Alpaca wool is a very durable material with its exceptional elastic fibres. However, even the highest-quality knitted garments may loose their shape in heavy use, for example around the elbow area. Luckily, one of the great features of alpaca wool is that, as a natural fiber, it reacts well to steaming and by that returns to its original shape. Steaming can be done with a clothes steamer or with the steam function of an iron, using the wool setting – this way the garment gets even better!
Steaming the garment is a great treatment for the knit: for example, if the fabric gets wrinkled in wash, it can easily be flattened out by steaming. Steaming is also a way to customise the garment to your preferences. Steam and heat can temporarily loosen the grip of the fibers from each other, and the knit can be either stretched or shrunk as needed. As the knit dries, the fibers lock firmly into their new shape.
(Please note that with both stretching and shrinking the knitwear, it will eventually return to its original shape.)
Stretching the knit is quite simple: place the garment on a flat surface and steam the area you want to stretch. Pull the knitwear gently with one hand and move the iron to the opposite direction. This is repeated until the desired length has been achieved.
Do this with care, as the knitwear can change its shape surprisingly fast. On the other hand, if you stretch the garment too much, it can be easily readjusted.
When shrinking, the knit is steamed until it gets damp and then squeezed tightly. Allow the area to dry before you repeat the process.
This may seem ineffective at first, but it is in fact as doable as stretching.
The shrinking can be used on a limited area, for example to tighten a cuff. This can also be done by dipping the cuff into hot water and gently squeezing it smaller. However, it is important to avoid rubbing so the knit does not felt.
For all modifications, it is necessary to allow the garment to dry completely before use. Remember always to dry your knitwear on a flat surface to avoid unwanted stretching.