Q & Answer: Can I Stretch A Sweater?

October 27, 2013

Q & Answer: Can I Stretch A Sweater?

Jason asks: Have you ever heard of purposefully stretching sweaters to make the arms/ torso longer? I usually wear a “tall” size but Brooks Brothers only sells regular sizes. When I talked to a sales person there, he said they have a special machine to stretch sweaters. Have you ever hear of this? Are all knit fabrics stretchable?

I guess it’s possible that Brooks Brothers has a special machine to stretch sweaters, but I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing. That said, it is entirely possible to stretch most knits. To a point.

Here’s how it works: wet the sweater fully in cold water, press a bit of excess water out of it gently, then roll it in a towel like it was the ham in a wrap sandwich. You want it to be wet, but not so much so that it won’t dry after a day or so of sitting out.

Then arrange it on a dry towel in the size and shape you’re looking for. Above is a just-knit sweater which is going through this same process, called “blocking.” As you can see, the knitter has used graph markings on a work surface to make sure the piece is the exact right size. You don’t have to be quite that exact.

Do this, and you can get a couple inches of stretch from most knits. The only catch: wet them again and you’ll have to block them again.

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