Subscriber Exclusive

Eight Tips for Drying Your Knits Outside

Take advantage of the great outdoors to pamper your handknits!

Marsha Borden Jun 24, 2024 - 7 min read

Eight Tips for Drying Your Knits Outside Primary Image

Tend to your knits naturally by drying them outside. Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash

As a lifelong knitter, I’ve needed to hand wash and dry garments on many occasions. I’ve discovered how various fibers react through my work with creating outdoor yarn installations and by using natural dyes to create color in textiles. In each aspect of my creative practice, I’ve learned something valuable about how to work with the natural elements of sun, wind, and heat.

Drying your knits outside is a wonderful way to engage in a sustainable act while doing something good for your knits. Here are some hints to help you make the most of the process.

Lightly misting your swatches before air-drying is a great way to test the color fastness of your yarns. Photos courtesy of the author unless otherwise noted

Out to Dry

There are many advantages to drying knits outside. In addition to the benefits outdoor air brings to your actual knitted piece, it is a bonus to be able to make use of nature’s resources. The free, renewable energy of sunshine and fresh air is good for you and good for the environment. And taking your freshly-washed knits outside is a great way to start a conversation with the neighbors!

Here are 8 tips and tricks to help you make the most of the experience.

1) Consider the benefits of air-drying your knits
Air-drying maintains the shape of the knit, reduces static cling, and minimizes the need for ironing. It also increases the life of the knit because there is less wear and tear on the fibers than using a conventional in-home dryer. The fresh smell of a knit newly dried outside is almost indescribably delicious: much better than the smells of food cooking, fireplaces, and other indoor scents!

2) Know the rules before you begin
Some condominium and homeowner associations restrict people from using clotheslines or other clothes-hanging mechanisms in their yards. It’s worthwhile to check your town’s ordinances to make sure that you can freely hang your knitted items outside without a problem.

3) Capitalize on nature’s good drying days
Cloudy with a chance of rain? Bright sun with no cloud cover? Intense heat and humidity? Gusty winds? The results of your drying will be affected by the weather conditions, so make sure you carefully consider the elements. Knits placed outside for many hours in direct sun will fade, especially those made of yarn blended with silk or linen. For the best results, choose a day with mild temperatures and partial sun.

Be sure to spot-check surfaces to make sure they are clean before hanging pieces to dry.

4) Dry in the shade whenever possible
Direct sunlight is destructive to both organic and synthetic materials, and dampness can encourage the growth of fungi, bacteria, and other pests that feed on textile fibers. Avoid humidity and extremely high temperatures to allow your knits to dry thoroughly.

The tiniest sweater drying in the indirect sunlight.

No subscription? You're missing out.

Subscribe today to access all of the premium knitting content available.