Does Cotton Shrink?

OK, so the question of the day is – does 100% mercerized cotton shrink? I actually had no idea what mercerized cotton was – so I looked it up on Wikipedia. I learned a bit about the process, but no help on the shrinking. So then I googled it – and guess what – the process that makes it mercerized, gives it the luster, blah blah blah also minimizes shrinking. Wonderful. Want to know why I’m asking?

I finished Soleil – and its huge. Ugh. I haven’t blocked it yet because I’m so completely depressed (dismayed? mad?). I actually measured myself, and did that size – although I was concerned because if you counted on a S-M-L-XL scale, it was a size bigger than I usually wear. But I have read a million times to go with your measurements. And its too big. Waaah! Its knit in the round, so I can’t even just pull in the seams. Its wearable, but I don’t think it looks very nice. And its pretty low cut – really. I had read on a few blogs that people changed the pattern to make the V-neck a bit higher. But more blogs did it as it was – so I went with the majority. In the picture, it looks wider in the middle, but I swear I decreased it just like the pattern said.

I did a guage swatch on this, and it was fine. Even the measurements on the finished product match the pattern measurements (except I added 3 inches to the length). So it really was that I made the wrong size. Sob….

I’ve learned some lessons on this one:

1. Go with your gut on the sizing; if it doesn’t make sense…..don’t do it!
2. When you are knitting something, and it seems just a bit too big while you are knitting – stop! Try it on, measure, whatever…just don’t keep on knitting.

So, what do you think – super hot water and hope that it shrinks? I really did like the pattern – and I like the lace at the bottom (if I can motivate myself to block it, the lace will be really nice). Anyone want a Soleil?


To cheer myself up, I started a stole last night. This is the yarn I bought from Knitting Addiction in the Outer Banks. Just simple knit 3 rows, purl 1, but the yarn is so soft…and I love the colors.

The colors are a little bit brighter. The mutlicolor yarns are Ellyn Cooper’s Yarn Sonnet – Texas Big Horn and Metallo. The solids are Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush. The combo is just so soft. I keep on stopping and holding it against my face (yes, my family really does think I’m odd) – its just so comforting. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, but its nice to knit. And it won’t be too big for me.



5 Responses to Does Cotton Shrink?

  1. Terri says:

    Hi Jeanne. This is so pretty, such a shame it is too big for you. Can you gift it to someone so you can at least feel virtuous for making such a lovely gift? I was trying to work out where abouts on the planet you are, and couldn’t see a mention anywhere. I figured you’re not in Australia as you mentioned rain holding your garden makeover plans up. It hasn’t rained here in years! …Ok, I exaggerate, but only slightly. :o) Looking forward to seeing a pic of your Embossed Leaves socks!

  2. alliesw says:

    I’ve had mercerized cotton shrink when washed on cold and put in the dryer–if you want to risk your beautiful swater to the dryer 🙂 You did a great job!

  3. lobstah says:

    Awww…that is so sad! It’s a beautiful sweater too. I hope that you can get it to shrink (never tried that myself so I have no advice for you).
    Did the pattern have a schematic? After making a couple poorly-sized sweaters I finally found that comparing the schematic measurements to my own clothes is the only way that works for me!

  4. KnitXcorE says:

    And b/c it’s mercerized it will stay shiny!!! i swatched some (using it for my MLC blanket) and it looks nice…. great fiber choices for the stole, i love the yarns/colors….

  5. Amber says:

    I wouldn’t give up hope yet — I’d give the dryer a try! And, if it doesn’t shrink quite as much as you’d like you can always wear it with a layer underneath!

    The colors of your stole-in-progress are breathtaking! It’ll be gorgeous!

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