How to take care of your Maxhosa knit
Photography by Michael Oshai
Styling by Ngozi Ufere
Owning a Maxhosa piece is so much more than owning a piece of clothing, it’s being the guardian of a precious piece of South African history. It’s understanding that a piece of clothing can be some more profound than some of its parts and most importantly, acknowledging that such pieces need to be handled with extreme love and care.
Made from the a mix of the finest merino wool (80%) and mohair (20%). It requires following specific instructions to ensure your piece lasts long and the quality is well-preserved.
The coat of the Merino sheep is made of light, thin, breathable follicles that make the summer heat bearable. In winter the sheep grows a longer hair layer that protects it against the bitter cold. The fleece of the Merino sheep is very fine, highly crimped, which is used as a warming layer for the animal. Therefore, merino wool is one of the world’s most resilient, versatile and luxurious natural fibres.
Merino wool, unlike other fibers, is flame retardant. Unlike synthetic fibers, you don’t need to worry when sitting near direct heat, for example, a campfire. Depending on the density and weave, merino wool has a natural sun protection factor of up to 50.
In addition, merino wool is anti-static as opposed to synthetic materials. With merino wool being so enduring, there are certain instructions you must follow to ensure its quality is maintained.
How to care for Merino Wool:
- Wash at low temperature on a gentle machine cycle
- Do not tumble dry
- Line dry
- Do not wring to remove excess water
- Do not use bleach
- Do not use fabric softener
- Do not dry clean
- Use a cool iron avoiding prints
- Use a mild, non-biological detergent
What to watch out for:
Pilling- Piling is caused when fibres in the yarn become agitated due to friction. This can be caused by a bag or straps rubbing against your side or shoulder while wearing the garment. If this is the case cover the straps with a tightly woven fabric to protect the wool.
Snagging- Snagging occurs when you scratch something sharp against your garment. Snags lead to holes so it is better to be careful when wearing sharp edges with merino wool.
Shrinkage- This is when a garment becomes smaller due to poor care. Extreme shrinkage will result in felting. Shrinkage often occurs when the wool has been exposed to high temperatures. This is why we advise against tumble drying merino wool at all costs. The garment will usually dry over night if hung in a warm room.