Knitwear Care

One of our main aims at Colhay’s is to equip our customers as much as we can with a full and in-depth understanding of the garments they’re purchasing. It’s a crucial cornerstone of our ethos, driving us to ensure that we explain precisely what our garments are made of, how best to care for them and how you will get the most back from them.

In this article we have collated our tips and advice on how best to look after your knitwear and perhaps correct some of the common misunderstandings when it comes to knitwear care. 


Mindful Dressing

Knitwear as a product, compared to other garments like jackets and jeans, is far more comfortable, but also because of this, more delicate. And the more luxurious or refined the hand feel of that piece of knitwear is (e.g. cashmere, cashmere silk), the more delicate it is in comparison. With clothing, it is best to think about it on a spectrum of refinement to toughness. Generally, the more refined a garment is, the less tough it is going to be and vice versa. It’s a trade-off. A cashmere silk polo shirt will feel immeasurably more comfortable than a pair of raw denim jeans, but it is going to be a lot more delicate than the pair of jeans.

As such, when it comes to putting knitwear on and taking off, and generally in your day to day wear and handle of knitwear, we would recommend being extra careful and doing it in a gentler way than the way you put on, and wear, other items of clothing. Avoid excessive rubbing for example of areas such as elbows of your knitwear on surfaces, and beware of allowing your knitwear to come into contact with anything hard, sharp, or rugged.

We believe in championing the quality and craftsmanship that go into the luxury knitwear we create. That’s because the more quality goes into a piece of knitwear, generally the longer it lasts, but what we mean by that is that it lasts longer compared to knitwear that is made elsewhere of a lower quality. One thing to be mindful of is that knitwear, even luxury knitwear, is ultimately made in a very different way compared to other garments, such as coats, jackets, trousers, jeans etc. Knitwear is a product category all on its own. The very nature of the way knitwear is made means that it is necessarily going to be more delicate than other fabrics, especially woven fabrics that are more rigid (and therefore less comfortable) – such as wax cotton, denim etc.

Due to the nature of how knitwear is made, luxury knitwear requires a more gentle approach. Knitted garments are more vulnerable than woven items, jeans, chinos or shirts for example. These fabrics are more resilient and so you can afford to be a little rougher with them.

Items like tailored jackets, jeans, wax cotton jackets have no stretch, meaning when you put them on, they either fit or don’t, and offer a lower level of comfort than knitwear does. The benefit of this rigidity means that largely, the fabric is a lot tougher. On the flipside, knitwear has gone through an entirely manufacturing processes, resulting in an entirely different fabric – a fabric that has far more stretch and with a completely pliable hand feel. This is partly what makes knitted garments so much more comfortable and better able to accommodate slight changes in body shapes (other garments tend to be less forgiving), but the compromise you will make here is that you need to treat these garments with a lot more care than woven ones.

To this end, yes luxury knitwear is resilient, however, when we refer to our garments’ resilience, we mean in comparison to other knitwear and you’ll still need to take care of it correctly in order to maintain its longevity and strength. The nature of knitwear is that the better care you take of it, the better care it will take of you. Cared for correctly, Colhay’s pieces have the potential to last many years.

Aside from getting dressed and wearing carefully, we also recommend thinking about what you’re wearing your knitwear with. Again, because of the way that knitwear is made, the fabric is more delicate and more susceptible to being ripped on sharp objects, compared to woven fabrics, such as shirting fabric, cottons that are used to make casual jackets, your denims etc. These woven fabrics are more resilient to scrapes and snags; whilst knitwear is not. In fact, it is sometimes encouraged in menswear circles that you “beat up your new jeans” or “wear your wax cotton jacket to death” to develop a patina. This does not apply to knitwear. The easiest and most common reason for rips in knitwear is snagging on sharp objects, like jewellery. For this reason, we recommend jewellery is the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off at the end of the day (i.e. before you put on or take off your knitwear) to avoid knitwear being snagged on anything sharp.

