Stretching lifespan of well-loved knitwear

CUFF AND BUFF: Some clever tricks to shrink the stretched cuffs of a jersey
CUFF AND BUFF: Some clever tricks to shrink the stretched cuffs of a jersey

HAVING to face the fact that winter is around the corner, I have unpacked some of my warmer clothing. I was sadly reminded of how stretched the cuffs were on some older but well-loved jerseys. I know this may be an unreasonable request, but is there a way I can tighten them up again? – June, Grahamstown.

I’m sure this is a universal problem! We all tend to push up our sleeves. Once they go slack, there is no sure way to restore their elasticity. However, an American “How to Solve Everything” booklet had an interesting idea, even if it is only temporarily effective.

Dampen wool or cotton cuffs with hot water, and then dry them with a hair dryer. The hot water and the dryer’s heat should cause shrinkage – very clever! Sometimes, just running a hot iron along the cuffs is enough to contract the fabric. This sounds dubious, and be careful of scorching.

If you don’t fancy either of these “tricks”, floppy jersey sleeves can be made to look quite stylish if you wear the jersey over a long-sleeved top of a suitable colour. Fold up the sleeves carefully and neatly, three or four times. You could even stitch them in place. Now you will have a designer outfit!

I inherited a beautiful small solid silver teapot, and for the last few years it has been packed away in a box. I’ve now decided that it should be used, and be on show. However, it has tannin stains inside and is also a bit musty. Would bleach be the answer? – HJ, Port Elizabeth.

No, no – definitely not. Bleach works brilliantly on stainless steel and china but turns silver black. Bicarbonate of soda is the thing to use. Dampen a cloth, dip it into bicarb powder and rub the stains. If the staining is entrenched, make a thick paste of bicarb and water and coat the inside with this. Leave it on for an hour or so, rub off and rinse thoroughly.

I was also lucky enough to inherit a silver teapot many years ago. The inside was black from years of tea-making, but after lots of patient cleaning and lots of bicarb, including filling the teapot with a strong solution of bicarb and water and leaving it overnight, it was restored to its original pristine state.

After all this cleaning it will no longer be musty, but to prevent mustiness in future, leave the lid off, or stop it closing completely with a little piece of cardboard. A sugar lump is also said to do the trick.

I read your item about cleaning bricks around a fireplace. Could you advise me on how to handle soot that has got into a carpet? – KW, Port Elizabeth.

The first rule is never to dampen soot. This will only make the stain worse. Cover the stain with a thick layer of salt, and carefully vacuum. Hopefully the stain won’t be entrenched.

If there is a residual mark you can now use a low-foaming detergent, like Skip – 10ml to 300ml lukewarm water. Apply small amounts of the solution, blot and dry with kitchen towel.

If all this fails, how about a pretty rug that will protect your carpet in future?

Can you advise me on how to get grass stains out of my son’s white shorts? All this scrubbing is getting very tiresome! – GK, Uitenhage.

Sponge the stains with methylated spirits if the shorts are cotton. If they are synthetics, use equal parts meths and warm water. Follow with a thorough rinsing, and then a normal wash.

With severe stains you can rub the marks with glycerine and allow this to soak in for an hour before the shorts are laundered.

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