You ﬁnish up a big doily and discover an area of slight grime that just won’t disappear. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? The real problem is that by the time you notice anything wrong, the stain has had weeks or months to set itself into the cotton. Years of experience taught me to be extra careful about cleanliness during a thread crochet project.
Don’t drink soda, tea, coﬀee, etc. directly over your project. You will spill, spit or drip onto your lace. Guaranteed.
Don’t let your pets rest on your project while you’re working on it. Trying to get cat hairs out from between the threads in several hundred double crochet stitches with tweezers because your giftee is allergic is not half as fun as making the panel was.
Keep your project in a plastic zip bag. When the cat knocks over your drink when your project is resting on the table, it will be protected from spills (and dust, too!). Better yet, store your project in a plastic bag inside a plastic box on a high shelf. And store your thread in plastic bags inside plastic boxes on a high shelf inside a closet.
Wipe oﬀ your crochet hook once in a while.
Wash your hands before you start to work. With all the gripping and sliding of thread that we do with our hands while working, any dirt and oils will get embedded into the thread and working area.
Put a small package of baby wipes into your travel tote. When you’re at the doctor’s oﬃce or a baseball practice, you might not have access to a sink.
Give up on certain places to work on your projects; it’s just not worth trying to get the stains out. For instance, the public pool (where your kids are spending a few hours wearing themselves out) in July in Phoenix just makes your hands sweat profusely. Trying to get some time in on your crochet while you’re trying to watch them is pointless. Trust me, I know.
What to do when, despite your best eﬀorts, your project gets soiled? I have tried the soaking in tea or coﬀee method: the theory is that if you soak your entire piece in tea or coﬀee, it will turn into a beautiful ecru. It does do that, but the spot turns darker too.
Here’s a hint from Mrs. E.L.W, in 1912: “My Irish crochet usually becomes a little soiled in the making, even though the utmost care is taken. My way of cleansing it is to rub it in dry ﬂour, exactly as though using water; then shake out every particle of the ﬂour; brush with a stiﬀ brush, and press under a damp cloth. The work may be cleaned in this way many times before using water, and looks much nicer than when washed in the usual way.”
Another correspondent in 1911 recommended putting delicate work into a well-sealed fruit jar full of gasoline, shaking the jar for 3 or 4 minutes, then letting it soak for 15 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not desperate enough to try it! Prevention is a better method.
What do you do to keep your lace clean while you’re working on it?