Abrasions can cause piling which, though inevitable to some extent (we’ll touch on this further on in this article), can be frustrating. It’s a good idea to think about bag straps in particular. If you’re using a shoulder bag, laptop bag or cross body bag, then try to ensure that the strap is not made using an abrasive material – the smoother the material the better. These smooth fabrics create less friction, thus less disruption of the fibres and less pilling. This same rule applies to outerwear. If you’re wearing a coat or jacket, then one with a smooth lining would tend to create less abrasion against your knitwear. 

Finally, try to make sure you’re not wearing your knitwear for tasks that require a more hardy garment. These are luxury pieces that aren’t suitable for rugged environments or very vigorous activities. Our knitwear is much better suited to office wear, brunches or lounging at home than it is for example, to gardening.

Of course, these are simply tips and not strict rules to adhere to. Our personal approach is to try and strike a sensible and easy-to-achieve balance between protecting your knitwear and living life as you normally would.

Washing Knitwear

If you have an interest in luxury knitwear, it’s likely that you already know that no knitted pieces should be washed in a washing machine. Careful handwashing or dry cleaning (for heavy garments) are the only options. We advise that you need only do this once a year at home, before you put it away for storage in the summertime. Washing knitwear too often is not advised. 

You’ll need to carefully soak and rinse the items using just water and a gentle baby shampoo. Special wool detergents do exist, however, we find baby shampoo to be the easiest and most effective option. Be careful not to wring or squeeze the garment (though you can reshape whilst wet if necessary) and leave to dry on a towel.

Your drying methods are as important as how you wash. Always dry flat - using a hanger means the weight of the wet garment can cause unwanted stretching, and, consequently, misshaping of the garment. Tumble driers, even on low settings, will shrink the fibres and this is even the case for drying outdoors too.

Please also be mindful that due to the nature of knitwear’s manufacturing process, the piece of knitwear could change shape (either shrink or enlarge) after it has been washed. 

For full details on the process and other things to be mindful of when washing knitwear, see our care guide here.


Whilst in use, you’ll need to store your knitwear folded and flat in drawers - again this avoids stretching the piece. When you’re putting your knitwear away to be stored long term, use a zip-lock bag that will prevent moths. It’s important to note that you should only put knitwear away once you’re confident it is completely dry too as moisture in the knitwear in an environment like a ziplock bag could cause it to develop mould. 


Put simply, knitwear will pill. We champion the investment in high quality knitwear because if you wash by hand around once a year, the pilling should reduce over the years and the knitwear becomes stronger and softer. Even with handwashing though, unfortunately, the knitwear will still pill, just to a lesser extent, and it is a natural and inevitable trait of knitwear.

The problem with poorer quality knitwear is not so much that luxury knitwear doesn’t pill and poor quality knitwear pills; with low quality knitwear, it is just that the handwashing process may reduce pilling but the more you wash, the more porous the knitwear becomes and the more misshapen it becomes too. This is not the case with luxury pieces. In this instance, the fibres react better to the washing process and this, in time, will reduce pilling while the garment still retains its shape.

Pilling is the process by which the shorter fibres become tangled up with each other and make a tiny ball on the surface of the garment. When you handwash high quality knitwear, the idea is that the shorter fibres come away from the surface of the garment, leaving the longer fibres behind which then become more “locked in” or settled over time, so that over the years, the garment becomes smoother and have less propensity to pill.

This process does require time and patience (years of handwashing), but the reward is significant.

Looking after knitwear for years so that it can reach this level is certainly a labour of love. For us personally, taking good care of an item of clothing and, in the case of knitwear, prolonging its quality and longevity, is incredibly rewarding.

Though pilling is something you’ll have to put up with a little, removing the bobbles with an emery board is an option. We don’t recommend doing this more than twice yearly, and, of course, being incredibly gentle when you do so. This is something that should only be tried on wool and not cashmere or cashmere silk, which are too delicate.

Ultimately, the more precious you are with your knitwear, the more longevity it will have and the more enjoyment you’ll get out of it. Comparatively, luxury knitwear is much more delicate than most other garments but we know that that is what makes it so supremely comfortable. If you’ve made an investment in a piece of luxury knitwear, the best approach is to treat your knitwear with care and be mindful when wearing it.