Folding And Storing Your Precious Knits

Watching *Marie Kondo in action is a mindful experience. She’s the queen of decluttering and organizing living spaces, but with a twist – she wants you to experience the joy of having only the things you love around you. All the hard work and time you put into knitting a sweater, caring and storage is important to its longevity. You’ll also notice that Marie Kondo folds most clothing items into neat bundles that easily store away and take up less space in your drawers and closets. Let us “Kondo” our sweaters.

Prep Work

Before storing knits, make sure there are no visible stains, and address needed repairs. This doesn’t mean your knits must be washed after every wear, simply that they shouldn’t be visibly dirty. Before storing away, spot clean any visible dirt, and air out garments after each wear. Knits should always be stored flat and loosely stacked. Tissue may be placed between garments to allow air to circulate.

Some knits may require moth protection; moths are attracted to dirt, skin oils, and animal proteins. Yarns with high levels of lanolin and natural oils, like minimally processed wool are particularly susceptible to moths. With this in mind, you may want to separate knits for seasonal storage into those that attract moths and those that don’t. Plant fibers like cotton and synthetics aren’t damaged by moths. Most yarns produced today are treated to prevent damage by moths. I’ve never encountered garments damaged by moths, only ones found in museum collections, but it’s still important to care for susceptible knits. Lavender sachets and cedar blocks work well stored along with clean knits, to keep moths at bay.

Remove dry-cleaned garments from plastic bags, and air them out to remove any residual solvent odours before storage.

How To Fold

Folding knits is the best way to store them. Garments placed on hangers can stretch, and make marks or points at the shoulders.

Light to Medium Weight Sweaters 

Place your sweater face down (frontside) on a large surface, and smooth out any wrinkles. Fold one side of front toward the back, then fold the sleeve down. Follow the same procedure on the other side. Fold the sweater in half, bottom up. For fine gauge knits, you can place a piece of tissue inside the folded sides before the sleeves are folded down. 

For garments with front closures, like cardigans, do up all the buttons before folding. For garments with no front closures (ie. wrap cardigan), I fold with the back face down instead of front down, so the fronts remain closed when stored.

Chunky/Bulky Sweaters

Place sweater face down, turn in one sleeve, then the other. If there is a turtleneck, fold it over the turned back sleeves. Fold the sweater in half. This reduces bulk, and stacking is easier.

Using a Hanger The Right Way

Here’s another method of folding a sweater over a hanger to store in a closet. Fold sweater in half vertically, and line up the sleeves. Lay the garment on a flat surface. Position a hanger (wood, plastic or flocked style) with the hook between the arm and body of the sweater. Wrap the sleeves over shoulder of hanger, and tuck under the lower bar. Repeat with body of sweater. Sweater hung but folded!

I also place knit accessories including scarves, shawls, hats, and socks neatly folded in fabric containers. I separate summer and winter accessories for seasonal storage. Hats stuffed with tissue maintains their shape.

Taking a little time to fold and store garments in an organized fashion will add life to those precious hand knits. After all the effort you put into knitting them, why not put some effort in caring for them.

*Marie Kondo is the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. For all the neat freaks out there, this book is filled with suggestions and tips on decluttering, organizing and storing things that bring you joy.