Washing Handknits:
three small bottles of Soak, one in each scent

Industrial designer Jacqueline Sava has a mind full of ideas, and an even bigger mind for marketing them. While in high school—long before she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996—Sava had already launched her own line of machine-knit accessories under the name JACQ'S-HATS.

After graduating and returning home to Toronto, Sava was frequently asked for advice on how to care for the knitted items she sold through to boutiques. Realizing that the current woolwashes on the market had "overpowering fragrances that didn't appeal to our younger customers," as Sava puts it, she decided to create her own woolwash specifically for this younger demographic.

I met Sava at TNNA last June and was so impressed by the scope of research she'd conducted on this product that I decided to give it a try—though I may not quite fit her target audience.

The Product

Soak is a biodegradable, phosphate-free, rinse-free detergent that comes in three decidedly contemporary fragrances: A sweet, flowery Flora; a brisk and refreshing Aquae; and a lemony fresh Citrus. It comes in clear plastic bottles with black caps and colored labels (a different color for each fragrance). Think Body Shop for sheep, except that there are no sheep to be found on the Soak label.

Welcome to the Family
Longtime readers may recall that my extreme fondness for Eucalan was given a serious run for its money this spring by Kookaburra Woolwash—both washes also advertise as biodegradable, phosphate-free, and rinse-free. After running them through the paces I had to conclude that each was equally effective for most purposes and that the real deciding factor came down to smell.

The stakes were high, but after several washes with each fragrance I can now say that our scent saga is a trilogy with the addition of Soak. I washed several swatches in warm sudsy water and they all came out soft, clean, and smelling like some version of a country lane after a spring shower.

The ingredients sound a little daunting, with things like cocamidopropyl betaine and sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate. But then I looked at the ingredients of Ivory Liquid Dish Soap, which I use for all KR yarn reviews, and saw that it contained five of the same ingredients in Soak. And although it makes no loud proclamations about this, Soak also contains acetylated lanolin alcohol, which is a lanolin-based emollient.

The Positioning
Soak is trying to cross the line from fashion boutique to yarn store. In contrast to the boutique customer, the yarn store habitué is someone who tenderly creates garments from scratch and wants them to last for all time and eternity. We also tend to have their our tried-and-true washing lotions and potions that extend far beyond the realm of Woolite. So it's a harder sell, but Sava appears to be doing well so far.

Vital Stats
Soak is available in three sizes:

  • 425mL bottles for $16. One of these bottles is recommended for 80 washes.
  • Soak kits consisting of three 130mL bottles, one of each fragrance, for $29. Each bottle should provide 24 washes.
  • MiniSoak 10mL packets that will do two washes and retail for $1.95.
If you'd like to try Soak but your LYS doesn't carry it, visit the Soak site for more information.

(Review date August 2006)

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