to knit for baby with yarn that has “baby” in the title, but it’s worth a look if the maker has tried to create a truly soft, wearable yarn. Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK doesn’t get the greatest reviews on Ravelry, but it comes in lots of pretty baby colors.
What reviewers at Ravelry say: Doesn’t wash well – shrinks and felts. Also knitters mentioned pilling. However, reviews at Jimmy Bean’s were all good!
Cost: $9.95 for 127 yards
HiKoo CoBaSi – No Wool!
Some people don’t want to take the chance that baby may be allergic to wool. Alternatives are usually cotton or bamboo which can be a bit stiff and unforgiving.
HiKoo CoBaSi yarn is something different and it gets great reviews from knitters! It is available at Jimmy Beans and is made of cotton, bamboo and silk. (Also see more colors at Dizzy Sheep – which offers free US shipping!) It is “soft and machine washable” and “perfect for baby garments”. Probably drying flat is best, but it can go in the dryer. Use to knit summer, or warm weather clothing. ($8.00 for 220 yards, so it’s cheap!)
Ravelry reviewers generally say good things about this yarn. It is long lasting for socks, good for people allergic to wool, great for warm weather wear. It stretches nicely and gives good stitch definition. Goes in washer and dryer! Really… I would like to try this yarn.
Babies born in summer can benefit from newborn items knit in this type of yarn. I am thinking it may be a good choice for those of us who live in warm climates year round.
As I searched for baby patterns made with CoBaSi, I found that many knitters used the yarn to make toys / stuffed animals. If you are into that, this yarn seems like the perfect choice.
Malabrigo yarn is well known and loved by knitters. I’ve used their bulky Rasta yarn to knit a few hats, and Rios to knit a sweater. Malabrigo sock is 100% merino wool, and is machine washable, but needs to lay flat to dry. Skeins are 440 yards and cost a bit less than $20.
In fact most “sock” yarn will be washable. After all, who wants to hand-wash socks! But it may not be as soft as you’d like for a baby item. Sock yarn is usually fingering weight, so hold two strands together to make a thicker item.
I think I would prefer a blend, like the yarn listed below. Any superwash merino tends to stretch with washing – and I can attest to that when I knit the Polliwog Popover baby sweater in Lorna’s Laces yarn. I loved the yarn, but it did stretch like mad.
Cascade Cotton Yarn
I usually use all cotton yarn for dishcloths and dish towels, but lots of knitters use if for baby things.
Cascade Ultra Pima is a washable yarn which is all cotton. Directions say to wash in cool water and tumble dry on low setting. Cotton doesn’t have a lot of give, so this may be best for a baby blanket, bib, or something that doesn’t need to stretch. ($10.00 for 220 yards)
Mrs. Crosby’s “Hat Box”
I have a few skeins of Mrs. Crosby’s yarn and it is lovely. The “Hat Box” is made of wool, silk and cashmere and comes in a wide variety of colors including variegated colors and some pretty colors which would work for a baby. It is Sport weight, and costs around $29.00 for 317 yards.
Purl Soho’s “Posy”
Purl Soho has a washable merino, cashmere and nylon yarn called Posy. It a more expensive choice at $29.00 for 318 yards. They also sell smaller skeins of the same yarn called Pocket Posy – which could be purchased for colorwork projects. Posy has a pretty pale pink color and a few others that may be suitable for baby items.
Ravelry comments on Posy say it tends to pill, so not good for socks, or clothing maybe. Also that it seems thicker than a regular fingering weight yarn.
Just remember that it’s always a good idea to include directions for the person who will be responsible for washing the item. Most hand-knits do better if they lay flat to dry. If you are a grandma or grandpa who lives close by, maybe offer to hand wash items for the new mom and dad.
Acrylic Yarn For Baby
Although I do not knit with acrylic yarn, I understand the appeal of cheap and easy care knitwear. If you know the gift-ee will simply throw the item into the wash – hot water or cold – and let it got through the dryer for sure, then a pretty man made fiber may be the best choice. Here are a few that are meant for babies, and come in nice colors.
- Plymouth Yarn Dreambaby DK – link is to Jimmy Bean’s, cost is $4.50 for 183 yards.
- Plymouth Baby Beenz – link is to Dizzy Sheep and it’s sold out. Possibly this one is discontinued, but Dizzy Sheep has lots more Plymouth choices, like Encore Worsted, and they offer Free US shipping!
- Cascade Cherub DK – link to Jimmy Bean’s – cost $3.00 for 180 yards
- Sirdar Snuggly Baby Crofter – Jimmy Bean’s has a bunch of Sirdar yarn if you don’t like this one which is variegated.
I hope this gets you started in your search for a favorite baby yarn. I plan to try some of these myself. If you are already an experienced baby garment knitter, please share your expertise, experience and advice in the comment section.
Thanks to Pixabay for the images I used in this post.