We are often asked this question and, honestly, for these three recipients the name of the game is washability washability washability. There's just no getting around it.
What Makes a Yarn Machine Washable or Dryable?
Let's start by ruling out qualities that make a yarn NOT machine washable. Almost all regular (non-superwash) wool will felt in the washer and dryer, so those are out. Similarly, luxury fibers like cashmere, mohair, and yak should be hand washed. Fancy yarns with beads or sequins will nearly always recommend hand washing - plus they're a choking hazard for kids and pets. Some hand-dyed or specialty-dyed yarns will recommend gentler washing to prevent fading.
Long story short, in general, if you need machine washability AND dryability, synthetics are your best choice. If machine washability alone will do, look for synthetics, superwash wool, cotton, linen, bamboo, or a blend of those.
On our website, you can easily search for yarns by fiber. You can also filter any list of yarns by fiber and by care, as well.
From there, it's a simple matter of reading the descriptions to find out if what the manufacturer recommends for care works for your project.
Why yes, yes, we do have suggestions!
- Berroco has two lines we love for little ones - both 2 legged and 4!
- The Berroco Comfort family of acrylic/nylon blend yarns offers ultimate machine wash, machine dry, and hard-wear-ability. Comfort is available in four weights: fingering, DK, worsted, and chunky. We like it better than any other all-synthetic yarn we've tried. It's soft, not "squeaky", and doesn't split as much as most synthetics do while you're working with them.
- The Berroco Vintage family is another good option. This wool/nylon blend behaves more like traditional wool, making it good for colorwork or cables, but it will still stand up to to trips through the washer and (if need be) dryer. Vintage comes in three weights: DK, Worsted, and Chunky.
- Pictured: Beyond Puerperium in Berroco Vintage DK
- Malabrigo, while a bit more expensive, is a delight to work with and the kettle-dyed colors have more movement than machine-dyed yarns can achieve. Not all of their yarn is superwash, so be sure to filter for machine wash-ability when looking through the bases we carry. In a nutshell:
- Knitted Wit has some fantastic hand-dyed superwash options that could be just the ticket for a special project. Most of what we carry will be fine machine washed, though we'd hesitate to put it in the dryer more than occasionally, briefly, and on low heat.
- Hazel Knits is another great hand-dyed choice and a Twistedista favorite. We carry two of their superwash yarns, both in a range of semi-solid and subtly variegated colorways:
- HiKoo has a several excellent options we come back to again and again for babies. Their offerings offer not only washability, but also lighter fiber blend choice for summer knits.
- Sueno is a sport weight, superwash merino and bamboo blend. It has a lovely hand and washes exceptionally well.
- CoBaSi is a fingering weight blend of Cotton, Bamboo, Silk, and elastic. The elastic gives it a pleasing stretch that most vegetarian yarns lack.
- CoBaSi DK is the next size up - a fantastic option for kids of all ages.
- Pictured: Silly Geese and Ganders in HiKoo CoBaSi
- Blue Moon Fiber Arts - last but certainly not least! So many great colors and so many great yarn options!
- Socks That Rock is a great, tightly-plied and bouncy superwash base in three weights - Lightweight (fingering), Mediumweight (sport) and Heavyweight (DK).
- Want to add a little jazz hands? Super Sparkle is a delight to work with and just plain fun.
- In a hurry? Similar to the Socks That Rock bases but bigger, Plushy is a favorite aran weight superwash choice!
What About Luxury Yarns?
Especially for sweet little babies, we all want to knit something especially soft and special. If that's the case then we do have plenty of cashmere and cashmere blend yarns available! But you're going to sacrifice ease of care. Depending on your recipient that could be totally fine - or it could lead to a garment that is never worn or ruined. You know your audience best!
If you do decide to go the hand-wash route, consider adding a small bottle of wool wash like Eucalan or Soak and some basic hand-washing instructions along with your gift. We promise, it will be extra appreciated by harried new parents in particular!
The Bottom Line
Synthetics boast machine washability and machine dryability. Superwash yarns and plant-based fibers will be machine washable and should survive occasional trips through the dryer if need be. If you have your heart set on a special yarn that must be hand washed that is a-ok, too. Just be sure to give the recipient instructions for how to care for their amazing gift. <3