As you foray into the art of knitting, there will be times where you want to add some stiffness to your finished work. This is the case when you are knitting items such as handbags and certain kinds of lace. Stiffening your yarns or fibers can easily be accomplished by starching your projects with a variety of different stiffening mediums. Starching has been around for a very long time and with the different options available today for starching; you can find just the right one for your project.
The oldest form of starching is simply to dissolve ¼ cup starch in ½ cup of cold water. Take this mixture and bring it to a boil slowly over a low flame. As the mixture begins to thicken up, gradually add 1 ¼ cups of cold water. Boil the mixture while stirring constantly until the mixture becomes clear. This will leave you with a think pasty type mixture.
As soon as your starch mixture is cool enough to safely be handled, dip in your knitting work and squeeze the starch into it thoroughly. Your goal is to soak your project with the starch but not to have it in the holes or any openwork in your project. At this point you will want to allow your project to dry in the position you want it to be in when the starching process is completed.
Once your item is completely dry, you can iron it with a steam iron on a medium setting.
An easier way to stiffen your knitting items is to use spray starch. Spray starch is readily available in the laundry detergent area of any of your local grocery or drug stores. To use spray starch you will want to use one of two methods.
Method one is to lightly spray your piece and the press it using a warm iron, on the wrong side, covered with another material in-between your item and your iron.
Method two is to lightly spray your piece and then pin it in place and allow it to dry. If you choose to pin your pieces, make sure you use rust proof pins so you do not get any staining on your finished work.
Spray starch is perfect for household items and holds up under normal wear. However, it is not permanent and if you wash your item then you will need to starch it again.
Using liquid starch allows you to control the stiffness of your piece very easily. You have the option of using the starch straight from the bottle, or diluting it with water and having a less stiff piece as a result. The process is identical to the directions above for classic starching.
There is a great product on the craft market called “Stiff Stuff.” And, just as the name implies, it is used to starch craft items and handiwork. The process is exactly the same as using spray starch; however, your resulting item will be very stiff. And, if you wish to hasten the process you can use a blow dryer to dry the starch faster. Stiff Stuff is not permanent and will wash out if you wash your piece.
White Glue and Water
If you are looking for a permanent starching option, you can accomplish it by using white glue and water. Simply mix together equal parts of white glue and water. Dip your item into this mixture and squeeze out the excess. Lay your item on a hard non-stick surface to dry and you will have a permanently starched end product.
Shellac is used in the case where you want a very firm finished product. Simply shape your piece and using a small brush add a thin layer of shellac. Let this layer dry, and then apply 2-3 more coats on top of it. Once your item is dry the shellac is permanent and your item will be very hard to the touch.
By using these techniques, you can ensure that your knitting projects are starched like a professional and will last for many years to come.